Chesterfield’s Clucas leads 3-0 rout of Gillingham

Chesterfield vs Gillingham - Sam Clucas opens the scoring for Chesterfield - Pic By James Williamson
Chesterfield vs Gillingham - Sam Clucas opens the scoring for Chesterfield - Pic By James Williamson

Sam Clucas and Irishman Jay O’Shea celebrated St Patrick’s Day to put the Spireites right back in the heart of the play-off mix.

Chesterfield hosted Justin Edinburgh’s in-form Gillingham having lost the services of striker Caolan Lavery, recalled by Sheffield Wednesday.

That loss prompted manager Paul Cook to recall ex-Owl Drew Talbot from John Sheridan’s Plymouth Argyle and he went straight back into the side, at left back.

That meant Clucas was given the role of lone striker and he soon justified that call with a delightful third minute goal, a left-footed lift over Stuart Nelson from the right corner of the penalty box from Sam Hird’s pass, his ninth goal of the season.

Gboly Ariyibi also came into the starting line-up following the disappointing home defeat against Coventry City, Dan Jones moved to the bench for what the boss called a ‘must win’ game for Chesterfield.

Gills, who battled to a goalless draw at leaders Bristol City on Saturday, were unchanged having lost just once in their last 11 games.

Spireites soon eked a valuable two goal lead, on 12, when Clucas nodded on for Gary Roberts on the left; he spotted O’Shea’s run into the box and laid on a perfect ball for the midfielder to score his sixth goal of the season with a carefully placed shot from 10 yards.

Tommy Lee had to make a decent right sided save to scoop away a John Marquis downward header whilst left-back Joe Martin, who departed early through injury, and Bradley Dack both went close from free-kicks.

Martin’s departure led to a significant reshuffle of the pack to accommodate sub Jake Hessenthaler.

O’Shea was closest to adding to the home tally before the break, forcing a save from Nelson and curling a left-sider inches wide of the far post.

Cook pushed Ollie Banks further forwards after the break to give a 4-1-4-1 set up and the early possession in the second half belonged to the hosts but they couldn’t quite deliver intense pressure on Gills’ goal. That switch led to the visitors introducing Jermaine McGlashan for Oliver Muldoon.

McGlashan, who looked to have added pace to Gillingham’s set-up, crossed for Cody McDonald but his header was poor and went well wide.Tendayi Darikwa, O’Shea and Clucas had decent shots blocked, Banks fired close and Ariyibi won a corner that took an age to clear as the hosts began to camp in attacking territory, odd break apart, as the home side demonstrated solid game management, leading to Roberts setting up a third to avoid any late nerves.