REPORT: Chesterfield 1-1 Shrewsbury Town
With nine games remaining in the League One season Chesterfield remain eight points from safety after a 1-1 draw with Shrewsbury Town.
No one could question the effort levels of Gary Caldwell’s side but their lack of cutting edge going forward was costly yet again.
For all the running done by the Town front men Kristian Dennis and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, the absence of quality service meant the Shrews defence were rarely troubled.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the game was a serious looking injury to captain Ian Evatt, the talismanic defender stretchered from the field having earlier levelled the game for the Spireites.
Chesterfield got off to the worst possible start, conceding as early as the third minute.
After good defensive work by Evatt, Reece Mitchell contrived to give the ball away deep in his own half, Gary Deegan found Freddie Ladapo whose shot was palmed out byThorsten Stuckmann but only as far as Tyler Roberts who tapped in the opener.
The shellshocked hosts were on the back foot straight after the goal, Dennis’ foul giving Bryn Morris a decent position from which to fire at goal, Stuckmann equal to the 25-yard effort however.
Before the game was ten minutes old there was another decent chance, this time for the Spireites, Ebanks-Blake’s clever dummy allowing Dennis to run free of the defence - the pace of the ball beating him as Jayson Leutwiler collected.
Shrewsbury’s keeper was in the wars shortly after, colliding with Ebanks-Blake when Dan Gardner curled in a free-kick, Leutwiler able to continue despite taking a bang to the head.
Paul Hurst’s visitors could have put the game to bed before the 25th minute, Shaun Whalley denied by the inside of the left hand upright after beating Stuckmann with a beautiful dipping effort, Aristote Nsiala then missing the ball entirely at the back post when a free-kick came all the way through the box.
Chesterfield made the Shrews pay for those misses, levelling the game with three minutes left in the half.
A short corner led to a dangerous cross from Dan Gardner and there in the middle was skipper Evatt, the centre-half finishing on the volley with aplomb.
After the break the Shrews remained dangerous, Roberts skying a shot from distance and Ladapo bringing a comfortable save from Stuckmann with a low drive.
Chesterfield struggled in possession in the quarter of an hour that followed the interval, but did fashion a half chance with an Ebanks-Blake cross that reached Mitchell at the far post, Leutwiler diving bravely at his feet to deny him.
Evatt’s afternoon ended with just under half an hour remaining, the centre-half landing heavily after an aerial battle and despite returning to the pitch after treatment, collapsing to the turf appearing to hold his knee.
The skipper was stretchered off, Angel Martinez coming in to play in midfield with Hird dropping back into defence.
Gary Caldwell’s side got the ball in the net shortly after the change, but the whistle went for a foul, Leutwiler having been bundled over by a pair of attackers.
Chesterfield were in need of an outlet down the flanks but both Liam Grimshaw and Mitchell were having poor games and with 17 minutes left the latter was replaced by Dan Jones.
Grimshaw didn’t last much longer, twice giving the ball back to Shrewsbury in the space of two minutes before being substituted, David Faupala entering the fray.
As tension grew, quality in the final third appeared to disappear completely, neither side producing a final ball when in promising positions.
And when Shrewsbury did find a telling cross, Stephen Humphrys saw his downwards, goalbound header somehow saved by the legs of Stuckmann.
In the final minutes Chesterfield threw everything forward in search of a winner but were unable to create anything of note, having to settle for a point after six minutes of injury time.
Chesterfield: Stuckmann, Hird, Evatt (Angel 64), Anderson, Mitchell (Jones 73), Donohue, Dimaio, Gardner, Grimshaw (Faupala 78), Dennis, Ebanks-Blake. Subs: Kakay, Fulton, Rowley, Simons.
Shrewsbury: Leutwiler, Riley, Sadler, Nsiala, El-Abd, Whalley, Rodman, Morris, Deegan, Ladapo (Dodds 78), Roberts (Humphrys 78). Subs: Brown, Yates, Leitch-Smith, Halstead, Payne.
Referee: Mr Andy Haines.
Assistants: Mr Michael Denton, Mr Wayne, Grunnill.
Goalscorers: Evatt 42; Roberts 3
Yellows: Anderson 90; Nsiala 42
Attendance: 6,317 (520 away)