John Sheridan will have to lift the spirits of his rock bottom squad for this afternoon’s match against his former club Oldham Athletic.
That elusive League One win was within Spireites’ grasp at Glanford Park on Saturday until two minutes into stoppage time.
Having come from behind to lead 2-1, a first win since mid-September looked on the cards until Jimmy Ryan hammered in a low, long range shot after a partially cleared free-kick to break the hearts of the 1000 travelling supporters.
Chesterfield looked more than comfortable with the lead having all but knocked the stuffing out of Alan Knill’s Iron, who had taken the lead against the run of play.
Drew Talbot, who later on was taken to the hospital for an Xray, should have hacked clear under pressure from Andy Barcham but instead conceded a corner. From Michael O’Connor’s delivery defender Niall Canavan, unmarked, headed home from the far post.
Talbot’s suspected broken wrist proved to be only a bad knock and he could be available for the Oldham encounter. The replacement for the right back was surprisingly striker Scott Boden, with winger Alex Mendy dropping back and it was the sub that brought Chesterfield back on level terms.
He had appeared just before the break but failed to have a first half touch so, with his first connection with the ball, he levelled from the left corner of the box.
United’s half time sub Andrew Wright dallied on the ball surrounded by Danny Whitaker, Craig Westcarr and Dean Morgan and it fell for Boden to convert via a slight touch from the keeper and the upright.
With parity restored, Spireites looked the stronger and more determined side and it came as no surprise when they took the lead.
United’s keeper, borrowed from Manchester United, had previously shown he was frail. Sam Johnstone, 18, had conceded an early free-kick for picking up a back pass under no pressure, he’d been lucky to pick up only a yellow after handling outside the box and several on-the-deck clearances had gone anywhere but where they were intended for.
Boden cleared down the left following a United set-play and Morgan gave chase. Wright received but was pressured into a back pass and Morgan kept running. Rather than boot away first time, Johnstone opted to control and miscued.
His opponent, still breathing down his neck, forced a panicked left footer which bounced straight to Westcarr. He had to bring the ball to heel and then lift it above several heads into the largely unguarded net, which he did with aplomb.
Derek Niven came on for his 300th career league appearance, all bar five of them for Chesterfield, Morgan limped off with a knock and Ryan had a couple of long range sighters that clearly helped him get his eye in for the last gasp leveller that condemned Spireites to a 14th game without a win.
Sheridan, who announced the release of his three first year pros, Jordan Burrow, Matt Needham and Ben Watkis, was gutted. He said: “It’s very disappointing, we should have won the game.
“We started really well and were nice and bright. We put them under pressure and it was there for us. Once we got ourselves into a 2-1 position we looked really comfortable. But to get yourself so close to the win is soul-destroying.”
Oldham destroyed Chesterfield 5-2 just over six weeks ago. Their hat-trick hero that day, Robbie Simpson, saw his loan deal from Huddersfield Town end last month but Latics boss Paul Dickov is hoping to re-sign him in time for the trip to the B2net.
He saw his side twice come from behind to beat Notts County 3-2 on Saturday.
Jack Lester will serve the last of his three-match ban for an off the ball incident against Walsall whilst fellow front man Morgan looks doubtful after he was replaced at Scunthorpe which means Boden could get a start.
Defender Scott Griffiths’ loan from Peterborough United comes to an end after the game in a week when Sheridan is expected to raid the transfer market for some quality players to lead the club’s survival hopes.