Another great game, another great result. Spireites under Danny Wilson look a significantly more coherent unit and they could easily have won this game by a greater margin but for some poor decision making by the officials.
Jay O’Shea opened the scoring midway through the first half and Chesterfield had two efforts disallowed, one undeniably wrongly, before the break. Rochdale levelled and were then in the ascendency, Ian Henderson stooping to head Matthew Lund’s ball into the net.
Lee Novak bundled in sub Dan Gardner’s cross following some silky skills for his tenth goal of the season and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake took advantage of some sloppy Jimmy McNulty defending to grab the ball and shoot home an 80th minute beauty.
With the game seemingly won, Man of the Match Gboly Ariyibi was controversially red carded after being booked for a second time, both cards being for simulation. The short-handed team conceded in injury time, Rhys Bennett heading in Nathaniel Mendez-Laing’s cross, but Chesterfield hung on to register back to back victories.
In the 100th League meeting between these two old rivals, Chesterfield saw Gboly Ariyibi put in the performance of his career. The American-born winger, who will be 21 next Monday, gave left-back Michael Rose such a roasting, having picked up a booking for a foul on the flyer, the defender subbed just after Spireites opener, created by Ariyibi.
A burst down the right, leaving Rose for dead, was followed by a ball in for Ebanks-Blake, he flicked the ball back first time for O’Shea who steadied himself to place the ball just inside the post.
Rose’s replacement, Tom Kennedy, fared no better. His first action saw him wonder where Ariyibi had gone, the ball was crossed in and Novak converted, only for an offside flag to rule the effort out.
Ariyibi, who’d earlier shot within a couple of inches with his less favoured left-foot, again destroyed Kennedy. He made 60 yards’ rapid progress, delivered deep for Novak, received the ball back, cut in and fired home, via a deflection for 2-0. With Dale lining up for the restart, referee Boyeson, who had already booked Ariyibi harshly for what he felt was a dive outside the penalty area, had a long chat with his assistant and the goal was disallowed for offside.
The explanation was the deflection came off Novak, standing in an offside position, the video evidence was clear that it clipped the leg of a defender and the goal should have been allowed.
Dale rallied after the break, levelled seconds after Sam Morsy should have scored and they then built a head of steam, only for Novak and Ebanks-Blake to re-establish Spireites deserved advantage. Late on, Ariyibi looked to have been clipped by Kennedy in the box, no penalty, but a red card ahead of a nervy ending due to Bennett’s goal.
Rochdale: Lillis 6, Cannon 6, McNulty 5, Lancashire 7, Rose 4 (Kennedy 30, 4), Vincenti 5, Lund 7, McDermott 7 (Mendez-Laing 76), Allen 5 (Bennett 50), Andrew 7, Henderson 8. Subs Not used): Diba-Musangu, Rafferty, Alessandra, Noble-Lazarus.
Goals: Henderson 58, Bennett 90+3
Chesterfield: Lee 6, O’Neil 7, Hird 7, Raglan 6, Donohue 6, O’Shea 7 (Gardner 70, 7), Herd 7 (Banks 65, 6), Morsy 6, Ariyibi 9, Novak 8, Ebanks-Blake 7. Subs (not used): Chapman, Harrison, Simons, Dieseruvwe, Maguire.
Goals: O’Shea 26, Novak 77, Ebanks-Blake 80
Ref: Carl Boyeson (Hull)
Booked: Hird, Ariyibi, Lee (Chesterfield), Rose, McDermott, Lund (Rochdale)
Sent-Off: Ariyibi (second yellow 86)
Attendance: 2,965 (506 from Chesterfield).