Read via the Chesterfield Post
Chesterfield cruised to a third consecutive league win with a resounding 3-1 victory over Bristol Rovers at the Proact.
Sam Morsy gave Chesterfield the lead before Lee Brown levelled for the visitors in spectacular fashion. Ollie Banks restored the home side’s lead and Eoin Doyle secured all three points to consolidate the Spireites’ lead at the top of SkyBet League Two.
Paul Cook’s side remained unchanged from the win over York City in midweek, with Morsy partnering Jimmy Ryan in the heart of midfield behind the in-form attacking trio of Dan Gardner, Banks and Gary Roberts.
Rovers boss John Ward named one change to the side that lost against Accrington, with forward Elliot Richards missing out through injury to be replaced by Chris Beardsley.
The game sparked into life with only four minutes gone as Roberts found Eoin Doyle breaking down the left wing, for the Irishman to cross from the byline and find Morsy unmarked who opened his goalscoring account for Chesterfield with a composed finish.
The Pirates offered little in response to their early set back and Chesterfield continued to press.
Ryan again impressed and orchestrated intricate passages of play from midfield, finding Gardner and Roberts on either wing with consummate ease.
On 18 minutes the hosts came close to doubling the lead after an exquisite first time through ball by Ryan split the Gas’ defence, only for a well timed tackle by Mark McChrystal to deny Roberts a one-on-one with Steve Mildenhall.
Tendayi Darikwa demonstrated his versatility in covering for Drew Talbot at right back. The 22-year-old combined well with Gardner on 24 minutes as he overlapped to produce a threatening cross which just evaded Doyle in front of goal, as the home side continued to search for a second.
Tommy Lee was left relatively untroubled throughout the first half, with the visitors resorting to speculative efforts from distance such was the resilience of Chesterfield’s defence.
The same could not be said for Rovers ‘keeper Mildenhall who matched efforts from Banks and Doyle as the 35-year-old veteran kept his side in the game with the Spireites continuing to dominate possession.
The Spireites’ resistance was broken against the run of play on 35 minutes after a counter attack led by Michael Smith led to left back Lee Brown finding himself in space on the edge of the area, to guide a superb curling effort over Tommy Lee into the top corner.
Chesterfield responded well and were soon back in the lead as Roberts left Smith for dead down the left wing, to cross at the byline for Banks to slot home with his sixth of the season, in an almost carbon copy of Morsy’s opener.
Paul Cook’s side started the second half as they had ended the first, and with 46 minutes on the clock Roberts capitalised on a defensive error to play in Doyle who outpaced Tom Parkes and slotted the ball through the legs of Mildenhall, for a perfect start to the second half.
3 – 1
The visitors’ frustrations soon told and Parkes resorted to a speculative effort from 30 yards, which sailed over Tommy Lee’s bar to the frustration of the 336 travelling fans.
Banks almost extended the lead ten minutes after the break with a powerful free kick from the edge of the area, forcing Mildenhall into an acrobatic save to tip over for a corner.
Winger Tom Lockyer came closest to troubling Tommy Lee in the second half with a header from a Chris Beardsley cross before Ollie Clarke saw his volleyed effort fly wide of the post in what were the only notable attempts on goal for the visitors in the second half.
Paul Cook made full use of his bench ahead of the trips to Fleetwood and Scunthorpe as Marc Richards and Gnanduillet replaced Doyle and Banks respectively.
With the game all but won, Jay O’Shea replaced Chesterfield’s January signing Dan Gardner on 80 minutes and the Irish playmaker was instantly involved.
Gnanduillet embarked on a forceful run from his own half to find Morsy on the edge of Mildenhall’s box. Morsy laid the ball off to O’Shea, only for the former Ireland Under-21 International to see his deflected effort rebound of the crossbar.
Rovers substitute David Clarkson neared a consolation goal with only minutes to play with a free kick, but his effort was matched by Lee who saved well to parry for a corner.
After the match, Chesterfield’s assistant manager Leam Richardson reflected on a deserved three points. He said, ‘The credit and the plaudits must go out to the players. I think they have applied themselves really well over the last few weeks, they’ve got good momentum and we’ve got a good dressing room at the minute, and long may that continue.
‘The lads responded really well to a couple of bad results, at Southend and against Rochdale, but that’s what you get paid for. You get paid to dust yourself off and go again which they have done really well.
‘I think confidence comes with time and time to develop relationships on the pitch. I think people forget that in the summer we brought in quite a number of players and we had a new team. We did a lot of work prior to christmas and now the lads are all wanting to play every minute, luckily we’ve got games coming thick and fast.
‘Today is a good day. We’ll tick it off, the lads have got their feet on the ground and we’ll look forward to Tuesday which will be a tough game.’
Chesterfield travel to Highbury Stadium to face Fleetwood in the first leg of the area semi final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on Tuesday , before the Saturday trip to Scunthorpe United who occupy second place in SkyBet League Two, three points adrift of Paul Cook’s side.
Darikwa, Evatt (c), Cooper, Humphreys;
Gardner, Banks (Richards ’71), Roberts;
Doyle (Gnanduillet ’71).
Subs not used: Dunbavin, Hird, Talbot, Smith.