For the second time this season, these two teams put on a humdinger of a show.
Goals, great saves, missed sitters, excellent play, shocking play, formation changes and bags of passion combined with a result that was in doubt right until the final whistle to give all of the ingredients needed to ensure 90 plus minutes of top quality entertainment.
Pre-match banter referred to Rovers’ 3-2 win back in September when the home side went two up ahead of a spirited Spireites second half show that just fell short. Post-match chat included both sides being pleased with a point and both sides being disappointed they didn’t win, sure fire comments that backed up the nature of the action witnessed.
Rovers got off to a flyer; two up in nine minutes through James Coppinger and Andy Butler before the inevitability of an Eoin Doyle goal, his 25th of the campaign, just before the interval and it changed the complexion of the game.
Paul Dickov’s men could have put the result beyond doubt before the hour mark as Tommy Lee and the post came to Spireites’ rescue but as the game entered its final phase, Chesterfield built up a head of steam and Jimmy Ryan’s deserved late equalising header came as no surprise.
Doncaster’s manager, his side now unbeaten in eight league excursions, said: “We’re disappointed we couldn’t hang on but you have to give Chesterfield a lot of credit for coming back into the game, they’re a very good team; we knew that before we came.
“We started really well, went two up but in the last fifteen minutes of the first half we dropped off but in the second half we should have been three or four-one up with two one on ones, the keeper made two fantastic saves, we had a great effort that hit the post but in the dying minutes they equalised.”
Spireites’ Assistant Manager Leam Richardson commented: “We got caught cold for the first nine minutes; we knew Doncaster had got individual players that can hurt you at any time but the honesty and endeavour our players showed after that start meant that we deserved a point in the end.
“The tempo of the game was good, both sides were trying to win the game and in the second half, albeit Doncaster had several chances and Tommy Lee was excellent, we felt if we just kept pursuing it we had the energy and quality on the pitch to get something.
“At times it was good, it was bad, it was rubbish, it was brilliant, we had goals, penalty decisions, it was scrappy, it had a bit of everything.”
Richardson’s reference to penalty calls, both in the second half, surrounded a shout for handball from one of the seven second half corners the hosts forced and the other when Doyle was bundled over by a combination of Reece Wabara and Luke McCullogh as he darted into the danger area.
Referee Darren Deadman, never popular at the Proact, was inconsistent throughout.
He didn’t book Sam Morsy for the foul that led to James Coppinger’s injury but he was carded for a lesser foul later on.
Coppinger’s replacement Kyle Bennett, a card already in the bank, was fortunate to stay on the park with two bad challenges in quick succession; he didn’t last long after the second, the Rovers’ bench rapidly replaced him with Nathan Tyson.
Lee in particular was incensed at Butler’s goal, claiming Uche Ikpeazu had pulled him to the floor as Harry Forrester’s corner came over.
The keeper was booked for his concerns.
Ikpeazu, huge and powerful, showed glimpses of why Dickov has brought him in. The teenager had a more than encouraging debut, creating openings for himself and others before being one of Lee’s one on one losers and seeing an edge of the ‘D’ belter hammer against the upright.
Chesterfield’s own debutant, Byron Harrison, came on at half-time and showed moments of promise that will ensure he has many more minutes on the pitch as the season hots up.
Rovers’ opener showed just how valuable Coppinger is and, should his injury prove to be a nasty one, how much he’ll be missed. McCullogh played a long ball down the right channel over the midfielder’s shoulder and he brought it down perfectly, took a second touch before launching an angled riser into the top of the far corner to register a goal of pure class.
Butler’s far post header from a right wing corner gave Rovers a dream start ahead of both sides being forced to reshuffle. Coppinger’s departure was followed by Spireites’ Dan Gardner leaving the action after his first start since November. Paul Cook changed to a three at the back formation, not one he’s used a great deal in the past; that switch to five in the middle ultimately led to Curtis Main being pulled further back to match up.
