SPIREITES: Chesterfield’s rollercoaster ends on a high

Chesterfield v Fleetwood Town. Chesterfield lift the trophy after winning the League 2 Championship
Chesterfield v Fleetwood Town. Chesterfield lift the trophy after winning the League 2 Championship

A rollercoaster of a season was given a fitting end as Chesterfield came from behind in devastating fashion to clinch the League Two title.

Spireites’ hearts were in mouths at half time when Matty Blair battled his way through a crowded penalty area to give Fleetwood the lead.

Scores elsewhere threatened to derail Paul Cook’s hopes all together as title rivals Rochdale and Scunthorpe United both lead early on.

But a handful of choice words from the Chesterfield manager at the break stabilised the cart - few would have predicted what was to follow.

Spireites came out with such purpose and energy they were unrecognisable to the side which had performed so lifelessly in the first half.

Jay O’Shea, last Sunday’s two-goal hero at Burton Albion which sealed promotion to League One, was instrumental from then on in.

He delivered an inch-perfect delivery to the back post for an unmarked Sam Hird to head down into the turf and past a helpless Chris Maxwell.

A packed out Proact Stadium had little time to catch their breath and check goings on elsewhere before Gary Roberts curled in the winner.

What continued was one of the most dominant displays Chesterfield have produced all campaign, including the first-half at Morecambe.

But there was to be no late sting in the tale this time around and no injury time goal from Fleetwood like their last two visits to the Proact.

They were a beaten side looking ahead to the play-offs while Spireites had only one thing in their sights - lifting the championship trophy.

Large portions of the crowd couldn’t help but rush on to the pitch to greet their title winning heroes before the medals ceremony took place.

Few would argue that Chesterfield have not earned it. They have been the best team in the league this season and are worthy champions.

A Wembley final in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy followed by the League Two title has made it a memorable season for the Spireites.

As a manager, Cook won two Irish FA Cups and a League Cup with Sligo Rovers - but he said nothing could top winning the championship.

“Sometimes I’ve felt the pressure a little bit towards the end of the season because you’ve got to deliver,” he said.

“When you’ve been up there and the expectancy, you worry about not delivering but last week we delivered and today we’ve got over the line and won the league.

He added: “I’m proud of our town of Chesterfield. At home we haven’t put people to the sword as we wanted to, but teams give us great respect and back off us.

“You’ve seen that in abundance today. Tonight’s about Chesterfield Football Club - champions of League Two.”

Gary Roberts joined the man who brought him to the Proact Stadium in underlining the degree of success of winning the league.

“It’s the best day of my footballing life,” he said. “It’s been a great season, we’ve not been out of the top three for long this season.

“We’ve gone out and done what we set out to do at the start of the season, it was a big statement and I’m over the moon.”

Chesterfield had ended the day as they had begun it - top of the table - which meant results elsewhere were all but redundant in the title race.

Rochdale let their lead slip, like Fleetwood, to the ten men of Newport County who won 2-1 and Scunthorpe were held 2-2 by York City.

But the day belonged to Chesterfield as they finished the season as they had started it - unbeaten in eight games and on a high.

Teams

Chesterfield (4-2-3-1): Lee 7; Talbot 7 (Gardner 56, 7), Hird 7, Evatt (C) 7, Smith 7; Ryan 8, Humphreys 7; Darikwa 7, O’Shea 9, Roberts 8 (Togwell 84); Doyle 7 (Richards 80).

Subs (not used): Dunbavin, Devitt, Beesley, Gnanduillet.

Fleetwood (4-5-1): Maxwell 7; Hogan 6, Cresswell 7, Jordan 6, Taylor 6; Blair 8, Schumacher (C) 7, Murdoch 6, Evans 7; Morris 6 (Hughes 71); Parkin 6.

Subs (not used): Davies, Roberts, Sarcevic, Allen, Ball, Barton.

Goals: Hird 51, Roberts 55 (Chesterfield); Blair (Fleetwood).

Sendings off: None.

Bookings: None (Chesterfield); Jordan 56 (Fleetwood).

Referee: Andrew Madley (West Yorkshire).

Attendance: 9,037 (261).