Spireites FT: Hartlepool 1, Chesterfield 2

Sam Hird challenges
Sam Hird challenges

Chesterfield kept up their bid for promotion to League One, with a 2-1 win at Hartlepool.

Just three League Two wins in ten have seen the Proact side slip from being five points ahead of Rochdale to being four behind the now leaders of the pack, with the results of fourth and fifth placed Fleetwood Town and Burton Albion now being the first ones Spireites fans look for. Those two chasers play Spireites in the final two fixtures of what’s becoming a very nervy campaign.

With midfield dynamo Jimmy Ryan missing and one of his potential replacements, Ollie Banks, recovering from an operation on his foot this week, the Chesterfield boss decided to switch formation away from his favoured 4-2-3-1.

He bravely left out League Two Player of the Year Gary Roberts and fellow raider Jay O’Shea, though Dan Gardner’s return was welcomed by all and Nathan Smith’s first start since January came as something of a surprise.

The hosts have lost their last four games, failing to score in three of them, and despite sitting comfortably in 15th spot, they’re only six points ahead of Northampton so are desperate to make mathematical certainties come into play.

Chesterfield started the game at full pelt. Doyle and Gardner got themselves into good positions, Morsy shot wide and keeper Rafferty had to leave his area on three occasions to boot the ball clear as Spireites got the ball forward early.

Gardner’s cross was tipped onto the bar by the keeper and Morsy had an effort blocked for the lively visitors.

Compton shot well over in a rare Pools break but they stunned the visitors on 24 when JAMES picked up a through ball to shoot across Lee from the right of the box to dash Chesterfield’s hopes, very much against the balance of play.

Evatt was carded for a foul on Harewood but seconds later he was instrumental in the equaliser. Gardner’s right wing corner found a combination of Evatt and his central defensive partner, the ball dropped down for COOPER to hammer home from close in on the half hour mark.

Walker didn’t retreat from a free-kick and picked up a yellow ahead of Richards blocking a home corner on the line.

Kearns scuffed a shot in a five on three break for the visitors whose first half showing deserved more than only being level.

Spireites came out of the traps at speed after the break and with 48 on the clock DOYLE received from Gardner to deliver an exquisite chip over Rafferty.

Cook’s side began to dominate possession keeping the ball for long spells and more importantly keeping it well away from Lee.

Gardner succumbed to cramp, Roberts replaced him and Humphreys was soon on for Kearns.

United introduced Poole and Franks for Barmby and Compton.

Doyle had a great chance to wrap up the points after Morsy and Roberts carved open the defence but the Irishman hit wide.

Late on Doyle and sub Gnanduillet, on for Richards, saw Rafferty save well as Spireites bossed the game, managing it with the swagger they showed early on this season.

With results going well elsewhere, Spireites go into their Good Friday home game with Exeter City refreshed and buoyed by this vital win which saw the side return to promotion winning form.

Morsy and Hird were magnificent in the centre, Doyle and Richards worked tirelessly whilst Cooper and Evatt, as ever, were peerless in the heart of the defence.

Cook will now be able to take his place back in the dugout after his two match ban and look forward to four huge games at the end of an eventful campaign.