Spireites: It was Premier League quality, says Chesterfield’s Gary Roberts

Gary Roberts looks to get past Cheltenham's Richards by Tina Jenner Cheltenham Town v Chesterfield
Gary Roberts looks to get past Cheltenham's Richards by Tina Jenner Cheltenham Town v Chesterfield

Dan Gardner’s opener at Cheltenham Town wouldn’t look out of place in the Premier League, says Chesterfield team-mate Gary Roberts.

It was almost a goal a minute for the Spireites as they bagged four in quick succession during a devastating spell at Whaddon Road on Tuesday night.

Dan Gardner sets the Spireites off scoring at Cheltenham by Tina Jenner Cheltenham Town v Chesterfield

Dan Gardner sets the Spireites off scoring at Cheltenham by Tina Jenner Cheltenham Town v Chesterfield

The League Two leaders were defending a corner seconds before breaking the deadlock with an incisive breakaway started by Tommy Lee and led by Roberts.

The flying winger sped over halfway and delivered a pinpoint cross towards the far post where Gardner unleashed a rocket that flew into the bottom corner.

“It’s all about the finish,” said Roberts. “If that’s in the Premiership they’d be talking about it for weeks on end. The ball has come at him really quickly and the way he finished it was different class.”

The opener gave Chesterfield the springboard they needed to go on and win the game, but few in the crowd would have anticipated what was to come next.

Eoin Doyle, Ollie Banks and Liam Cooper all found the back of the net within seven minutes to all but guarantee three points for the Paul Cook’s Spireites.

“It was quite exciting. We were four up by half time and played some great stuff. We started the game very brightly,” said the 29-year-old, Roberts.

“We knew we had to after Wycombe at the weekend so we knew we had to get on the front foot. I thought we did and by looking at the goals we looked devastating.

“Everyone wanted the ball. Once you get your first goal people tend to settle down. We got the first and soon after got the second, third and fourth.

“The team is brimming with confidence then. We knocked the ball about really well and I think we could have had a couple more by the end.

“When you’re four-nil up you’ve got to be a little bit more clever in the second half. It wasn’t as pretty but it was a great first half performance.”

The only thing missing for Roberts was a goal. He came agonisingly close in the second half after he raced through missed the far corner from an angle.

“By my own standards,” he said. “In games like those, I always fancy myself to get a goal. Sammy Morsy has put me in with a great pass and it’s missed the post by an inch. Hopefully I’ll get one next time.”

Second half substitute Sam Togwell probably felt he should have made it five when he failed to convert from inside the six yard box with the goal gaping.

And, as the game got stretched, keeper Tommy Lee had to produce a handful of smart stops at important times in the game to preserve Chesterfield’s lead.

He was aided by what Cook said described “as good a centre half display as I’ve seen in my career” from the experienced club captain Ian Evatt.

Roberts added: “I don’t think we gave them a sniff first half but they’re bound to come out and have a go. Tommy Lee, Ian Evatt and Liam Cooper were different class.

“They are the best two centre-halves by a mile in the league. They showed it tonight with their experience and how comfortable they are at this level.

“Great credit to them, even though we got four goals, you don’t forget the lads at the back who put a real shift in.”