Indeed it was Main who was the other player thwarted by Lee. He showed incredible skill to burst through the pack but he too came out second best to the long serving Lee when it was a straight battle between the two men.
Having seen six yard sitters missed by Sam Clucas and Jay O’Shea, Ian Evatt’s header brought out the best in Stephen Bywater, Chesterfield did halve the deficit when Morsy’s pinpoint pass allowed Doyle to convert from six yards and the host’s final half hour pressure culminated when ex-Rovers man Sam Hird, playing against his home town club for the first time, switched play from left to right, Doyle headed across the six, Harrison was unable to convert but, all alone at the far post, Ryan was there to head in from close range.
A game that will be long remembered produced the right result and the right level of entertainment and left both teams feeling they’ve got enough in the tank to mount a serious challenge for a coveted play-off spot, though if Doyle departs Chesterfield today, fans will be hoping a more than decent replacement comes in.
Chesterfield (4-4-1-1): Lee 8, Darikwa 5, Raglan 6, Hird 7, Jones 5 (Harrison HT, 6), O’Shea 6 (Humphreys 64, 6), Ryan 7, Morsy 8, Clucas 5, Gardner 5 (Evatt 29, 7), Doyle 7. Subs (not used): Wright, Banks, Dieseruvwe, Ariyibi.
Goals: Doyle 43, Ryan 87
Doncaster (4-4-2): Bywater 6, Wabara 6, Butler 7, McCullogh 6, Stevens 6, Coppinger (Bennett 13, 6) (Tyson 64, 7), Forrester 8, Keegan 6, Wellens 6, Main 7, Ikpeazu 8 (Furman 72). Subs: Marosi, McCombe, Wakefield, Bennett, Robinson.
Goals: Coppinger 3, Butler 9
Referee: Darren Deadman (Peterborough)
Booings: Morsy,O’Shea, Lee (Chesterfield), Bennett (Doncaster)
Chesterfield Assistant Manager Leam Richardson
We’re used to seeing fluid and fluent games here and it wasn’t one of those today but it certainly had both sets of fans on the edge of their seats. We’re disappointed for Dan Gardner, he’s been chomping at the bit to play, he’s been coming off the bench an exciting people; it was his chance to shine. The challenge on him was poor and he’s in the treatment room which isn’t good for us.
Doncaster Manager Paul Dickov
I feel it should have been three points, it was a very similar game to the one we played at our place when it was 3-2 between two good football teams; it was another good spectacle. It was a bad foul on James Coppinger, the boy’s gone through the back of him and caught him and he’s in quite some pain. Dean Furman only got back into the Country on Friday afternoon but it was an easy decision to involve him in the squad.
Tommy Lee was Spireites’ hero, making two fantastic saves early in the second half to deny Main and Ikpeazu in one on ones to ensure Jimmy Ryan’s goal was an equaliser and not a consolation. Rovers’ was less obvious, and it’s more a hero of the future because Uche Ikpeazu certainly looks like he’s got all of the attributes to be an instant hero. The real hero though, ex-player of both teams Ernie Moss, who handed over a cheque at half-time for over £3000 to Dementia UK raised at the recent Ernie Moss Day.
Football managers often forget that football is part of the entertainment industry, so hats off to Pauls Cook & Dickov for ensuring their sides put on a show that was worth anyone’s ticket price. Not always pretty, not always perfect, but always fascinating and always captivating. That’s Entertainment.
If you want to know what Chesterfield fans thought of Peterborough’s Darren Deadman, just take to Twitter, suffice to say, he’s not popular right now in North Derbyshire! Baffling show throughout.
Eoin Doyle’s 43rd minute goal changed the half-time team talk in both dressing rooms. His instinctive finish though was only possible due to Sam Morsy’s angled delivery into the box. 0-2 at half time, Doncaster win, 1-2 at half-time, anything goes.