THERE are times when football defies all logic.
Few in the football fraternity believed Chesterfield could pull off an upset in the capital. The odds were heavily stacked against them in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final, with the Robins having won 10 out of their last 12 matches.
The Robins top of League Two, the Spireites sit bottom of League One. Surely there could only be one winner?
But the beauty of sport is to expect the unexpected. Sometimes logic goes out of the window. Chesterfield simply had not read the script.
Epitomised by Nathan Smith, who was outstanding in the left-back role, John Sheridan’s men rose to the occasion.
They rode their luck at times, Lee Holmes was a constant menace on the left flank, particularly in the first-half, but they re-grouped and got their reward in the end and thoroughly deserved their 2-0 win. Against all odds, the underdogs had triumphed.
Chesterfield manager John Sheridan, who netted the winning goal in the 1991 League Cup final for Sheffield Wednesday, said: “I’m very proud. I was lucky enough as a player to win a trophy and score at Wembley.
“I am very proud for everyone at the club from the players to the supporters. It is a great achievement and it doesn’t matter what competition you are playing in. To come and win the final and pick the trophy up can only do you good.”
Chesterfield have written their names in the history books. It is the first time since the Football League Trophy’s inception in 1983 the north Derbyshire outfit have won the competition. It has proven a welcome distraction to their league woes.
With just eight matches remaining, they are eight points shy of safety and have won just two of their last 10 league matches.
“The league programme is always in the back of my mind and I want to stay in the division but we will enjoy today and the occasion,” said Sheridan. “I’m just really pleased for the players and all the effort they have shown.”
Sheridan believes the cup success can only boost their hopes of beating the drop. Chesterfield return to league duty at Sheffield United on Wednesday.
The Mancunian said: “I don’t think it [winning the JPT] will do us any harm. I said to the players to come out and be courageous and believe in yourselves more and we did that in the second half.
“Swindon are a good team and passed it but I thought we dominated the second half. They had a 20 minute spell in the game at the end of the first half and I always thought on the break we were going to cause them problems.
“We got a bit tighter and close to them and I didn’t see then see their wingers in the game.”
Sheridan also heaped praise on Westcarr, who grabbed Chestefield’s second goal, saying: “He is one of the best finishers in the club. He strikes the ball very well.
“I don’t mind people who miss chances but when they don’t hit the target that’s what disappoints me. I’m pleased he kept going.
“I thought he played really well when he came on. I left him out of the side so he was going to be disappointed but he showed a great attitude and I thought he played really well.
“He was a handful and he worked his socks off.”
Chesterfield, who have recorded just two wins in their last 10 league games, pocketed around £300,000 in gate receipts from yesterday’s final. They received £40,000 in prize money, taking their total earnings from the competition’s prize fund to £100,000.
Spare a thought for Lester
The evergreen Chesterfield striker limped off after 37 minutes at with a groin problem and was replaced by Craig Westcarr.
Sheffield-born Lester, who turns 37 in October, joined an elite group of players to appear at the old and the new Wembley stadium.
Lester passed on the captain’s armband to Mark Allott but he did join in the celebrations at the final whistle on the pitch and was the first person to hold aloft the Johnstone’s Paint trophy and he was given a rapturous ovation by the 17,000 Chesterfield supporters.
“It was a shame for Jack,” acknowledged Spireites manager John Sheridan. “With his age, you don’t want to come off and playing in a cup final.
“It was a groin and it a bit too sore for him to stay on.
“I don’t how serious the injury is. Jack is at an age where we have to watch him. We want him to be fit for the remaining games and hopefully it is not serious.
“He was gutted to come off and I was gutted for him. He is an experienced professional. I know if there had been any chance he could have stayed on he would have done because he’s that type of player. He was in a bit of pain and it is a shame he had to come off.”