Gary Caldwell’s reign as Chesterfield manager got off to a solid, if frustrating, start with a goalless draw at home to AFC Wimbledon today.
The Spireites had the better of the first half and did most of the attacking after the break, without ever really cutting the Dons open or making keeper James Shea work overly hard.
With the possession the hosts enjoyed they should really have created more, but there were positives, including a second successive clean sheet and an apparent return to form for Gboly Ariyibi.
The young winger, restored to the side by Caldwell, was Town’s best outlet for most of the afternoon and kept his markers busy throughout.
Caldwell set his men up in a 4-2-3-1 formation and the way they started hinted that it might be a positive start to the new era.
There was an early opportunity thanks to good work from Ariyibi whose cross found Dion Donohue and he slashed an 18-yard effort wide.
Pressing the opposition brought a spell of Town pressure, Wimbledon giving away possession as both Ariyibi and Rai Simons benefitted to threaten down the flanks.
And it was Simons who went down under a challenge in the area to bring loud appeals for a penalty, referee Eddie Ilderton unmoved.
Wimbledon were able to forge an early chance of their own when Donohue gave away the ball on halfway and Tyrone Barnett was able to get to the box where Sam Hird blocked his shot.
Chesterfield came close to a 24th minute opener after a lovely move that saw the ball moved from left to right before Ariyibi teed up Gardner and he swept a sidefoot shot just past the upright.
The visitors should have been ahead when Chesterfield defended a corner poorly and the ball dropped first for Chris Robertson and then Darius Charles, the former unable to connect, the latter skying his effort.
A spell of Dons pressure was broken when Jay O’Shea got hold of the ball in the middle and played a lovely ball through for Ched Evans, the striker forced wide before finding the side netting.
That began a really good period for Town who looked incredibly dangerous when they attacked, Evans blasting wide before Ariyibi had a shot deflected inches past Shea’s right hand post.
Having counted themselves unlucky not to take the lead in the first half, Chesterfield came close again in the initial stages of the second.
Ariyibi played in Evans who, although forced wide, cut the ball back to Jon Nolan whose snapshot was well held by Shea.
But as the second half wore on it simply didn’t resemble the first, Wimbledon getting everyone behind the ball and making it tough for Chesterfield to break them down.
With 20 minutes remaining Town looked short on attacking ideas and Caldwell sent on Reece Mitchell for O’Shea.
The youngster didn’t take long to get into the action, drilling a low shot goalwards that was dealt with comfortably by Shea.
Wimbledon’s goalkeeper had little trouble with an Evans’ glancing header and then Ariyibi skipped between two defenders and played the ball right across the goalmouth as it turned into one of those days for Chesterfield.
They piled on the pressure late on but it was to no avail, the Dons returning home with a share of the spoils, Chesterfield remaining in the relegation zone.
Chesterfield: Fulton, O’Neil, Donohue, Evatt, Hird, Ariyibi, Gardner, Nolan, O’Shea 6 (Mitchell 70), Simons (Dennis 81), Evans. Not used: Allinson, Ebanks-Blake, Martinez, Beesley, Maguire.
AFC Wimbledon: Shea, Fuller, Kelly, Charles, Robertson, Whelpdale, Beere (Bulman 82), Reeves, Egan (Francombe 72), Barnett (Oakley 72), Poleon. Not used: McDonnell, Kaja, Owens, Sibbick.
Yellows: Nolan 28, Hird 77; Charles 66, Francomb 90
Referee: Eddie Ilderton.
Assistants: Anthony Moore, Robert Atkin.
Attendance: 6,379 (363)