Chesterfield: Flat Spireites need a lift, says Paul Cook

Mansfield Town's Anthony Howell (right) is tackled by Chesterfield's Sam Hird
Mansfield Town's Anthony Howell (right) is tackled by Chesterfield's Sam Hird
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Chesterfield boss Paul Cook says his players are in need of a lift ahead of Morecambe’s visit to the Proact Stadium tomorrow night.

A fiercely competitive derby on Saturday saw the Spireites depart from Field Mill with a solitary point against close rivals Mansfield Town.

Cook’s men survived a second half onslaught from the Stags to hold on for a goalless draw which kept them within three points of League Two leaders Rochdale.

The game may have taken a very different look had Marc Richards converted within the first five minutes only for Ryan Tafazolli to redeem himself and clear off the line.

Richards had done exceptionally well initially to create the opportunity for himself as he intercepted the defender’s header towards goalkeeper Alan Marriott.

The Spireites’ lone front man rounded the Stags stopper but his goalbound shot was steered over his own cross bar by a retreating Tafazolli on the slide.

Richards had seemingly done everything right, but, having got himself in the position to slot into an empty net, would be disappointed not to have scored.

Chesterfield’s number nine couldn’t be faulted on effort as he put himself about in an attempt to unsettle the Mansfield central defensive trio.

Daniel Kearns, on his first start since his loan move from Peterborough United, and Gary Roberts continued to switch flanks to find a way through.

Paul Cox’s Stags were well drilled, however, and stuck to their task resolutely until the introduction of another loan man, Mason Bennett, at half time.

The teenager replaced Ollie Banks behind Richards and looked menacing and, on more than one occasion, was caught late.

His movement gave John Dempster, Martin Riley and Taffazolli something different to get to grips with during a second half which saw plenty of goalmouth action.

Tendayi Darikwa went close for the Spireites while Sam Clucas was twice denied for Mansfield by a combination of Eoin Doyle and Tommy Lee from close range.

Mansfield’s front pairing of Ollie Palmer and Matt Rhead posed a physical challenge for Chesterfield’s defensive duo of Ian Evatt and Liam Cooper.

Clucas headed down into Palmer’s path. The striker was in the clear, controlled well but skewed his shot narrowly wide of Lee’s left hand post from eight yards.

Had Palmer found the net, Chesterfield would have been well within their rights to feel aggrieved in a derby which was left simmering close to the boil.

“The lads are just starting to look a bit flat in there,” said Cook following the draw at Mansfield. “It’s for me, the manager, to lift them. It’s down to me to get them right for Tuesday night because the two home games either side of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final are huge for us.

“There are two big games against Morecambe and Newport and we’ve got to look towards getting maximum points from them.”

Dale overcame Wycombe Wanderers 2-0 on the road while Scunthorpe United edged past Burton Albion 1-0 at home to move into second place.

Chesterfield make up the automatic promotion picture in third - a point behind the Iron - and hold a six-point gap over fourth-placed Fleetwood Town.

The Spireites have played 39 games to date - one more than those around them and they will take confidence from having been in the top three for the majority of the season, though have suffered of late with just one win from their last six.

Chesterfield could be given a boost ahead of Morecambe with Drew Talbot and Dan Gardner expected to have resumed training today.