Spireites shine on south coast

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Chesterfield continued their unbeaten start to the League Two season with victory over 10-man Portsmouth at Fratton Park.

Second half substitutes Armand Gnanduillet and Tendayi Darikwa grabbed the goals late on to send the Spireites home happy after a sunny day on the south coast.

In a game lacking much creativity and even less goalmouth action, the decisions of referee Stephen Bratt became the main talking points in an end-to-end match.

The man in the middle ignored two strong claims for a penalty from the hosts, both resulting in veteran striker David Connolly going to ground, during the first 45 minutes.

And, after Mr Bratt dismissed Portsmouth’s protestations for the second, he gave Connolly his marching orders for an off-the-ball incident that left Sam Hird pole-axed face down in the turf.

Chesterfield manager Paul Cook said: “The game swung on a couple of big decisions. Second half we never played well. We never moved the ball quickly enough, the pitch was very dry and we made bad decisions all over the pitch. To come here and win is great credit to the lads and a fantastic result, not a fantastic performance but a fantastic result.”

Connolly, who had found the net four times already this season, and Patrick Agyemang gave the Spireites all kinds of problems early on and his sending off gave the visitors a foothold in the game which they eventually took full advantage of.

It was a very different story at the start of the match when an uncharacteristic error from Hird presented Portsmouth with a two on two attack. Agyemang fed Connolly who twisted and turned Liam Cooper but the central defender recovered to concede a corner just as the veteran forward was about to pull the trigger.

The visitors failed to clear the danger from the resulting flag kick and Agyemang put the ball between Cooper’s legs and fired a shot towards the bottom corner of the net only for Hird’s sliding block to clear the danger.

The Spireites had the ball in the back of the net moments later when Gary Roberts, playing in the hole behind the lone front man, played in Marc Richards who confidently slotted the ball past Sullivan, but the linesman’s flag ruled he had strayed offside.

Jay O’Shea made John Sullivan, in the Pompey goal, work when he dug out a shot that the keeper batted away from inside the area after a flowing move from left to right.

Pompey’s first penalty claim came when Agyemang threaded a ball behind Nathan Smith and into the path of Connelly. The striker went down under the defender’s close attention but both referee and near linesman remained unmoved.

And when Mr Bratt ignored a second shout moments later, when Connolly went to ground in the area, the experienced striker’s apparent charge into the back of Hird was spotted by linesman Michael Webb and he was sent off.

Chesterfield looked to make their man advantage pay immediately when Richards lofted a ball to Ritchie Humphreys 10 yards from Sullivan’s goal, but the ball didn’t settle and East cleared.

There was yet more confusion shortly after the break when Holmes looked to have been tripped in the area. The referee put the whistle to his mouth as though he was about to blow for a foul but instead gave a throw-in, much to the annoyance of 15,000 Pompey supporters who let their frustrations known.

It was going to take something special to break the deadlock and Sonny Bradley almost provided it with a mazy run from half way. The central defender beat a handful of half-hearted tackles before working Lee inside the area.

The Spireites stopper spilled the ball though and, in a scramble with Humphreys and Andy Barcham, the ball went a whisker past the post.

Second half substitute Eoin Doyle shot wide of the mark before he set up Gnanduillet, who was proving a handful, for his second goal in as many matches with minutes to spare.

The Irishman swung in a precise cross from the right that the Ivorian rose unchallenged to power a header home from 10 yards out with Sullivan rooted to the spot.

Gnanduillet then fed fellow substitute Darikwa with a header that the winger slotted into the bottom corner of the net with the aid of a slight deflection to make the points safe for Chesterfield.

Chesterfield (4-4-1-1): Lee 8; Talbot (c) 6, Hird 6, Cooper 7, Smith 6 (Gnanduillet 70, 7); O’Shea 6 (Darikwa 85, 6), Morsy 6, Ryan 6, Humphreys 6; Roberts 7; Richards 6 (Doyle 65, 6)

Subs not used: Chapman, Togwell, Devitt, Edwards

Portsmouth (4-4-2): Sullivan 5; Moutaouakil 6, Devera 6, Bradley 7, East 6 (Craddock 89); Holmes 7 (Wallace 75, 6), Ertl 6, Ferry 7, Barcham 6; Connolly 3, Agyemang 7 (Bird 65, 6)

Subs not used: Smith, N’Gala, Padovani, Butler

Goals: Gnanduillet 88, Darikwa 90

Sending off: Connolly 40

Bookings: O’Shea 55

Referee: Stephen Bratt (West Midlands)

Attendance: 15,999 (957)

Star player: Tommy Lee.