bristol rovers v chesterfield

Eoin Doyle is upended by Steve Mildenhall at Bristol but  penaltyappeals are dismissed. Picture by Tina Jenner
Eoin Doyle is upended by Steve Mildenhall at Bristol but penaltyappeals are dismissed. Picture by Tina Jenner
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If matters do in fact even themselves out over the course of a season, then Chesterfield are due some good fortune.

The Spireites were far from banging down Bristol Rovers’ door during the goalless draw in what was a match up true to recent form at the Memorial Stadium.

But, when in a type of run - three points now from an available 18 - that has seen them fall out of the top three, results are often dictated by fine margins.

They were denied what appeared to be a clear penalty when Eoin Doyle was flattened by the opposition goalkeeper, Steve Mildenhall, after the striker had sneaked in behind Will Packwood and won the race to the ball.

But the referee remained unmoved much to the majority of the crowd’s surprise.

On another day the Irishman would feel he could have had at least a couple before he was subsequently given his marching orders after picking up a second yellow five minutes from time.

And frustration nearly got the better of the Chesterfield manager, Paul Cook, when Gary Roberts was adjudged to have been offside during a breakaway that had cut Rovers clean open.

Never one to bemoan referees, Cook said after the full time whistle: “It’s a game we should win. We’ve just lost that little bit of energy, little bit of penetration and little bit of creativity that made us look so good early on.

“We will go away and work harder. We’re in a bit of a blip. I felt that after Tuesday night we would have had the impetus, but the balance isn’t correct within the team at the minute.

“We’re down at the minute and it’s my job as manager to lift us quickly and I can guarantee that I will. We have set the bar high and we will get back there.”

Chesterfield lined up with Armand Gnanduillet and Doyle in attack in a more traditional 4-4-2 formation that saw Roberts out wide, but the visitors lacked the fluency that saw them attract so many plaudits in the opening weeks of the season.

In what was a scrappy first half that saw both sides carelessly cease position of the football chances were few and far between.

The Spireites’s central midfield pairing were being over- run by Rovers’ central three of John-Joe O’Toole, Ollie Clarke and Seanan Clucas.

O’Toole fired over for the hosts in what was by and large their only effort of note during the first 45 minutes before a crunching challenge left Sam Morsy in a heap on the floor midway inside his own half.

Morsy was replaced by Ollie Banks who came on to make his league debut for the club. The 21-year-old impressed for little over an hour in what had become a fiercely contested midfield battle.

“I thought he was magnificent,” said Cook. “For any Chesterfield supporter to see a young lad come from none league and give a performance like that, it’s possibly one of the very few things that will make me smile.”

Jamie Devitt was one of the few to carry on where he left off on Tuesday night against York City and looked the more likely to cause the hosts any danger. There were encouraging signs when he and Tendayi Darikwa, who was at right back in the absence of the injured Drew Talbot, linked up well to get to the byline.

O’Toole had another sight of goal when Ian Evatt only half cleared but he was unable to force Tommy Lee into a save. For two teams poles apart in the league table, their performances were remarkably similar.

Chesterfield did burst into life, albeit briefly, when Doyle was sent clear after good work from Gnanduillet on half way. The Irishman attempted to chip the advancing Mildenhall only for his effort to sail over the bar.

Roberts did force the Rovers’ keeper into action when he unleashed a crisp left-footed drive that Mildenhall was able to get a toe to and the ball dropped to Doyle to volley first time, only for Tom Parkes to block on the line.

There were more worrying signs when Ian Evatt limped off the pitch after an authoritative display by the Spireites’ club captain, which restricted the hosts from achieving a single shot on target.

Lee was eventually called into action as the game became stretched, following Doyle’s dismissal, to deny Clarke’s thunderbolt from the edge of the area and complete a first clean sheet since Oxford United away on September 21.

Lee said: “It’s been a while so it’s always nice to get a clean sheet. I think we defended really well on the whole. They didn’t create any real chances and that’s a credit to (Liam) Cooper, Evatt and (Sam) Hird when he came on.

“We had a couple of good chances and I think we should have had a penalty. I was at the other end and it looked like a penalty to me, I think the whole ground thought it was a penalty apart from the ref and the linesman, but that’s the way it’s going.”

In many ways the draw was unsurprising for Chesterfield, whohave yet to triumph at the Memorial Stadium in the league.