Analysis: 95 minutes of Chesterfield determination shocks Bolton Wanderers
Chesterfield produced 95 minutes of sheer bloody minded determination to shock Bolton Wanderers.
The Spireites played some nice football at times too in the 1-0 victory, Liam O’Neil’s fine finish after a slick move separating the two sides.
Goalkeeper Lloyd Allinson made two vital stops, one of them from a one-on-one duel with the in-form Zach Clough, but other than that Bolton appeared to have misplaced their shooting boots.
The return of Sam Hird bolstered a Town side in desperate need of points and the victory took them out of the bottom four for the first time since October.
Danny Wilson put Hird just in front of his back four with the aim of screening the physical Gary Madine and it worked a treat.
Madine was restricted to just one chance all game, Allinson equal to it.
The Town keeper looked confident from the off, dealing comfortably with a couple of speculative efforts.
Jay O’Shea was influential throughout for the hosts, clocking up an impressive amount of time on the ball, driving his side out of defence and into attack.
Chesterfield had weathered a bit of a mini storm before they took the lead.
Gboly Ariyibi, reinstated to the side after being rested last week, looked recharged and out to prove a point.
It was he who accelerated into the Bolton box before rolling the ball into the path of O’Neil, the midfielder applying a delightful finish.
His sidefoot shot gave Ben Alnwick no chance, finding the top corner and giving Town a surprise lead.
But unlike recent outings against the likes of Sheffield United and Peterborough, Chesterfield remained switched on and saw the job through to completion.
A clever free-kick move almost gave Ched Evans a clear sight of goal, a defender getting a touch on his 16-yard shot to deflect it over.
Then came Allinson’s big moment, staying big and waiting for Clough to make his move, blocking the pint sized forward’s shot after he scampered clear.
The second half wasn’t the onslaught many may have feared, but Bolton were wasteful on several occasions.
Clough was guilty of finding the back of the stand instead of the net on two occasions when well placed inside the Town box.
Chesterfield’s performance was a gutsy one, defending from the front and throwing themselves into every challenge.
The display was epitomised by young Connor Dimaio, hurling his body into 40:60 challenges with much bigger men, and Evans haring after defenders in the final minutes, giving them no time on the ball and stopping attacks at source.
Defending from the front was hugely effective and Bolton struggled to find ways around it.
When the Trotters did have possession in the final third they were closed down, the man on the bal hunted and harried making even long distance shots difficult.
All Chesterfield were missing was a little composure on the ball when breaking out, squandering a couple of promising positions when a second goal would have killed the visitors off entirely.
As luck would have it, Bolton couldn’t take advantage or punish their hosts.
Sammy Ameobi shot woefully over with one chance and then after dancing past a couple of tackles curled the ball beautifully, but crucially past the post.
There was always the danger of one last opportunity and deep in stoppage time it fell to Jay Spearing.
The ball dropped invitingly for him around eight yards out and he summed up his team’s attacking output by blasting the ball miles over.
A packed away end had reverberated with noise all afternoon but in the last minutes it was the home supporters who raised the roof – generating an atmosphere that hasn’t been bettered this season.
The final whistle and the 1-0 scoreline were a just reward for Wilson’s men and their efforts and a deserved Christmas bonus for the fans.