Column: Chesterfield’s Lazarus act can’t be false dawn before derbies

Chesterfield vs Port Vale - Drew Talbot and Jay O'Shea at full time - Pic By James Williamson
Chesterfield vs Port Vale - Drew Talbot and Jay O'Shea at full time - Pic By James Williamson
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Chesterfield’s Lazarus act was enough to stop the rot and turn boos into cheers – but it can’t be another ‘false dawn’.

That was the term Danny Wilson used in reference to January’s 7-1 thrashing of Shrewsbury.

Since then, Chesterfield have only won five times, including Saturday’s unlikely victory over Port Vale.

Saturday was only the fourth match since 2nd January in which the Spireites have found the net more than once.

And the facial expressions of those in and around the press box suggested that no one saw it coming.

At half-time, there may well have been those who had Chesterfield relegated.

At the very least, there was anxiety.

When your team, sitting two points above the drop zone, has gone almost four hours without a shot on target, it’s reasonable to fear the worst.

It’s also reasonable to voice disapproval, and Chesterfield fans didn’t hold back, booing an insipid display, at least in an attacking sense.

It was impossible to predict a likely source of a goal.

And as Wilson has said himself, scoring goals is what will keep Chesterfield in this division.

You can’t score if you’re not penetrating defences, giving service to your striker or keeping opposition keepers interested.

But just like the League One table, a game can change so quickly.

The withdrawal of Connor Dimaio and Rai Simons seemed harsh – neither had particularly done anything wrong, they weren’t the cause of the problems.

But someone had to be sacrificed, and their departure, or rather the introduction of the men who replaced them, turned the game upside down.

Gboly Ariyibi’s pace took him past Ben Purkiss, who had enjoyed the freedom of the Proact before the break, and quick as a flash, the substitute was away.

One decent cross into the box, one hashed clearance, and Jamal Campbell-Ryce made it 1-1.

If that was unexpected, what followed was completely out of the blue.

Jay O’Shea’s claim to the Man of the Match award began with a dangerous free-kick that found Sam Hird, and put Chesterfield in front.

And after Port Vale got level again, it was O’Shea’s corner that led to Ariyibi’s goal.

The fourth goal was a great strike from O’Shea, and an example of what Chesterfield had been sadly lacking - direct, adventurous attacking play.

I didn’t see it coming. Port Vale certainly didn’t. They probably expected to dominate the second half in the way they did the first.

Wilson’s double change proved to be a masterstroke.

Admittedly, two of the goals were assisted by botched clearances, but Chesterfield were due a bit of good luck.

And you can only benefit from luck in the opponent’s box if you put the ball there, which Ariyibi and O’Shea did.

A huge three points secured, attention immediately turns to three derby games.

A display like the one we saw for the first 45 minutes on Saturday will yield very little, in the frenetic, charged environment of a game against near neighbours.

But if the Spireites put themselves on the front foot with the kind of enterprise the two substitutes introduced, there’s every chance of a positive return.

The win over Shrewsbury was indeed a false dawn because it was freakish – you can’t expect to go out and score seven in consecutive games, and as we now know, it wasn’t the start of a big run of results.

The Spireites can, however, take confidence and momentum from what they did in Saturday’s second half, and having shown what they’re capable of going forward, attempt to replicate it.

It’s vital that Chesterfield do that, to ensure they don’t hear boos again this season, and more importantly, ensure they’re still in this league next season.

These derby games call for bravery – like a double change at the break, taking a player on for pace, or shooting from 25 yards.

He who dares might just win.