REPORT: Chesterfield FC 0-2 Brackley Town - Spireites exit FA Trophy to holders
John Sheridan experienced defeat for the first time since taking over at Chesterfield, his side exiting the FA Trophy at the hands of last year’s winners Brackley.
The National League North side were well worth their 2-0 victory at the Proact, but it was an awful display from the Spireites.
They were poor in defence, needing Shwan Jalal to bail them out on a number of occasions, and even worse going forward, the midfield trio starting behind lone forward Alex Kiwomya failing to effect the game.
Whilst positives will be scarce for Sheridan, the game might have helped him to make up his mind on a number of players ahead of the relegation run-in.
He made four changes to the starting line-up, loan signing Josef Yarney coming in to play right-back, with Alfie Beestin, Joe Rowley and Kyel Reid also getting a chance.
It didn’t start particularly well and that perhaps set the tone.
The first shot of the afternoon came from the visitors, Lee Ndolvu firing wide with a decent effort from outside the box.
Centre-half Haydn Hollis had Chesterfield’s first effort, but couldn’t direct his header when he met a dangerous Curtis Weston cross, and Danny Lewis was untroubled.
The keeper was forced into action on 13 minutes, getting down smartly to his right to deny Kyel Reid, who opted for a shot instead of finding Alex Kiwomya who had raced into the middle.
At the other end Shwan Jalal also had to be at his best, stretching to tip away James Armson’s curling effort after Ndlovu forced a mix up with Haydn Hollis.
It was pretty dreadful fare, Chesterfield doing very little with their possession and struggling to find gaps in a compact and organised Brackley side.
The visitors looked handy on the break and almost took advantage of a sliced Hollis clearance which went straight up in the air in his own area, Shane Byrne firing over.
On the half hour mark Brackley came agonisingly close to scoring three times in quick succession.
A shot was deflected into the path of an unmarked Ndlovu, inside the six yard area, and somehow Jalal pulled off a reaction save. A follow up effort from Byrne was then cleared off the line with a last ditch slide by Will Evans, before Hollis headed out of the goalmouth as Armson threatened.
Chesterfield never really got going in the first half, and their lack of urgency and cohesive play carried through to the second half.
They were made to pay seven minutes after the break, Weston’s poor attempt at a front post header taking Jalal out of the equation, the ball bouncing in the goalmouth before Ndlovu prodded home.
Sheridan waited four more minutes and then made a double change in an attempt to spark a reaction from his side.
On came Tom Denton and Lee Shaw, off went the ineffective Reid and Alfie Beestin.
But Chesterfield continued to struggle and it was the men in yellow on top, Jerome Binnom-Williams twice skinned by Ellis Myles in bright Brackley attacks.
There was a huge let off for Town when Joe Rowley gave the ball away in the middle of the park and Armson put Ndlovu clean through, Jalal saving well on the edge of his box to keep his side in it.
With 16 minutes left the home side finally had a chance, from a Rowley corner, Evans’ header finding Shaw who poked goalwards from a few yards, only for Lewis to save.
Brackley then showed them how simple football can be, winning possession in the middle of the park and passing it quickly until Armson ran onto a through ball and stroked it past Jalal, off the far post.
Shaw hooked a speculative 25-yard volley over the bar and Louis Dodds, on for Binnom-Williams, saw a fierce drive saved and then another, flicked effort, kept out.
A few half chances came and went for the hosts, but Brackley saw the game out to cap a fine, professional display.
Chesterfield: Jalal, Yarney, Binnom-Williams (Dodds 66), Evans, Hollis, Smith, Weston, Reid (Denton 56), Rowley, Beestin (Shaw 56) Kiwomya. Not used:Wakefield, Anyon, Dodds.
Brackley: Lewis, Myles, G. Walker, Byne, Jackson, Dean, Lowe (Nti 90), Armson, Ndlovu (Jeffers 90), Sterling-James (Fairlamb 58), A. Walker. Not used: Noon.
Goalscorers: Ndlovu 52, Armson 76
Referee: Will Finnie. Assistants: Andrew Dallison, Scott Tallis.
Attendance: 2,054 (174 away)