The Spireites’ precipice clinging extends into this weekend after a come -from-behind win on the chilly North Sea coast at Victoria Park - and it marks the first time this season that John Sheridan’s men have earned maximum points after trailing.
Sub Danny Whitaker, whose introduction breathed life into a previously lack-lustre side, equalised Gary Liddle’s first half goal. Ten minutes later Jordan Bowery headed home from Scott Boden’s cross to make it a goal and an assist from off the bench and earn Chesterfield a second straight victory in the all but impossible quest to retain League One status.
The manager was able to select an unchanged side, a real rarity, indeed all 5 subs were also the same as those named for the 4-0 Easter Monday win over Wycombe Wanderers.
The line-up again showed a 4-1-4-1 formation with Jimmy Juan playing just behind Franck Moussa and Mark Randall with Bowery alone up front.
However for the second half, a tactical switch saw Craig Westcarr join Bowery in attack and a more familiar 4-4-2 took shape. But it wasn’t until Westcarr, who’d limped off in the last two matches with groin and hamstring problems respectively, and Juan, much quieter than last time out, were replaced by Boden and Whitaker that the game began to change.
Hartlepool enjoyed the best of the opening 45, but they were far from impressive.
With a front two that had bagged just 4 career league goals between them and a failure to have scored more than 1 goal in any of their previous 9 games, indeed they’d not conceded more than 1 in any of those encounters either, the hosts always looked a little powder-puff in attack.
Neither promotion nor relegation were issues for the hosts who saw Ryan Noble and Andy Monkhouse have decent shots saved by Tommy Lee whilst a Moussa effort, deflected into the air and falling kindly for keeper Scott Flinders, was the Spireites only first-half effort on target.
Ex Chesterfield loan man Peter Hartley headed on target, but weakly, before Liddle turned in Noble’s right sided pass from close range to give Pools a 37th minute lead.
With the game until then being more like a pre-season friendly, at least that sparked United to move up a gear or two.
After the break, Noble delivered a couple of decent shots that Lee had to deal with and Anthony Sweeney hit wide before the Spireites subs’ sprang into action.
Whitaker, who’s taken more than his fair share of stick this season, with just his second touch, powerfully volleyed home Bowery’s cross from the right for a technically perfect goal from 15 yards with 58 played.
Provider Bowery then had a chance of his own but, from Randall’s inch-perfect pass, he shot high from a goal-scoring position.
The 20 year old though refused to let that bother him as soon after he latched on to sub Boden’s long left sided cross to head in from the edge of the six.
Skipper Simon Ford and fellow defender Josh Thompson battled well to keep United at bay to keep the hopes of a potential miracle alive.
However the B2net will definitely see a relegation this weekend. Either Chesterfield or Rochdale, or maybe both, will go down. If either side wins, they’ll need the right results from Orient, who host Yeovil and Walsall, who travel to bottom four side Exeter.
FOR MORE ON THE MATCH AND PHOTOS, SEE THIS WEEK’S DERBYSHIRE TIMES