Spireites grit earns draw at Sky Blues

Coventry vs Chesterfield - Paul cook keeping his players calm - Pic By James Williamson
Coventry vs Chesterfield - Paul cook keeping his players calm - Pic By James Williamson

Spireites made their first ever trip to the Ricoh Arena for a first meeting with Coventry City since 1961 and they earned a hard working goalless draw.

Paul Cook, a former Premier League star for the Sky Blues, selected the same starting 11 that gave Chesterfield a three goal lead in the ultimate 3-2 win over Peterborough United on Boxing Day.

The Sky Blues were without Adam Barton and James Maddison, both red carded in the Boxing Day defeat at Doncaster Rovers, a result that left them with just one win in five in league and cup. They featured on-loan Owls man Gary Madine who had a short spell at Saltergate back in 2010 whilst another former Hillsborough front man, Marcus Tudgay, was on the bench.

The pitch, now shared with Wasps Rugby Union Club, featured grass a little longer than Cook would have liked, but it had seen no snow in the previous 48 hours.

Tommy Lee was called into early action to boot away a Simeon Jackson acute angled effort and he parried a smart Frank Nouble shot away whilst defender Aaron Martin flicked a shot just wide from a Jim O’Brien free kick. John Fleck drilled a low 25 yarder just wide after Lee punched away a corner as Spireites struggled to build any attacking head of steam.

Gary Roberts got a right footed shot on target which provided no issue for Ryan Allsop but it did come in the midst of the visitors’ first solid moments of attacking play. Eoin Doyle saw Allsop save after Roberts intercepted a Martin pass, on this occasion a return ball to Roberts looked the best option for the 21 goal striker.

Referee Handley awarded the hosts a penalty when Sam Hird upended Nouble. The Chesterfield man was convinced the challenge was outside the box and the ref was persuaded to speak to his assistant Mr Thompson who agreed with Hird; O’Brien’s free-kick was blocked.

Roberts hit a 25 yard free-kick just over after Armand Gnanduillet was fouled, he was booked for his reaction to Martin’s foul, the City man also was shown a card for the challenge.

Dan Jones replaced Gnanduillet at the break and Doyle went as a lone striker. Madine and Jackson went close after the restart and Doyle tried to flick a Romy Boco ball in but hit air in a rare Spireites attack. Jackson hit just over and Jones drove in an angled drive that deflected for a corner, Boco half volleyed just wide from the second phase. Charlie Raglan came to Spireites’ rescue twice, clearing a ball off the line from a scramble and then nicking it off Madine’s toes as he bore down on goal.

Boco hit high and wide after a Roberts burst through as the game entered the final phase. Madine hammered a 25 yard free-kick against the post on 88 as City ended the stronger but they were unable to breach the hardworking Chesterfield back line.

Coventry (4-3-3): Allsop 6, Pennington 8, Webster 6, Martin 6, Haynes 7, Fleck 7, O’Brien 7, Thomas 6, Nouble 7, Jackson 7, Madine 6. Subs (not used): Burge, Willis, Tudgay, Pugh, Finch, Thomas, Swanson.

Chesterfield (4-4-2): Lee 6; Darikwa 7, Evatt 6, Raglan 8, Clucas 7; Boco 7 (O’Shea 78), Humphreys 6, Hird 7 (Banks 85), Roberts 6; Gnanduillet 6 (Jones 46, 6), Doyle 6. Subs (not used): Wright, Talbot, Ariyibi, Gardner.

Bookings: Gnanduillet, Boco (Chesterfield), Jackson, Martin, Fleck (Coventry).

referee: Darren Handley (Bolton).

attendance: 10,166 (1,640 away).