Spireites must heed four-minute warning

Another defeat - the third in a row - saw injury-ravaged Chesterfield slump to second from bottom of League One and the signs suggest that they could be in for a season of struggle.

Of course, it is early days yet in a division where sides are all capable of beating each other and it will take around 10 games before it starts to sort itself out.

But the Spireites need to stop the rot now or they could find themselves cast adrift.

Little has gone right so far and they were left reeling from yet anothrer major setback shortly before kick-off when key defender Steve Blatherwick had to pull out with a back injury.

The influence of Chesterfield's longest-serving player was clearly missed by a defence that went walkabout in the opening four minutes.

Oldham took full advantage to score two goals and the visitors never recovered from the hammer blows.

It was suicide stuff and even at that early stage the damage had been done and the contest was virtually over.

Assistant manager Lee Richardson admitted: "You can't do that and expect to win, and it is happening too often.

"Oldham were on their toes from the off, we were caught flat-footed.

"For some reason we try our best to make it difficult for ourselves.

"It just wasn't at the back, either. We didn't do it at the front end."

Despite that, Richardson felt his side played the better football and there is some merit to that.

They had good spells of possession and gamely took the match to Oldham but they didn't have enough in their locker to hurt them.

That's the problem with young players who don't have the experience to think ahead.

Teenage loan signings Manchester United defender Phil Picken and Sheffield United midfielder Kevan Hurst were thrown in for their debuts and it was a real baptism of fire.

Richardson said: "Phil has come from a Premiership club to the hurly-burly of League One and he will have learned you don't take chances, while Kevan looked impressive, particularly in the first half."

Oldham boss Ronnie Moore had demanded his players erase the painful memory of a humiliating 4-0 defeat in their previous outing at Tranmere and Chesterfield bore the brunt of a backlash.

They were trailing after just 47 seconds when big defender Guy Branston comfortably steered home a free header.

Andy Liddell was also unchallenged in the fourth minute when he volleyed the second goal.

It might all have been different if Blatherwick had been in the side. Chesterfield missed his muscle and commanding height at the back.

But, with the constant probings and non-stop efforts of former Oldham favourite Mark Allott, the visitors went into the break still in the game.

They ruffled Oldham six minutes into the second half when Derek Niven put a low shot into the bottom corner to pull back a well-deserved goal.

They failed to build on their success though and were killed off by a Paul Warne double in the 56th and 87th minutes.

A disappointed Richardson added: "You can play all the pretty patterns you want, but if you don't challenge and commit you are going to get hurt. You have to attack the ball in both boxes and we didn't do that. Things just haven't been going for us. We have had injuries, contagious diseases and haven't been able to train.

"To be fair, we have had to put out a young side, but they have to learn quickly.

"I was pleased with a lot of things, but you can't give away two goals in the opening few minutes and expect to win."

Chesterfield must wonder what they have to do to break their Boundary Park hoodoo.

They have won just one of their 25 league visits and leaked 14 goals in the last four.

starsport@sheffieldnewspapers.co.uk