Match Report: Chesterfield 2 Rochdale 2

Jimmy Ryan battles in midfield for the Spireites against Rochdale. Pic: Tina Jenner.
Jimmy Ryan battles in midfield for the Spireites against Rochdale. Pic: Tina Jenner.

A dramatic finish at the Proact Stadium saw Chesterfield throw away a two goal lead to draw with promotion rivals Rochdale.

The Spireites were just minutes away from three points after goals from Gary Roberts and Marc Richards had put the hosts ahead.

But an Ian Henderson penalty in the 91st minute reduced the deficit before substitute Peter Vincenti headed in an equaliser two minutes later.

The draw means Chesterfield remain outside the automatic promotion places ahead of Saturday’s trip to Northampton Town.

Paul Cook named an unchanged side from Saturday’s defeat to Southend United, which had seen Chesterfield slip out of the top three in League Two.

It was a cagey start from the hosts, but they almost went ahead in the sixth minute when Roberts crossed from the left for Ollie Banks to direct his header towards goal only to narrowly go wide of Josh Lillis left hand post.

Lillis’s opposing number, Tommy Lee, had to be at his best diving low to his left to keep out Henderson’s glancing header just moments later, as the visitors showed how dangerous they can be on the break.

Banks’s movement had started to cause Dale problems and he had sight of goal after he sprung the offside trap to latch on to Drew Talbot’s long pass forward. The midfielder beat Lillis in a foot race but couldn’t get the ball under control and the chance went begging.

Henderson whipped in a dangerous free kick which almost caught out Lee at his near post but the keeper reacted in time to push the ball away from under his cross bar.

In an end-to-end first half, Richards sliced wide at the back post after Roberts’ deflected cross from the left evaded everyone and seemingly caught the striker by surprise.

The breakthrough finally came when Jay O’Shea took Richards’ knock down in his stride on half way and raced towards the visitors’ penalty area. The ball went loose but fell kindly for Roberts to slot past Lillis for his seventh goal of the season.

Dale were on the front foot straight from the re-start and Henderson came close to an equaliser when he found space in the area from half time Vincenti’s header but fired wide of the angle.

Henderson looked lively but it was the Spireites who managed to extend their lead with an incisive breakaway, which began when Jimmy Ryan released Banks down the right.

Banks drove forward and smacked the post with a powerful drive only for the ball to fall for Nathan Smith, who had his shot cleared off the line, before a goalmouth scramble ensued and Richards was on hand to poke the ball home from inside the six yard box.

That should have been that but Dale were given a lifeline when Richards was sent off for an adjudged handball in the 91st minute. Henderson converted the spot kick high into the net.

And, with virtually the last kick of the game, Vincenti rose to head in an injury time equaliser from Henderson’s corner.