Champions Chesterfield sign off from National League with thrilling late win against Maidenhead United

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Chesterfield signed off from the National League with a thrilling late 3-2 win against mid-table Maidenhead United.

In front of a record crowd at the SMH Group Stadium of 10,108, two goals in two first-half minutes from Liam Mandeville and Joe Quigley put the Spireites in front at half-time but the visitors bagged two goals in 10 minutes after the break through Tristan Abrahams and Kevin Lokko to level the score.

Substitute Ollie Banks’ superb strike in the 88th minute sealed a first win in five as Town capped a memorable season in thrilling fashion. It was a fitting way to end such a remarkable campaign.

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The Blues, who had only beaten the part-time Magpies once in 10 attempts, got one over their biggest bogey side from their six years in non-league as they now look forward to a return to the Football League.

Chesterfield finished the season at home to Maidenhead United. Picture: Tina JennerChesterfield finished the season at home to Maidenhead United. Picture: Tina Jenner
Chesterfield finished the season at home to Maidenhead United. Picture: Tina Jenner

At the end of the game, the trophy was once again lifted and the players paraded it around the pitch and there will be an open top bus parade and town hall reception on Sunday to mark their achievement.

There were four changes to Chesterfield’s starting line-up from the defeat against Gateshead on Monday as Jeff King, Miguel Freckleton, Darren Oldaker and Michael Jacobs replaced Ryheem Sheckleford, Branden Horton, Mike Jones and Bailey Hobson.

The first-half was much better from the Spireites, who played like the champions that they are.

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The first chance came when Freckleton, who had a really impressive first 45, did well to keep the ball in play before cutting the ball back but recently-crowned Player of the Year Tom Naylor smashed it over.

In-form Maidenhead responded with a counter-attack down the right with Sam Barratt. Tyrone Williams lost his footing which allowed Barratt to get a shot off but Harry Tyrer saved with his legs.

Chesterfield were looking much brighter in the final third and Oldaker slipped Dobra in but his shot was superbly blocked.

Back down the other end, Ashley Nathaniel-George pounced on a loose pass from Freckleton but Naylor deflected his curling shot behind for a corner.

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Not long after, Nathaniel-George intercepted a pass from Williams but his cross was then volleyed over by Reece Smith.

Michael Jacobs had caused the visitors lots of problems and his outside-of-the-boot cross only needed a touch but there was nobody there to apply the finish.

But then Chesterfield scored two goals in two minutes when some clever play from Quigley allowed Mandeville to score with a first-time finish in the box. After creating the first, Quigley then slotted in the second from close-range after Dobra cut the ball back from the byline.

But despite their strong first 45, the Blues have a recent habit of starting second-halves slowly and they did so again here, conceding twice in the first 10 minutes. First, Smith’s deflected strike fell into the path of Abrahams. And then the visitors equalised when Sam Beckwith’s free-kick was not dealt with and Lokko jumped highest to nod in.

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Dobra had a great chance to put Chesterfield back in front just before the hour but his side-footed attempt was straight at Craig Ross.

Naylor then had a goal ruled out after he headed in Mandeville’s corner and then Ross made a smart reaction save from Dobra as the Spireites started to find their feet again.

With 20 minutes remaining, Quigley’s intelligent flick set-up Dobra but his side-footed strike hit the post and bounced back out.

Chesterfield controlled the remainder of the game but it looked like it was heading for a draw until they found a late winner when substitute Banks arrowed a shot into the far corner from distance and the victory was secured thanks to a stunning reaction save from Tyrer in the dying seconds to prevent Freckleton from diverting the ball into his own net.

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It was a fitting way to end a memorable season as Chesterfield go sailing back to the Football League. Roll on August.

Chesterfield: Tyrer; King (Clements, 70), Williams, Grimes, Freckleton; Oldaker, Naylor; Mandeville, Jacobs, Dobra (Banks, 75); Quigley (Hobson, 85)

Unused subs: Jones, Curtis

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