Bristol Rovers 2 Chesterfield 1: Time running out for Spireites

Another nail was slammed into Chesterfield's coffin as they lost 2-1 at Bristol Rovers.

Saturday, 18th March 2017, 4:02 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:39 am

First-half goals from Ollie Clarke and Rory Gaffney did the damage.

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake hit a consolation late on as the visitors lost for the first time in five against the Pirates.

They now only have seven games to overturn a 10-point deficit in order to maintain their third tier status.

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Securing safety slips further and further away with each passing game, and it is unlikely they will be able to stave off relegation now.

German shot-stopper Thorsten Stuckmann made a string of fine saves, including a penalty, but it was not enough to keep Rovers at bay.

The Spireites’ defence were caught cold as they got off to the worst imaginable start.

It took less than a minute for the potent Pirates to open the scoring through as Clarke buried his third goal in five games.

Chesterfield held the ball for large periods after the opener, but their only real clear-cut chance fell to Sam Hird - who could only head a free-kick wide.

And things went from bad to worse in minute 18 as Gaffney grabbed his seventh goal of the season after being superbly played in behind by Luke James.

Four minutes later Kristian Dennis had an effort blocked, with John Nolan firing the follow up wide.

Stuckmann then made a trio of crucial saves to keep the deficit at just two before the break.

He denied Daniel Leadbitter, James and Gaffney as the Pirates upped the pressure.

Seven minutes from the break Tom Anderson hauled down James, with Stuckmann saving a poor penalty - struck down the middle - by James.

After the break the Spireites did try to force their way back into the game.

Ebanks-Blake saw his volley blocked, with Dennis hitting a tame effort straight at Joe Lumley.

After the hour Rai Simons had a great chance to reduce the visitors’ arrears as he flashed over from David Faupala’s cut back.

With 15 minutes left Rovers squandered another chance to net a third of the afternoon.

Gaffney could, and should, have killed the game as he blazed over after a brilliant ball from Chris Lines.

Ebanks-Blake bagged his second goal in as many games with a calm finish.

Faupala did the dog work as he charged at the Pirates’ backline before Conor Dimaio set up Ebanks-Blake.

Bristol Rovers: Lumley, Leadbitter, Lockyer, Sweeney, Brown, Brown, Bodin, Clarke (Mansell, 76), Lines, Montaño (Moore, 58), Gaffney, James (Easter, 72).

Unused subs: Mildenhall, Harris, Burn, Clarke-Salter.

Chesterfield: Stuckmann, Jones, Hird, Anderson, Kakay (Dimaio, 53), McGinn, Donohue, Nolan, Simons (Gardner, 72), Ebanks-Blake, Dennis (Faupala, 64).

Unused subs: Fulton, Grimshaw, Martinez, Mitchell.

Referee: Darren Handley (Lancashire)

Attendance: 8,524 (220)