Chesterfield bust the coupon with a vital win at 3 o’clock leaders Walsall with two headers, one early on in each half to become the first team to score twice in the league against the Saddlers this season.
Two headers, one early on in each half, saw Spireites become the first team to score twice in the league against the Saddlers this season. There were anxious moments at the end after Matt Preston bundled one in three minutes into six minutes of stoppage time to give the visitors’ some anxious moments, but they held on to win 2-1.
Chesterfield arrived facing a tough ask to find the winning formula at the home of the table-toppers Walsall; Saddlers manager Dean Smith, a target for the Millers recently, had seen his side concede just six league goals to date, never more than one in a match, and they were on a run of three clean sheets and hadn’t conceded in just short of six hours.
Dean Saunders Spireites had picked up just four points from the last 21 available, a run of results that had seen them drop to 16th spot and the manager made two changes, Drew Talbot replacing Liam O’Neil in the troublesome right back role whilst fit again Lee Novak replaced the unlucky teenager Rai Simons.
There were three changes for Saddlers from the team that pipped previous leaders Burton Albion last weekend; Etheridge, Demetriou and Preston in for MacGillivray, O’Connor and Kinsella.
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake got on the end of Chris Herd’s deep cross to give the Spireites an early lead and Saunders’ men defended heroically to half-time, Tommy Lee making a couple of fine saves to deny Tom Bradshaw and Sam Mantom, whose effort was touched onto the post.
Dean Smith changed his formation at the break, playing a second striker, but the change played into the visitors’ hands and they found more space and from their first corner of the game, Dan Gardner picked out Ian Evatt at the far post and the centre back powered in his first goal of the season. Adam Chambers rattled the post from distance, Dan Jones blocked a Bradshaw effort and the striker was again denied by Lee as Chesterfield put in a fantastically committed shift.
Six minutes of stoppage time at the end, an Achilles heel for Chesterfield, produced a moment of anxiety but the Blues held on to register their fourth away win of the season and the second in a row in the league.
Walsall: Etheridge, Preston, Downing, Taylor (Morris 73), Chambers, Demetriou, Flanagan (Cook HT), Mantom (Lalkovic 66), Henry, Sawyers, Bradshaw. Subs: MacGillivray, Forde, Baxendale, Kinsella.
Goal: Preston 90+3
Chesterfield: Lee, Talbot, Raglan, Evatt, Jones, Herd, Morsy, Gardner, O’Shea, Novak (Simons 87), Ebanks-Blake (Dieseruvwe 87). Subs: Cairns, O’Neil, Hird, Banks, Ariyibi.
Goals: Ebanks-Blake 5, Evatt 54
Ref: Chris Kavanagh (Manchester)
Booked: Jones, Talbot (Chesterfield)
Attendance: 4766 (399 from Chesterfield)