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Chesterfield’s unbeaten start to the season came to an end with a 1-0 home defeat to local rivals Mansfield Town.
In a frustrating home performance, which saw Gary Roberts dismissed late on for violent conduct, Paul Cook’s side could not respond to a first half Calvin Andrew goal to hand Mansfield their first victory over the Spireites in ten years.
Chesterfield remained unchanged from their victory over Oxford in their last outing, with Eoin Doyle making his first home start in the absence of Marc Richards who is reportedly still recovering from a knock.
Paul Cox’s side made their first competitive trip to the Proact on the back of a promising start to their return to the Football League, but the home team started the brighter in the first half and forced Stags keeper Alan Marriott into some early saves.
Only moments into the game Jimmy Ryan found Sam Hird, now off Paul Cook’s transfer list, with a teasing cross from the right but the defender’s header soared over the crossbar to deny Chesterfield a perfect start.
Ryan then came close to scoring his first for the club after signing in the summer, as his thunderous strike from distance after a lay off by Jay O’Shea forced Marriott to save well at his near post.
The Stags found difficulty in breaking up Chesterfield’s neat passing for the first half hour, and created little in the way of meaningful spells of possession.
Ritchie Humphreys, the newly elected PFA chairman, then created Chesterfield’s best chance of the first half after 25 minutes.
A neat interchange between Roberts and O’Shea found the left back in space down the left wing, his dangerous cross across the face of goal beat the Mansfield defence but narrowly evaded Eoin Doyle’s outstretched right foot at the back post.
Mansfield could produce little in return and Doyle had a great chance to take the lead after Gary Roberts played a defence splitting pass from midfield, but the Irishman’s low shot was saved well by ‘keeper Marriott on 32 minutes.
The home side’s holding midfield duo of Sam Morsy and Jimmy Ryan came under more pressure as the half wore on; Mansfield’s midfield five prevented the pair from having time on the ball and the visitors soon started to cause problems for the Spireites defence.
Mansfield’s first sustained spell of possession led to a corner taken by Ben Hutchinson from the left, whose delivery found striker Calvin Andrew to head the ball past Tommy Lee and take the lead after 36 minutes.
Mansfield came close to doubling the lead only minutes later as Sam Clucas broke down the right wing beating Gary Roberts with ease. His subsequent cross found Hutchinson unmarked six yards out, but the midfielder’s shot came back off the far post.
In a frantic end to the half chesterfield came agonisingly close to drawing level. Roberts embarked on a trademark run down the left wing and his cross was met by the head of Morsy, but his attempt hit the bar to deny the Spireites an equaliser.
Neither side made a change at the interval and Chesterfield came out in search of a goal to draw level.
The Spireites were not able to capitalise on their numerous chances in the first half and that was a similar them in the second.
Eoin Doyle overlapped Tendayi Darikwa down the left flank but the forward’s cross could not be converted and rolled out for a throw in aft 47 minutes.
Paul Cook made two substitutions of 50 minutes witch Armand Gnanduillet and Gary McSheffrey replacing O’Shea and Darikwa.
Gnanduillet came close to making an instant impact as he held the ball up for Roberts, who played through Sam Morsy but the midfielder’s tumble in the box was adjudged to have been a dive by referee Robert Madley and the 21-year-old was booked for simulation.
Paul Cox’s side’s resilient defending continued throughout the second half and their packed midfield did not allow for McSheffrey or Roberts to have much time or room on the ball.
Chesterfield’s frustrations grew as they found difficulty in breaching the Stags defence. Crunching tackles by both sides added to an already electric atmosphere within the 10,015 in attendance.
Alan Marriott continued to impress in the Mansfield goal, making instinctive saves to deny Doyle and Gnanduillet much to the frustration of the home support.
On 78 minutes Jimmy Ryan had another effort from distance saved by the goalkeeper, which epitomised Chesterfield’s fortunes throughout the game.
Despite having very few other chances in the second half Mansfield came close to doubling the lead in the 89th minute.
Substitute Lindon Miekle found forward Mathhew Rheade on the counter attack but his low shot caused Tommy Lee few problems and was comfortably saved.
Chesterfield’s frustrations came to the boil as Gary Roberts was involved in an off-the-ball altercation with a Mansfield defender and the 31-year-old was shown a straight red card by the referee for what was believed to have been a stamp.
The referee blew for full time after six minutes of injury time to secure all three points for Mansfield and put an end to the Spireites’ unbeaten start to the 2013/14 campaign.
After the match Paul Cook gave his overview of the match.
He said: ‘Its football. Today’s a perfect example: we started really well, we were bright, we had chances but we couldn’t score. It’s easy to come and make excuses but I think we should give Mansfield great credit.
‘We’re disappointed that we’ve conceded and we’re disappointed that we’ve been beaten. These games are for the fans, there’s no getting away from it. Games like today are for those bragging rights and unfortunately today we’ve let our supporters down.
The Chesterfield manager shared his thoughts on Gary Roberts’ dismissal.
The Liverpudlian added: ‘Gary came to the club and it’s a big thing for a player like Gary because they want to deliver so much for everyone. Sometimes when it’s not your day and it’s not working it leads to that, we’ve got to make sure we manage that properly. Gary’s a great lad and that’s totally out of character from him.
‘Credit to Paul Cox and his team, they’re a newly promoted team and they’re moving up the league really well.
The result still sees Chesterfield at the top of SkyBet League 2, four points ahead of Oxford United. Gary Roberts’ red card will mean that the crowd favourite will miss the away games at Morcambe and Fleetwood, and the home fixture against Burton Albion.
Chesterfield face Mansfield at the Field Mill Stadium in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on Tuesday 8th October.
Talbot (c) [Devitt 85′], Hird, Cooper, Humphries;
Darikwa [McSheffrey 50′], O’Shea [Gnanduillet 50′], Roberts;
Subs not used: Chapman, Evatt, Edwards, Togwell.