Tide turns as Spireites are hit by Shrimps wave

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If ever there was a game of two halves this one was surely it, as the Spireites let a three-goal lead slip through their fingers at Morecambe.

For all of Chesterfield’s dominance in the opening 45 minutes, Jim Bentley’s Shrimps matched them - and then went one better - in the second.

Paul Cook’s league leaders seemed to be in complete control as they walked off the pitch at 3.50pm, rightly pleased with their first-half performance that went a long way to banishing the memories of last week’s defeat to Mansfield Town.

The derby-day disappointment looked like just a bump - albeit a painful one - in the road, a result that would serve as inspiration to kick on to greater things, as the Spireites set about their task at the Globe Arena in devastating fashion.

Sam Morsy and Jimmy Ryan had hold of the game in midfield and provided a base for Tendayi Darikwa, Jay O’Shea, Gary McSheffrey - making his first start - and Eoin Doyle to go about tormenting Morecambe.

The hosts, who remain unbeaten at home, couldn’t handle the speed at which the Spireites attacked during an opening half an hour that saw Doyle at his clinical best as he produced two instinctive finishes. So composed was his second, and Chesterfield’s third, that even the Morecambe fans applauded.

His first came after a defensive mistake by Andy Parrish that presented the Irishman with a clear route to goal that he duly accepted. The Spireites’ second came when McSheffrey pounced after Darikwa had evaded a couple of challenges and pulled the ball back across the face for the former Coventry City man to slot in.

It looked like they could score at will during a period of the game that was a joy to watch for the travelling 584 supporters. Darikwa missed a glorious chance to make it four before a strong penalty claim was turned down by referee Steve Rushton, when it looked like O’Shea’s goalbound shot struck the arm of a defender.

But what appeared to be an afternoon to savour in the north-west soon turned into one to forget, Spireites’ cause not helped by conceding a scrappy goal just moments after the re-start that gave hope and instilled belief into Morecambe.

Cook reflected: “To say we looked excellent in the first half would be an understatement. We looked everything that league leaders are about. We looked bright in possession, we looked a threat, we created good chances and we scored good goals.

“We said to the lads the next goal would be everything. We weren’t at it second half and there’s no hiding place. We never got going and we were second best for 45 minutes.

“They were always going to come out and have a go for ten minutes and they got a smell that there was something in the game when they shouldn’t have got a smell at all.”

The manner in which Chesterfield loosened their grip on the game was perhaps more disappointing than the result itself against a Morecambe side now unbeaten in seven.

Ian Evatt led the team out as he made his first competitive appearance for the Spireites following his summer move back to the club. The 31-year-old wore the armband in the absence of the injured Drew Talbot and looked assured at the heart of defence during the visitors’ purple patch alongside Liam Cooper.

Evatt, who completed his first 90 minutes in competitive football for almost 11 months, said he was still a few games short of where he wants to be. He said: “It’s not a great start, conceding four goals, but I’m pleased with how the knee feels.

“There is more to come. I’m still not first-team-football fit. I’m going to need three or four games to get back to the level where I think I am.

“There were glimpses but I just need a bit of time to put a complete performance together.”

A crucial stop by Tommy Lee from Padraig Amond prior to the break served as a warning to Chesterfield, who found themselves in a battle on the hour-mark, after Kevin Ellison had bundled in a hopeful ball forward and Shrimps captain Mark Hughes showed good strength before burying from close range.

Jack Sampson levelled with a poacher’s goal before Amond’s deftly-flicked header completed the comeback in the 86th minute to spark wild scenes around three-quarters of the ground.

Chris Porter, who joined the Spireites on a short term deal from Sheffield United on Friday afternoon, was unable to make his mark on the game after his introduction with just ten minutes remaining.

Chesterfield remain top of the pile by a single point and face Mansfield tomorrow night in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in what will be a test of their resolve at Field Mill following back-to-back league defeats.

Chesterfield 4-2-3-1: Lee 6; Hird 5, Evatt 5, Cooper 5, Humphreys 5; Morsy 5, Ryan 5, Darikwa 5 (Devitt 74); O’Shea 5 (Edwards 68, 5), McSheffrey 5 (Porter 80); Doyle 6. Subs not used: Chapman, Banks, Togwell, Brown

Morecambe 4-3-3: Roche 5; Wright 6, Parrish 5, Hughes 7, Diagne 5 (Threlfall 84, 5); Kenyon 5, Drummond 5, Williams 7 (Fleming 77, 6); Amond 6 (McGee 90), Ellison 5, Sampson 7. Subs not used: Arestidou, Marshall, Mwasile, Doyle

Goals: Doyle 5, 23, McSheffrey 11; Ellison 46, Hughes 61, Sampson 71, Amond 86.

Referee: Steve Rushton (Staffordshire).

Attendance: 2,204 (584).

Spireites star player: Eoin Doyle.

Bookings: Hughes, Wright.