Match report: Chesterfield 1 Morecambe 1

Connor Townsend in action against Morecambe by Tina Jenner Chesterfield v Morecambe
Connor Townsend in action against Morecambe by Tina Jenner Chesterfield v Morecambe

Chesterfield came from a goal down to end 2012 with a draw at home to Morecambe despite being reduced to 10 men.

Conor Townsend curled a delightful free kick to draw the Spireites level in the first half before receiving a straight red after an aerial challenge with Shrimps skipper Will Haining in the second.

Chris McCready gave the visitors the lead against the run of play after half an hour but Chesterfield stood up to the physical battle that followed and were unlucky not to win it late on through Danny Whitaker.

Whitaker was rewarded for his sparkling performance off the bench on Boxing Day with a starting place alongside Brennan Dickenson in the only two changes made by manager Paul Cook.

Luis Boa Morte and Mark Randall made way while there was also a place on the bench for the returning Marc Richards from injury.

Former Chesterfield goalkeeper Barry Roche was between the sticks for the visitors and he had to be on his toes early on to tip over Liam Cooper’s goal-bound header from Whitaker’s in swinging corner.

Morecambe had the cross bar to thank for preventing the hosts taking the lead moments later after Drew Talbot’s powerful glancing header rebounded off the woodwork.

Whitaker tested the visiting keeper once more when he picked the ball up 25 yards out and unleashed a curling effort Roche just got his palms to for the Spireites’ fourth corner in the first 15 minutes.

But despite their early dominance, it was the Shrimps who took the lead through McCready. The centre back was in the right place at the right time to re-direct Richard Brodie’s header from an in-swinging corner.

Tommy Lee looked to have made a fantastic save but the linesman flagged the ball had crossed the line.

It was clear Chesterfield were in a battle against Jim Bentley’s men and the hosts drew level five minutes before half time from an over robust challenge 25 yards out.

Townsend stepped up confidently and curled an inch perfect free kick over the wall and into the corner of the net with Roche rooted to his line.

Joe McGee had sight of goal just before the break but he dragged his shot harmlessly wide following a flowing counter attack from Morecambe.

The Spireites were causing Morecambe all sorts of problems in the air and it was Hird this time who saw his header pushed over by the grateful Roche from five yards out.

A half time change saw Scott Boden come on for the ineffective Dickenson as Paul Cook reverted to a 4-2-3-1 formation that has served him well so far.

O’Shea switched to the right side of the attacking three in midfield and it was he who had the first effort of the second half from long range, but his speculative drive was never going to trouble the score.

Nathan Smith was next to test Roche with a swinging right-foot shot from the edge of the area that the visiting keeper was equal to.

And on 64 minutes the man who had drawn Chesterfield level was sent off when he appeared to catch Morecambe skipper Will Haining with a raised arm.

Townsend looked bemused but referee Carl Berry had no hesitation in issuing the red card.

It could easily have spelled the end for the Spireites but they continued to push forward in search of the goal which would almost certainly settle this spicy encounter.

Some further dubious decisions by the man in black had the home faithful frustrated and he became the subject of regular boos.

Togwell, Whitaker and Boden all tried their luck but it wasn’t to be and the Spireites had Lee to thank for making a save at full stretch to his left from Alessandro in injury time.

Spireites: Lee; Talbot (Boa Morte 82), Cooper, Hird (c), Smith; Togwell, Townsend, Darikwa, Whitaker, Dickenson (Boden 45), O’Shea (Clay 67)

Subs: O’Donnell, Randall, Richards, Trotman

Shrimps: Roche; Parrish, McCready, Haining (c), Wright; McGee (Reid 73), Drummond, McDonald; Alessandra, Brodie (Parkinson 86), Ellison (Burrow 79)

Subs: Arestidou, Fenton, Threlfall, Doyle

Referee: Carl Berry

Attendance: 6,358 (179)

Red card: Townsend 64