CHESTERFIELD’s hearts were broken at the Proact after Gavin Tomlin’s late winner gave visitors Southend United all three points.
Tomlin’s 83rd-minute strike, fashioned after good link-up play with his almost-namesake Michael Timlin, was against the run of play, however, in a game which Chesterfield - inspired by man of the match Nathan Smith - gave a good account of themselves.
Paul Cook’s men were thankful to volunteers that the game was even on at all, after they ensured that both the Proact pitch and surrounding areas were fit and safe to host a football match.
The snow from earlier in the week was cleared yesterday morning by shovel wielding supporters and groundstaff and that effort had to be repeated this morning after the overnight outbreak.
Scores of fans beat the slush laden roads to make it to Whittington Moor to witness some déjà vu with the car park thrown in for extra measure, and extra hard work.
Manager Paul Cook and Chief Executive Chris Turner were also spotted, snow-shifters in hand, on the pitch this morning.
All of the volunteers got a great round of applause when thanked over the public address system.
Both sides hadn’t played a game for a couple of weeks, and the early stages of the game reflected this.
Chesterfield’s build up play was patient, but Southend defended resolutely and the game was goalless at half time.
The hour mark came and went with chances still at a premium, and Chesterfield were forced to introduce 37-year-old Jack Lester and revert to a 4-4-2 formation.
The home side then enjoyed their best spell of the game, with Mark Richards spurning two good chances, before Tomlin pounced late on.
Sam Togwell was caught in possession on the halfway line by Timlin, who played the ball down the channel for Tomlin.
The latter shot across Tommy Lee and into the net, and was then booked for his celebrations.