Brilliant Chesterfield denied memorable FA Cup victory by West Brom in injury-time - how it happened
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Thomas-Asante headed home his second of the match to break the Spireites’ hearts but they could still be so proud of their performance and they will get another chance in a replay at The Hawthorns.
Town showed tremendous spirit to equalise twice and then take the lead in a breathtaking first-half.
In front of a packed crowd of 9,819, Armando Dobra scored twice, taking him to five FA Cup goals this season, which lifted the roof off the Technique.
Despite the late equaliser, Chesterfield’s heroes were given a deserved standing ovation after a pulsating tie.
The Baggies took the lead inside 90 seconds when Thomas-Asante volleyed in Karlan Grant’s cross.
But the Spireites quickly equalised when Tyrone Williams finished from close-range after a well-worked corner involving Jeff King and Jamie Grimes.
The Championship side went ahead for a second time on 17 minutes when Grant slotted in a one-on-one.
But Town fought back again when Dobra smashed in Liam Mandeville’s cross on 36 minutes before grabbing his second after Davd Button parried Joe Quigley’s shot into his path.
With just two minutes remaining of five added-on, Thomas-Asante was left unmarked in the box to head in and spark wild celebrations from the 2,000 Baggies’ fans.
Paul Cook made two changes from the win against Scunthorpe United on New Year’s Day. In came Williams and Tim Akinola for Ash Palmer and Akwasi Asante.
West Brom boss Carlos Corberan took the unusual step of naming his starting line-up more than 24 hours before the game in his Friday morning press conference. Former Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa used to do the same, and Corberan worked under him at Elland Road.
Despite the vast changes, the Baggies still had attacker Grady Diangana, who cost £18m from West Ham, £15m striker Grant, and Jake Livermore, capped seven times by England, in their starting line-up. In contrast, Chesterfield's starting line-up cost somewhere between £100k-200k.
It was looking like it would be a comfortable afternoon for the Baggies when Thomas-Asante volleyed in Grant’s cross inside 90 seconds, but that was just the start of the drama.
The visitors pushed for a second but they were pegged back on seven minutes when the hosts equalised from their first corner. It was played short to King, who cut inside and delivered a deep cross to the far post which Grimes headed back across goal and Williams finished from close-range.
Ten minutes later, the Championship side retook the lead as Adam Reach slipped in Grant one-on-one and he slotted in.
Then it was madness. Dobra, who had scored in all three of Chesterfield’s previous FA Cup games this campaign, took the fight to West Brom and scored a brace before half-time.
First, he met Mandeville’s low cross to blast in from about 10 yards on 36 minutes after a lovely move.
Not settling to be level at the break, Cook’s men piled forward and Dobra smashed in again after Button parried from Quigley.
Chesterfield could have scored more goals throughout the half and a hat-trick of chances fell to Mandeville. He was denied by a stunning low reaction save from Button and he also went close with a cheeky flick from the corner. Earlier, he curled narrowly wide from inside the area.
Dobra, who had been immense, had also caused a scramble in the six-yard box after great work down the left.
Chesterfield won corner after corner, and threatened from pretty much all of them. West Brom must have been shell-shocked at half-time and they brought on Jayson Mulumby for Zac Ashworth at half-time.
The magnificent Akinola hooked the ball over the bar early after the break, while down the other end Ross Fitzsimons saved with his feet to deny Thomas-Asante.
By the 65-minute mark, Baggies boss Corberan had made four substitutions as he went in search of an equaliser.
The game continued to swing from end to end, with both teams having little spells of pressure.
Whenever the Baggies were in the ascendency, the noise from the home stands grew louder and louder as they urged their heroes in blue on. Every tackle, header and duel won was cheered like a goal.
With 10 minutes remaining, substitute Kabongo Tshimanga hit the side-netting, while substitute Daryl Dike forced Fitzsimons to parry after breaking the offside trap. The home stopper was then called into action again from Thomas-Asante.
During five minutes of added-time, Fitzsimons parried a Dike header and Williams cleared.
But with two minutes remaining, Thomas-Asante headed home in the 93rd minute to rescue a draw for the visitors. Such was their relief, some of the Baggies’ fans ran onto the pitch in the celebrations.
It was a gutting ending for Chesterfield and nobody could have said they did not deserve to advance to the fourth round for the first time since 2015.
A packed house, electric atmosphere, great football and drama, the Spireites will hope for more days like this. A glimpse into the future perhaps.
Chesterfield XI (4-1-4-1): Fitzsimons’ King, Williams, Grimes, Clements (Horton, 71); Jones; Mandeville, Akinola (Asante, 87), Oldaker (Banks, 71), Dobra (Uchegbulam, 87), Quigley (Tshimanga, 76) Unused subs: Covolan, Sheckleford, Palmer, Clarke.