Form side blown away by super Spireites

What a difference a New Year makes!

After a dismal showing at out- of-form Brentford on Saturday, Chesterfield eked out a performance from the top drawer to see off the section's form side Blackpool, who arrived at Saltergate with four wins in four and 16 points from 18.

The visitors left a well-beaten outfit after failing to overly trouble Barry Roche until the final 10 minutes when ex-Spireites favourite Ian Evatt forced a flying save from a 25- yard shot and Keith Southern saw the keeper dive low to block a close-range shot with just three minutes remaining.

Roy McFarland made three changes from the side humbled at Griffin Park.

Alex Bailey's hamstring injury is set to keep him out for at least six weeks whilst Paul Hall and Paul Shaw moved to the bench.

In came veteran Wayne Allison to partner Caleb Folan, Adam Smith started wide on the right and Gareth Davies played in an unaccustomed left back role, his first League start since April.

Davies was magnificent. "I can't believe he wasn't man of the match, the way he's come in for his first match of the season after all his problems, I was delighted for him," said Roy McFarland afterwards, who switched Phil Picken from left back to his favoured right to ease his passage through the game.

McFarland said: "Picken was really under the weather. I saw him before the game after he'd phoned in feeling really bad. Mark Allott and Aaron Downes had all been ill on Saturday and he was still feeling under the weather but I took the responsibility to pick him and said not to worry even if he had to come off after just one minute but I wanted his spirit on the football field and we hoped he'd get through to half time, which he did. His breathing wasn't good but he wanted to carry on."

Kevan Hurst, playing what looks to be his final match for Chesterfield as his loan from Bramall Lane comes to an end, opened the scoring after 12 minutes. Allison laid off well to Folan who slipped the ball in to Hurst who guided the ball beyond Rhys Evans from the edge of the penalty area.

Hurst shot over the top, Folan got into a great position but didn't make the most of it and Smith fired just too high from long range before, with half-time approaching, Folan scored another excellent team goal.

He received just inside the left touchline from Hurst, cut inside former Miller Shaun Barker and then stepped wide of the keeper to fire home beyond two covering defenders to give Spireites deserved daylight between the teams.

A speculative Barker cross was tipped over by Roche, his only meaningful pre-break action.

The rain began to fall by the bucketload during the interval and when the players returned there was plenty of splashing in the surface water, awkward passing moments and mistakes galore but it made for a great spectacle, although Blackpool didn't seem as enthusiastic about the whole affair as did their hosts.

Derek Niven revelled in the conditions, sliding, running and tackling as if his life depended on it, Folan and Allison were great outlets for forward passes whilst Smith and Hurst provided their respective full backs with many more problems than Claus Jorgensen and Wes Hoolahan were able to conjure up.

Blackpool's frustration was highlighted after a Mark Allott foul on Andy Wilkinson led to a melee, led by former Saltergate hero Ian Evatt.

Evatt clashed with Picken and as the game came to a close, he was lucky to stay on the park after crashing into Picken in the crudest of ways but escaped with a yellow card.

McFarland was very pleased with the showing of his side. "What we did in this game was finish our chances, that made a big difference to us in terms of confidence and our football, we created good chances and put them away, which we haven't been doing in the other holiday games, they were both class finishes."

"It was good for Hursty to finish his time here like that. Caleb's passed him the ball and he's kept running, he then scored a tremendous goal, a class goal in front of the Kop. We're disappointed he's going back but there's nothing we can do about that."