Ched Evans comes close to finding equaliser but Chesterfield lose at home
Not even a surprise return for Ched Evans could save Chesterfield from defeat by Fleetwood on a bitterly frustrating night at the Proact.
The post, crossbar and great goalkeeping denied the hosts and Conor McLaughlin’s first half goal, very much out of the blue, decided the game.
Evans was the man foiled by both the crossbar and former Chesterfield keeper Alex Cairns, Town’s Welsh international coming off the bench his first appearance since September 10.
It was one of those nights when nothing would go in and the result was greeted with boos from some of the home support - the Spireites condemned to a record of one win in 10 League 1 outings.
Chesterfield fashioned an early chance, Dion Donohue sweeping the ball out to Gboly Ariyibi whose cross was nodded down by Reece Mitchell, Kristian Dennis’ shot deflected over.
The corner created a scramble, keeper Chris Neal unable to gather the ball before his defence cleared. Seconds later the stopper was down in agony after a challenge by Gary Liddle, former Chesterfield back-up Cairns coming on to replace Neal on eight minutes.
The Spireites came agonisingly close to an early opener through a beauty of a strike from Ariyibi, the winger curling the ball onto the left hand upright.
The home side dominated territory and had the better possession in the opening half hour, but rarely troubled Fleetwood again before the break.
Their best opportunity came from a short back pass, pounced upon by Dennis whose shot was blocked by Cairns.
But it was Uwe Rosler’s men who took the lead with four minutes remaining in the half, the first time they had attacked with any real purpose, McLaughlin exchanging passes with Jack Sowerby all too easily and slotting past Fulton from 12 yards.
Having been on top and conceding against the run of play, the Spireites would have felt even more aggrieved had former player Jimmy Ryan found the net from an acute angle, but his shot flashed past the far post.
The second half was just 40 seconds old when Chesterfield fashioned a good chance to level, Dennis put through on goal but stumbling under pressure and poking the ball wide.
Fulton came up with a big stop to keep the score at 1-0, denying Sowerby at the back post after a ball was whipped in from the right.
The Proact was lifted with half an hour remaining, Evans coming off the bench to a rousing ovation and replacing Mitchell.
Chesterfield’s intensity on the pitch went up a level, Evans twisting and turning before feeding Donohue who saw a shot blocked.
Evans was the centre of attention, going into the book for a reckless aerial challenge and then seeing a snapshot palmed onto the crossbar by Cairns.
Frustration grew for the hosts when a corner caused havoc and Sam Hird poked goalwards, Cairns somehow saving yet again.
Chesterfield threw themselves forward in search of an equaliser but didn’t create anything more than an O’Shea shot that Cairns dealt with comfortably.
Chesterfield: Fulton, O’Neil (McGinn 76), Donohue, Hird, Anderson, Ariyibi, Mitchell (Evans 60), Liddle, Nolan, O’Shea, Dennis (German 53). Not used: Allinson, Evatt, Gardner, Dimaio.
Fleetwood: Neal (Cairns 8), Bell, McLaughlin, Eastham, Pond, Ryan, Depmsey, Grant, Sowerby (Nirennold 81), Hunter (Cole 67), Ball. Not used: Jonsson, Bolger, Woolford, Jakubiak.
Referee: Ross Joyce.
Goalscorers: McLaughlin 41
Yellows: O’Neil 50, Evans 83, McGinn 90; Grant 66, Bell 70
Attendance: 4,598 (54 away)