Read via the Chesterfield Post
Chesterfield’s woes in the FA Cup continued with a 3-1 defeat to Southend United at the Proact.
The Shrimpers came from behind after Tendayi Darikwa’s early opener and former Spireite Kevan Hurst secured the win late on to knock Chesterfield out of the competition in the second round for a second consecutive year.
Paul Cook made one change to the side that lost to Newport, with Darikwa returning to the starting eleven to replace Liam Cooper who served his one match ban after his controversial dismissal in Wales.
Sam Hird reverted to centre half and partnered Ian Evatt as Darikwa joined Jay O’Shea and Gary Roberts behind Armand Gnanduillet in the Spireites’ attack.
Phil Brown’s Shrimpers came into the game in an impressive run of form, having only won all but one of their last six, including a notable 3-0 win away to Morecambe to set up the second round tie at the Proact.
Former Wales striker Freddie Eastwood could only make the bench on his return to fitness following injury.
The tie soon burst into life as Southend tested Tommy Lee with only seconds on the clock. Chesterfield born Kevan Hurst crossed from the right to find the head of forward Anthony Straker whose header back across goal to teed up Barry Corr, but the striker’s headed effort was saved by Lee.
Chesterfield were quick to respond as Gary Roberts linked well with Jay O’Shea down the left hand side. Roberts delivered a low cross for Tendayi Darikwa to tap home at the back post for his third of the season on his return to the side after four minutes.
The game continued at a blistering pace as Hurst again threatened down the visitors’ right wing but Callum McFadzean tackled well, sparking the crowd into life.
Despite going a goal behind, Phil Brown’s side showed why they were high flying in League Two and equalised with midfielder Marc Laird heading in Ben Coker’s corner at the near post with eleven minutes on the clock.
Gary Roberts’ trademark runs caused the Southend midfield problems in the opening exchanges until the winger went down after 14 minutes and was forced off with a hamstring injury, to be replaced by Ritchie Humphreys.
Roberts’ exit prompted more pressure from Southend and the visitors took the lead only five minutes after equalising as Hurst continued to cause problems down the right hand side. The 28-year-old crossed well to find Anthony Straker at the back post unmarked for the striker to head home and take the lead on 16 minutes.
Southend continued to impress in the first half with accurate one touch passing, and the home side found difficulty in getting close to the ball.
Cook pushed Ollie banks forward to play behind Gnanduillet and Chesterfield found more success, with the nominee for November’s player of the month spreading the play from a crowded midfield.
Banks excellently found Drew Talbot down the right flank but the right back’s cross was cleared well by defender Rob Kiernan on 37 minutes, which epitomised Chesterfield’s frustrations in the first half.
Callum McFadzean had a claim for a penalty late on in the first half, but his soft appeal was waved away by referee Mick Russell.
Southend were more clinical with their possession while Chesterfield frustrated the home contingent, struggling to string together any meaningful passages of play.
Chesterfield came out for the second half a rejuvenated side, as Jimmy Ryan powered forward from midfield to shoot from distance, but Gnanduillet couldn’t convert the effort on the stretch.
Banks’ movement in his role behind the striker gave the home side an attacking outlet that was absent before the break. His vision caused problems for the Southend defence as Chesterfield looked to find an equaliser.
Drew Talbot came agonisingly close to levelling five minutes after the break. Jay O’Shea’s drilled corner from the right was met by the on rushing right back whose bullet header glanced the top of the crossbar, leaving the keeper rooted to the spot.
Southend’s central midfield pairing of Mark Laird and Michael Timlin were less dominant in the midfield in the second half. Ollie Banks came close to capitalising on some slack marking with a thunderous strike from the edge of the box, only to see his effort rise over Dan Bentley’s crossbar on 70 minutes.
Marc Richards replaced Jay O’Shea and Calum McFadzean made way for Eoin Doyle as Paul Cook’s side looked to draw level.
A moment of madness from Gnanduillet led to the referee awarding Southend a penalty, as the Ivorian wrestled Barry Corr to the ground while defending a corner on 76 minutes.
Corr stepped up to take the spot kick but was denied excellently by Tommy Lee, who saved well down to his left.
The Spireites then had a clear cut opportunity of their own as they broke on the counter attack with Marc Richards finding Darikwa down the right wing. The 21-year-old’s cross to the back post was met by Gnanduillet but his looping header was saved well by Bentley, to deny Chesterfield their way back into the tie.
Moments later Southend forward Anthony Straker picked up the ball in the left back position and raced the length of the pitch, beating the Chesterfield defence with ease. The goalscorer in the first half played in Hurst whose left footed shot from a tight angle beat Tommy Lee on 83 minutes to end the Spireites’ FA Cup campaign.
The result denies Chesterfield a place in the hat for the third round draw for the 16th time in 18 years, as the Spireites’ Cup gloom continues.
After the match, Paul Cook expressed his frustration.
He said: ‘It’s a tough performance to take in terms of having started the game so well and getting a goal up.
‘I felt Southend totally dominated the half from there and they were in the ascendency; they were on the front foot, they were first to every second ball and they looked everything that we didn’t look.
‘I thought in the second half we did ok, we looked the better team and we were trying our best to get the equaliser.
‘We tried to make a couple of substitutions to help and then all of a sudden the penalty swung it and the goal just killed us. It’s a disappointing day.
‘We wish Southend the best of luck in the next round. I think it’s important that we have some manners when you do get beaten, and we’ll concentrate on the game on Tuesday night.’
Chesterfield travel to Boundary Park on Tuesday night in the northern area semi final of the Johnstone’s Pain Trophy, before the visit of John Sheridan’s Plymouth Argyle on Saturday.
Talbot, Evatt, Hird, McFadzean (Doyle ’75);
Darikwa, O’Shea (Richards ’69), Roberts (Humphreys ’16);
Subs not used: Chapman, Togwell, Devitt, McSheffrey.