Chesterfield slumped to a sixth straight league defeat for the first time in 12 years.
Not since the early days of Roy McFarland’s tenure as manager in 2003-04, a season that ended with Glynn Hurst’s 87th minute last match goal at home to Luton Town that saved the club from relegation has such a pointless run been witnessed.
Interim Manager Mark Smith admits times are worrying. He said: “I would say it’s a crisis, six defeats at any time is not good and it’s things like that we’ve got to start looking at, not just me and the Chief Executive, the players need to start looking at it as well.”
Smith has undoubtedly tightened Spireites’ defence, but Bradford City always looked the more likely scorers, but the game’s only goal had a touch of bad luck about it for the fading hosts. Charlie Raglan’s clearance hit Billy Clarke and the ball bounced perfectly for the striker to run on to and cross in though scorer Tony McMahon still had plenty to do, unleashing a fine shot from just inside the box to beat the impressive Tommy Lee.
Chesterfield’s keeper had made a string of fine saves throughout the game to deny Kyel Read, Clarke, James Hanson and Gary Liddle whilst Clarke headed against the post and Hanson had an effort ruled out for handball.
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake twice headed high and right back Liam O’Neil, who’s form of late is one of the few positives in the team, hammered a snap shot just over the bar.
With Sam Morsy suspended and Lee Novak injured, Smith left Mani Dieseruvwe on the bench and brought in Gboly Ariyibi, who was very quiet, Ebanks-Blake and Sam Hird into the side and he started with a 4-1-4-1 formation that looked tight at the back but lacked the penetration to overly bother ex-Spireite Ben Williams in the Bantams’ goal.
Smith acknowledged the need to create more, saying: “We hardly created anything; we get in certain situations and nothing happens from it, it was by no means ‘backs to the wall’ but we defend from the front and attack from the back but we’re perhaps sacrificing one for the benefit of the other, we’ve got to start scoring goals.”
He concluded: “All of the games I’ve been involved with have been really close, we haven’t been taken to the cleaners by anyone but you’ve got to start learning from these things, whether that means an extra 5% from individuals or a bit better thought or understanding, but it’s easy to blame other things.
“It probably needs a fresh face or different voice because we can’t keep on doing what we’re doing at the moment. But the only way to change it is by both individuals and the collective understanding the position we’re in, understanding the consequences, looking at it and thinking I need to do something about this.”
Spireites travel to Peterborough United on Boxing Day hoping to avoid a seventh straight defeat for the first time since 1988-89, a season that ended in relegation with Drew Talbot hoping to shake off the hamstring injury he picked up that forced him off at half-time.
Chesterfield: Lee 9, O’Neil 7 (Simons 76), Evatt 7, Raglan 7, Talbot 6 (Humphreys HT, 5), Hird 7, O’Shea 5, Banks 5, Donohue 6, Ariyibi 4 (Gardner 61, 5), Ebanks-Blake 6. Subs (not used): Chapman, Dieseruvwe, Maguire, Daly.
Goal: McMahon 72
Bradford: Williams 6, Darby 6, McArdle 7, Burke 6, Leigh 8, McMahon 7, Liddle 6, Evans 6, Reid 7 (Meredith 90), B.Clarke 7 (Cole 81), Hanson 7. Subs (not used): Cracknell, N.Clarke, Marshall, Knott, Bowery.
Ref: James Adcock (Notts)
Booked: Humphreys, Ebanks-Blake (Chesterfield), McArdle (Bradford)
Attendance: 6795 (1461 from Bradford)