Read via the Chesterfield Post
Tendayi Darikwa’s second half goal sealed victory for Chesterfield against Accrington at the Proact to earn their best start to a Football League season in the club’s history.
The Spireites’ fine opening to the campaign continued as Paul Cook’s side managed to break down his former club’s resilient defence, to record a fifth win from six league games this term.
Darikwa scored the only goal of the game only moments into the second half after a Marc Richards attempt came back off the woodwork, for the 21-year-old to calmly slot the ball into the Accrington goal.
Nathan Smith was the only absentee from the starting eleven that won away at Portsmouth the previous week; a recurrence of the ankle injury that ruled the left back out of the latter stages of last season made room for Darikwa to make his first league start of the season.
Paul Cook, August’s Sky Bet Football League Two manager of the month, reverted Ritchie Humprehys to left back and the former Hartlepool man had the first half chance of the game; an overhit cross from the left wing had Stanley ‘keeper Marcus Bettinelli back pedalling as the ball almost found its way into the top corner early on.
James Beattie’s Accrington side were quick to respond to the early Spireites pressure. Former Manchester United forward Danny Webber played a clever one-two with Piero Mingoia but his deflected shot was saved well by Tommy Lee after 6 minutes.
Chesterfield soon found a foothold in the game and started to dominate possession. Sam Morsy and Jimmy Ryan again played in the holding midfield roles and spread the ball quickly to wingers Darikwa and August’s League Two player of the month Gary Roberts throughout the first half.
Roberts came close to scoring against his former employers after Jay O’Shea’s shot from distance was deflected into the path of the 29-year-old, his left foot shot was blocked to safety by defender Dean Winnard on 17minutes.
Sam Hird partnered Liam Cooper in the heart of the Blues defence and almost had his name on the scoresheet as he found himself unmarked in the box to perfectly control a Jimmy Ryan cross, but on his 26th birthday volleyed just wide of the post for the best chance of the first half.
Stanley could not find a meaningful spell of possession and were again under pressure from an onslaught of Chesterfield crosses. Ritchie Humphreys delivered a ball from the right into the path of Liam Cooper, whose scuffed header fell perfectly to Marc Richards but last season’s top scorer failed to find the target ten minutes before the break.
The number of wasted opportunities quickly rose, much to the frustration of the Chesterfield bench. Stanley centre backs Dean Winnard and Robert Atkinson’s numerous clearances left the Spireites to resort to hopeful shots from distance, none of which troubled the on-loan Fulham ‘keeper Bettinelli.
Accrington created a chance of their own late on before half time as midfielder George Miller played a clever ball into on-loan Newcastle youngster Michael Richardson whose chip over Tommy Lee found the side netting.
The home team started the second half with the dominance in possession that they had finished the first. Richards found himself in space on the left wing and drove infield to shoot from the edge of the box, his curling effort came back off the post for Darikwa to score his second in as many games on 46 minutes.
The 6,588 in attendance grew louder and Chesterfield continued to dominate, limiting Accrington only to hopeful long balls which were dealt with comfortably by Hird and Cooper.
Drew Talbot captained the side in the continued wait for Ian Evatt to return to fitness, and the right back overlapped Darikwa to deliver a threatening cross which just evaded the head of Marc Richards with 51 minutes on the clock.
Cook then made his first substitution, with Armand Gnanduillet replacing O’Shea and the Ivorian was instantly involved; a Ritchie Humphreys cross from the left was headed powerfully but glanced just wide of the post.
A second for Chesterfield would have put the game to bed and Drew Talbot soon came close to doubling the lead. Gary Roberts’ corner was won well in the air by the captain but cleared off the line by Stanley midfielder George Miller.
Accrington’s resilience continued throughout the second half, captain Luke Joyce protected the back four to deny Chesterfield the elusive second, creating a nervousness throughout the Proact as Stanley saw more of the ball going forward.
Substitute Will Hatfield linked well with Naismith to cause the Blues defence problems late on, with one goal mouth scramble after Connor Mahoney’s shot from distance almost equalising for Stanley.
Eoin Doyle joined Gnanduillet up front in place of Richards with twenty minutes to go and the Irishman came close to sealing the points late on; his lob came back off the bar on to the head of substitute Sam Togwell, but his header was blocked by teammate Gnanduillet, to the bemusement of the Chesterfield fans.
Referee Darren Deadman blew for full time to give the Spireites another three points after a comfortable performance to leave them top of League Two, two points ahead of Oxford ahead of the visit of third placed AFC Wimbledon at the Proact next Saturday.
After the match assistant manager Leam Richardson expressed his delight at keeping a clean sheet to secure the three points against his former club.
‘I’m made up for the clean sheet, without that you don’t get the win. People talk about the goals scored, but the clean sheets are just as important.
‘I think you’d say it’s a fair score in the end. We had a couple of chances to make it a little bit more. I think we limited them to chances, they looked to play on the counter, they got men behind the ball and it was up to us to break them down.
‘We had a lot of possession, we created a good number of chances and on another day they’d go in. Jay O’Shea, Marc Richards and Sam Hird all had good chances inside the eighteen yard box and on another day they’d go in and it becomes very open.
‘Credit to Accrington, they frustrated us at times, we maybe could’ve been a bit more penetrative in what we did, a little bit more dynamic, but the result’s the result at the end of the day. It’s a good, massive, three points.’
Talbot (c) [Togwell 85′], Hird, Cooper, Humphreys;
Darikwa, O’Shea [Gnanduillet 58′], Roberts;
Richards [Doyle 71′].
Subs not used: Chapman (GK), Edwards, Evatt, Devitt.
Murphy, Winnard, Atkinson, Aldred; Joyce (c);
Naismith, Richardson, Miller [McCarton 84′], Mingoia [Mahoney 73′];
Webber [Hatfield 41′] .
Subs not used: Wilson (GK), Clark, Windass, Jenkins.