Chesterfield were comfortably beaten by their neighbours Sheffield United today at a Proact that was sold out, but half empty by full-time.
The Blades were well worth their 3-0 victory, stronger and more dynamic than their hosts all over the pitch.
When Chesterfield made mistakes they were punished, and on the very rare occasions they threatened their opponents, they couldn’t take the chances that arose.
United set out their stall early, winning three corners inside the three opening minutes, and taking the lead from the third.
Lee Novak was beaten to the ball at the back post by David Edgar and he knocked it back across goal for Alex Baptiste to bundle home.
Chesterfield had a chance to reply almost instantly, Novak escaping down the right and swinging the ball to the back post where Drew Talbot arrived but didn’t get enough on his shot to trouble George Long.
Connor Dimaio, starting against his former club for the first time, won a free-kick right on the edge of the United area, giving Jay O’Shea a shooting chance - his fierce effort hitting Baptiste in the face and deflecting over.
The Spireites’ skipper Gary Liddle then put in two challenges in quick succession that could have combined to earn him a red card.
A cynical block on Matt Done halted a quick break by the Blades and brought the game’s first yellow on 13 minutes. The very same block on Chris Basham a minute later mercifully resulted in just a talking to, but the combatitive midfielder was effectively handcuffed for the remainder of the fixture.
A nice touch by Dimaio on the edge of his box gave him space to spin a ball into space for Novak to run onto, the striker halted by a fine challenge from Edgar.
Chesterfield found themselves with a mountain to climb on 36 minutes, United gifted a second goal out of absolutely nothing.
Tommy Lee came out of his goal to make what looked like a routine clearance, until the presence of an attacking player forced the keeper to hurry his kick and when he handed possession to Che Adams the youngster stroked the ball into the empty net from 35 yards.
Another wayward clearance, this time by Tom Anderson, saw Ryan Flynn shape to shoot from the edge of the box, and although he caught it beautifully, Anderson flew into a brave block to make amends.
There was a brief moment of positivity for the Spireites before the break, Gboly Ariyibi beating Done twice, first with a trick, the second time with his pace, ultimately winning a corner.
But Sheffield United were straight back on the attack and Talbot needed to throw himself in the way of a Billy Sharp volley on the penalty spot, and a minute later Flynn shot wide from a similar position when he could have put the game to bed.
The half-time whistle brought a measure of relief for the hosts, United completely on top, but it was also greeted with boos from the Chesterfield fans, unimpressed with what they witnessed in the first half.
When they emerged from the tunnel again, the Spireites - now playing 3-5-2 - started with a lot more purpose, winning a free-kick in a good position that in turn led to a corner, neither resulting in a chance.
Novak finally had a sniff when he got the ball 18 yards out with his back to goal and turned to shoot, the weak effort easily saved.
United’s first opportunity of the half again fell to Flynn, receiving Adams’ pass and sidefooting wide of Lee’s left hand upright.
The game was as good as over on the hour mark, Chesterfield giving away possession far too easily from their own throw, Adams crossing and Sharp slotting home. It was a lesson in quick, simple, efficient attacking football.
Dimaio’s afternoon came to an end before the game kicked off again, Jordan Slew taking his place and joining Novak up front.
Despite having had very little to do, Long showed he was still switched on with a lightning quick reflex save, tipping O’Shea’s goalbound on-the-turn volley round the post.
His opposite number then pulled out an equally impressive stop, adjusting middive to palm away a deflected Flynn drive.
There was a glorious chance for Slew to give the home fans something to cheer with 10 minutes left, but when he burst into the box onto Novak’s flick on, he sent the ball well off target, and instead brought jeers from the fans of his former employers.
United almost finished with a flourish, Lee once again coming to the rescue to keep out Sharp’s point-blank effort and ensuring the scoreline didn’t get any worse.
Boos followed the final whistle again, as almost 3,000 Sheffield United fans celebrated their victory.
Chesterfield: Lee, Raglan, Talbot, Hird, Anderson, Liddle, Dimaio 6 (Slew 60), Banks, Aribiyi, O’Shea, Novak. Not used: Ebanks-Blake, Humphreys, Donohue, Chapman, Simons, Orrell, Slew.
Sheffield United: Long. Basham, Flynn (Cuvelier 76), Coutts, Sharp, Done (Woolford 88), McEveley, Baptiste, Adams (Calvert-Lewin 83), Edgar, Hammon. Not used: Howard, McGahey, Whiteman, Sammon.
Referee: Mr Graham Scott.
Assistants: Mr Adam Nunn, Mr Daniel Cook.
Yellows: Liddle 13
Goalscorers: Baptiste 4, Adams 36, Sharp 60
Attendance: 9,4102 (2,829 away)