Oldham Athletic 5, Chesterfield 2
Chesterfield slumped to the bottom of League One with a very poor performance on a ground they rarely do well on.
Only once in 26 previous league visits have the Spireites won at Boundary Park and within 16 minutes the thought of an away victory had evaporated as Oldham raced into a 3-0 lead.
Robbie Simpson, on loan from Huddersfield Town, was the hosts’ star, grabbing his first ever league hat-trick.
Kieran Lee, the only man in the Oldham line-up that John Sheridan had signed in his spell there, opened the scoring and veteran Shefki Kuqi headed in the Latics’ fifth.
Craig Westcarr and Leon Clarke were on target for Chesterfield but neither goal was anything other than a slight inconvenience for the rampant home side who’ll not have an easier game this season.
Spireites’ travails began ahead of kick-off when the team sheet contained the names of six loan players, the regulations say a maximum of five can be selected.
As a result, Lee Johnson was withdrawn from the bench and Chesterfield went into the key game short-handed.
The team didn’t feature Jordan Bowery despite his five goals in the last three games, and former Oldham man Danny Whitaker was also on the bench.
In came borrowed winger Tope Obadeyi and left back Nathan Smith while Dwayne Mattis switched from defence to midfield.
The central defensive partnership of Jonathan Grounds and Neal Trotman, the latter formally of Oldham, was the seventh different pairing selected by the manager this season.
From the off, Chesterfield’s defensive properties looked frail.
Having failed to keep a clean sheet since Tommy Lee’s injury and leaked half a dozen goals in the previous 180 minutes, the inadequacy of the rearguard was clear for all to see.
Following a clear handball by Kuqi, the ball dropped to Mattis.
The referee correctly indicated ‘advantage’ but Mattis, in looking to play in Alex Mendy, underhit the ball and Lee intercepted.
He took it a few yards forward before hitting home from 25 yards with just three minutes played.
With 12 minutes on the clock, Paul Black and Luca Scapuzzi got the better of Drew Talbot and Obadeyi, Black cut the ball back and Simpson converted his first.
Before you could draw your breath, it was three.
After a couple of fouls close to the edge of the penalty area, Simpson lifted the ball over the wall and into the top corner to effectively end the contest.
It was then a question of ‘how many’ rather than ‘who’ll win’ although the next goal did go the way of the Spireites.
Talbot crossed in and, on the half hour mark, Westcarr glanced a header home.
The miniscule thought of a comeback lasted just three minutes before another disastrous concession.
Grounds miscontrolled facing his own goal and his attempted back pass to Ole Soderberg was far too short.
Simpson sniffed glory and raced towards the ball. The keeper came out and totally misjudged his attempted tackle allowing Simpson to gather the loose ball and roll home into the unguarded net, a really dreadful goal to let in.
Oldham extended their lead 12 minutes after the restart.
Smith fouled Scapuzzi ten yards into Chesterfield’s half and Simpson played the free-kick right on to Kuqi’s head for his 12th goal in 16 games.
Chesterfield’s star performers, by miles, were the 350 fans who continued their support despite the woeful show from their heroes and the 87th minute goal from Clarke, following an Obadeyi pass, was scant reward for their sustained show passion, something clearly lacking on the pitch.
The Spireites now need to extend their run of home victories over Sheffield United stretching back 60 years.
The last time the Blades won in town ended in a relegation season for Chesterfield.
Oldham: Cisak, Lee, Diamond, M’Voto, Black, Taylor, Wesolowski, Furman (Adeyemi 71), Scapuzzi (Morais 63), Simpson (Smith 78), Kuqi 6. Subs (not used): Gerrard, Clarke.
Chesterfield: Soderberg, Talbot, Trotman, Grounds, Smith, Mendy, Mattis, Allott (Bowery 51), Obadeyi, Clarke, Westcarr. Subs (not used): Fleming, Whitaker, Morgan.
Bookings: Allott, Mendy (Chesterfield), Wesolowski (Oldham).
Referee: Rob Lewis (Shropshire).
Attendance: 3,699 (350 from Chesterfield).