Dan Gardner’s first ever Football League brace against the club for whom he made his senior bow back in 2010 earned Chesterfield their first win in six attempts. The 25 year old took just eight minutes to break the deadlock, firing a Rai Simons cross in from an angled position on the left.
For most of the rest of the first half Spireites, without being totally dominant, controlled affairs as Crewe just could find the space to worry the visiting defence. However on 36, Alex’s first shot of any form, from the box-edge by skipper David Fox, following a dart in by the lively Ryan Colclough, equalised and in the final throws of the first half Alex had half a dozen great chances to nick the lead but Tommy Lee made one great save and other efforts sailed close by.
Gardner eased the nerves with a half-volley from Liam O’Neil’s cross in with 57 played and from then on two nervous sides gave their all, though it was a way off being a humdinger. Jay O’Shea came closest to adding to the scoring with an 18 yarder that flew inches wide, as Chesterfield this time managed to see the game out. Dean Saunders’ son Callum made a late sub appearance for Crewe whilst Chesterfield’s two first time starters Simons and Mani Dieseruvwe will be pleased with their contributions. Not a classic, but a huge result for Saunders and Spireites.
Dean Saunders had been looking for his team to improve on the return of just one point from the last 15 available, a run that saw Spireites slump from 6th spot to 17th. For the second time this week they met the team at the foot of the division, Blackpool having leapfrogged Crewe after their 2-0 win against Chesterfield on Tuesday, an evening that saw Alex lose 2-1 at home to Southend United.
Chesterfield went into the game with three changes to the starting line-up. On the bench were Sam Hird, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Ollie Banks, replaced by Charlie Raglan plus two first time starters, Rai Simons and Mani Dieseruvwe.
Alex were unchanged but had a bench featuring ex-Spireite Chris Atkinson and Dean Saunders’ son Callum.
Crewe: Garratt, Turton, Ray, Nugent, Kingsley, Cooper (Saunders 82), King, Fox, Colclough, Inman, Haber. Subs (not used): Nizic, Guthrie, Atkinson, Dalla Valle, Wilson, Ainley.
Goal: Fox 36
Chesterfield: Lee, O’Neil, Raglan, Evatt, Jones, Gardner, Herd (Hird 71), Morsy, O’Shea, Dieseruvwe (Gnanduillet 89), Simons (Talbot 77). Subs (not used): Cairns, Ebanks-Blake, Banks, Orrell.
Goals: Gardner 8, 57
Ref: Ross Joyce (Teeside)
Booked: Herd, Evatt. O’Neil (Chesterfield)
Attendance: 4,053 (464 from Chesterfield)