Jack Lester said today’s late goal that condemned his side to defeat at Port Vale was ‘sickening.’
Luke Hannant’s 79th minute goal gave the Valiants a 2-1 win at home to the Spireites, who are now four points from safety thanks to Grimsby’s point against Stevenage.
For Lester, the game against Vale - who had a man sent off just before the break - was there for the taking.
“At half-time we thought we’d go on and win it two or 3-1, that was the feeling in the dressing room,” he said.
“We felt we could work the overload on a very big pitch.
“We get the equaliser, hit the bar at 1-1, there’s little margins you need to fall on the right side of.
“That was a disappointing goal to concede at the end - the game was there for the taking and that’s the thing that’s so disappointing.”
Although Chesterfield had plenty of possession against the 10 men of Vale in the second half, they were unable to carve them open and although Kristian Dennis had a pair of chances, it was the hosts who found the vital winner.
For Lester it was an inability to look after the ball in the way they did against Notts County last week that cost his side.
And he rued the defending that allowed Hannant to find the net late on.
“They changed to a diamond in the middle, we get the message on to get the ball to the full-backs where the space was, we do that time and again but we didn’t have that cutting edge.
“We isolated full-backs one v one but didn’t get the better of them today.
“Technically today we weren’t anywhere near where we were last week, in terms of the control, the movement, it wasn’t as sharp, but we still did enough to win the game.
“It was the same team, same formation and the sharpness wasn’t good enough - it was enough to get a point out of the game, which would have been fine, but to concede that goal is sickening isn’t it?
“As that clearance comes we’re in good shape, we’re four v two, you’ve got to deal with it.”
Referee Tony Harrington was the centre of attention just before the interval when he sent off Danny Pugh for his rash tackle on Jacob Brown.
That decision made every second half incident hotly contested, the home fans vocal in their disapproval of the official on many occasions.
Lester was disappointed with the man in the middle after half-time.
But he wasn’t using the refereeing as an excuse.
“I think the crowd put the pressure on the referee and he was allowing free-kicks to go, he thought I’ve sent one off so I won’t give a free-kick and there were definite free-kicks.
“We weren’t getting the decisions, that stopped momentum in the game.
“We knew we were going to be a little bit up against it and the home fans played their part.
“But it’s about being right technically and tactically and physically, not allowing things around you to be affected.
“I don’t think we were affected by it, it was a sloppy goal to concede.
“We had numerous possessions in their final third, comfortable possession but the use of the ball and the movement wasn’t at the level we’ve shown recently.”
The league table didn’t change too much for Town today, Grimsby putting just one more point between themselves and Lester’s men, who have two games in hand.
But the results do mean his players need a big performance and a positive result on Monday at home to Newport.
He expects his players to relish the opportunity to get back on the front foot.
“We’re lucky Grimsby didn’t win. If we dust ourselves down, give a top performance on Monday and win the game, you can really close that gap with your two games in hand and it’s ended up being a good Easter.
“But we’ve got to win on Monday.
“You’ve got to love the game, a home game on Bank Holiday Monday is something to relish. You’ll be retired at some stage and you’ll wish you had one more game.
“I don’t buy into the pressure thing, that’s an individual thing. If you want to make an excuse of pressure that’s up to you, but if you’re a footballer you love those games.
“There’s so much to play for, in front of home fans you can go and be a hero, so go and relish it.”