Champagne on ice for Chesterfield with EFL promotion dream set to become a reality

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Chesterfield are potentially one win away from clinching the National League title and promotion back to the Football League.

Goals in each from Will Grigg and Tom Naylor, alongside a penalty save from Harry Tyrer, gave them a 2-0 win against rock-bottom Oxford City, who had some good chances on the night.

The result means they are now 23 points clear at the top of the table. If the Spireites beat Oldham Athletic in the lunchtime kick-off on Saturday, and then Barnet drop points against Woking in the 3pm start, then Town will secure the title and promotion. If that doesn’t happen, they will have to wait a few more days until they visit Halifax on March 20.

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Paul Cook named an unchanged starting line-up for just the third time this season as he opted to stick with the same side that beat AFC Fylde 4-1 on Saturday.

Tom Naylor scored Chesterfied's second goal. Picture: Tina Jenner.Tom Naylor scored Chesterfied's second goal. Picture: Tina Jenner.
Tom Naylor scored Chesterfied's second goal. Picture: Tina Jenner.

Oxford City came into this clash 14 points from safety, having conceded 81 goals, and with just two wins on the road all season.

Chesterfield got off to a dream start, taking the lead inside the first minute. Liam Mandeville swung in a corner, Naylor flicked it on, and Grigg finished first time from close-range.

Naylor almost doubled the lead a few minutes later but his low, deflected strike from the edge of the box was saved by the legs of goalkeeper Tom Watson.

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City’s first sight of goal came on 10 minutes when Nya Kirby tried to find the bottom corner from 18 yards but his shot went just wide.

Just before the 20-minute mark, Oxford were awarded a penalty by referee Stuart Morland when Tyrer was judged to have brought down Harry Birtwistle. But for the second successive game Tyrer saved a spot-kick, diving low to his right to keep out Josh Parker’s attempt.

Mandeville and Grigg both went close to making it 2-0, while down the other end Harvey Greenslade went through on goal but, with the angle against him, he hit the side-netting.

Greenslade was gifted another great chance when Naylor played a pass straight to him but Jamie Grimes did extremely well to get back and make a challenge and force the ball behind for a corner.

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To summarise, it had been a strange half. At times it looked too easy for Chesterfield and they could score whenever they wanted. But, at the same time, City had seen a penalty saved and had missed the better chances.

And Oxford had another good opportunity early in the second-half when Josh Ashby burst through from deep but his touch was heavy and Tyrer was able to collect.

On 55 minutes, it was 2-0. Ollie Banks slid in Naylor and he squeezed the ball home from a tight angle.

Moments later, Tyrer, determined to keep a clean sheet, made a smart fingertip save from Lewis Coyle.

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Mike Jones, fresh from his first goal in more than three years at the weekend, was encouraged to shoot from distance by the Town fans but his effort whistled narrowly wide.

Chesterfield came close to adding a third but Watson made two top saves from Ash Palmer and then Banks. Substitute Ryan Colclough then hit a post as the Blues put their foot on the gas.

Cook’s men totally dominated the last 25 minutes but they had to settle for 2-0. Parker went through one-on-one in added-time, but he curled wide, which summed up their night, because they had some very good chances.

Come Saturday at 5pm, Chesterfield’s sixth-year stay in non-league could be officially over. The party of all parties is about to commence. The champagne is on ice.

Chesterfield: Tyrer; Sheckleford, Palmer, Grimes, Horton; Jones, Naylor; Mandeville (Berry, 74), Banks (Jacobs, 81), Dobra (Colclough, 74); Grigg.

Unused subs: Williams, Quigley.