Read via the Chesterfield Post
Chesterfield squandered a deserved lead late on at the Proact to share the points with Scunthorpe United, as the Spireites’ slump in league form continues.
Marc Richards scored his first goal since August to break the deadlock but Chesterfield could not consolidate the lead and conceded a soft goal from a set piece to extend their winless run in the league to seven games.
Paul Cook made four changes to the side that drew at the Memorial Ground with Drew Talbot returning from a groin injury to replace Tendayi Darikwa, who made the bench despite illness.
Ollie Banks made his full home debut in place of the injured Sam Morsy, while Jay O’Shea and Marc Richards both returned to the home side’s starting eleven with Armand Gnanduillet and Gary McSheffrey dropping to the bench.
Brian Laws, in his second stint as manager at Glanford Park, took his side to the Proact on the back of a surprising 4-1 thrashing away to York City looking to ignite their hopes of promotion back to League One.
The Spireites started the game in the best possible way as Marc Richards capitalised on a defensive error by defender Luke Waterfall after Jamie Devitt’s dazzling run and subsequent shot wasn’t cleared, with only 9 minutes on the clock.
Paul Cook demanded pressure on the ball from the touch line throughout the match and the away side found difficulty in creating meaningful spells of possession in the first half.
Gary Roberts, Jay O’Shea and Jamie Devitt combined excellently before the interval; interchanging roles on either wing and behind Marc Richards to create torment in the Iron’s defence.
The first half saw some of the fast and concise one touch passing that afforded Chesterfield such a strong start to the season.
O’Shea linked well with Devitt in an intricate passage of play down the left wing to deliver a teasing cross on 13 minutes, but United ‘keeper Sam Slocombe did well to gather the ball.
Scunthorpe could create little in the way of meaningful opportunities before the break but former Sheffield Wednesday winger Etienne Esajas found some joy operating down the right hand side, delivering some testing crosses but forward Jimmy Spencer was left frustrated, such was the resilience of the Spireite defensive duo Ian Evatt and Liam Cooper.
Gary Roberts instigated many spells of play in his free role behind Richards and came close to doubling the lead on 35 minutes, striking a powerful shot from distance but the Slocombe did well to parry.
Neither side made a substitution at half time and Chesterfield continued to impress in possession after the break.
On 55 minutes, Jamie Devitt beat the offside trap after being played in down the left by Roberts, the Irishman’s subsequent shot from the edge of the box forced an excellent save by Slocombe as Devitt continued to stake his claim for a regular starting place.
Only moments later O’Shea’s quick feet drew a foul by holding midfielder Sean McAllister and the subsequent free-kick taken by Devitt rattled the crossbar to deny Chesterfield the elusive second goal.
The game became more open on the hour mark and the Scunthorpe created more notable opportunities.
On 70 minutes Terry Hawkridge delivered a free kick which Luke Waterfall directed back across goal only for Sam Winnall to volley wide of Tommy Lee’s goal from close range.
Lee had had little to do until the latter stages of the match but was tested with some long balls over the Spireites defence, as Laws’ side pushed for an equaliser.
Paul Cook introduced Armand Gnanduillet on 78 minutes to replace O’Shea and the Ivorian soon influenced the game, testing Slocombe with a drive from distance to force a corner.
The 6,346 in attendance would have been forgiven for thinking the home side had done enough to secure a win but a free-kick delivered by Hawkridge in the 87th minute highlighted Chesterfield’s defensive frailties from set plays as Waterfall found himself unmarked only yards out to head past Lee and equalise, making up for the mistake leading to Richards’ opener.
Chesterfield threw everyone forward as Roberts delivered a free kick in the last minute of the four minutes added but Ian Evatt could only head wide, leaving the Spireites with a disappointing point.
After the match Paul Cook expressed his disappointment at not seeing the game out.
The Chesterfield manager said: ‘Unfortunately we didn’t win the game. We’re very disappointed.
‘We’ve gone in after the game and seen that we’re third in the league and you think to yourself wow we’re not winning games at the minute and that shows you that if we were doing the right things and winning games we’d be in a lot stronger position. Unfortunately we’re not.
‘The lads are suffering at the minute in terms of being down because of the late goal. We worked very hard in the game, but sometimes we’re just a little bit misguided in our decision making on the ball and that’s something that we expect lads to be better with.
‘In the week we’ll be looking to get that mojo back into us where we know how to win.
‘We had great support today in six and a half thousand fans. Our support this season has been nothing short of amazing.
‘We know we need to start winning games to get this club where we want it and that is promotion.
The draw leaves Chesterfield third in the SkyBet League Two table, two points adrift of leaders Fleetwood Town ahead of the FA Cup third round visit of Daventry on Saturday.
Talbot, Evatt, Cooper [Hird 57′], Humphreys;
Devitt [Darikwa 68′], Roberts, O’Shea [Gnanduillet 78′];
Subs not used: Chapman, Togwell, McSheffrey, Porter.