Chesterfield give survival hopes a boost after beating Notts County
A season's best performance handed Chesterfield a hugely significant three points at home to promotion chasing Notts County.
The 3-1 scoreline won’t reflect the scale of the drama and the late nerves, but it was a fair reflection of Town’s display.
They took a 2-0 lead into the break thanks to goals from Sid Nelson and Zavon Hines and it could have been more comfortable.
A late Dan Jones strike gave Notts a sniff of what would have been an undeserved share of the spoils, before Kristian Dennis converted a stoppage time penalty and give Jack Lester’s side a big boost in their relegation dog fight.
The weekend’s results leave second-bottom Chesterfield three points behind Grimsby, with two games in hand on the Mariners.
Chesterfield were on the front foot from the off, keeping possession almost exclusively in the Notts half for the first five minutes, without causing too many problems.
Notts’ first foray came from a free-kick, sent long into the Town box by keeper Adam Collin and headed goalwards by Shaun Brisley, Aaron Ramsdale forced to tip over his bar.
The Spireites looked bright early on, Louis Reed playing a couple of clever balls into good areas and Andy Kellett looking to get involved both in open play and from set-pieces.
It was the on-loan Wigan man’s corner that brought a deserved opener for Town.
He swung in a dangerous ball to the near post, Drew Talbot helped it on and Sid Nelson found the net for his first goal as a Spireite.
The goal seemed to settle Chesterfield down even more, Reed and Kellett pulling the strings in both halves and looking to play in Brown, Kristian Dennis and Zavon Hines.
Towards the end of the half the two sides traded headed chances, Kellett’s wonderful ball finding Dennis who headed straight at Collin, Jon Stead crossing for Elliott Hewitt at the other end, the unmarked midfielder heading wide.
Six minutes before the break, Town were in dreamland.
Hines made a great tackle in the Notts area which allowed Dennis to have a shot, a defender’s block only succeeding in deflecting the ball into the path of Hines, who fired home from 12 yards.
The winger could have put the game to bed before half-time, teasing Matt Tootle before turning away to leave the defender off balance and hammer a shot at goal that rose just over the top.
Just a minute into the second half Town went close again, Talbot’s ball into the box finding its way to Hines who swivelled and shot into the side netting.
Notts had another let off a minute later, Hines’ corner met by Alex Whitmore who could only head wide from 12 yards.
When Notts next got a chance it wasn’t a surprise that a set-piece was involved, Ramsdale unable to get much purchase on a punch and finding himself lobbed by Terry Hawkridge, but his defence mopped up the danger.
The threat posed by the Magpies’ experienced frontmen was clear when Stead got goalside, but Whitmore recovered to pressure the striker who duly shot high and wide.
Having weathered Notts’ best spell of pressure in the game, Chesterfield put the visitors under the cosh for a sustained spell but bar a Kellett shot that curled wide of the left hand post, chances were at a premium.
Notts ensured a nervy finish when ex Spireite Dan Jones curled a free-kick inside the far post from wide on the right.
The response to the goal was excellent from Town, however, Talbot finding Dennis who swept the ball to Kellett and he could only steer wide.
Seconds later Kellett’s cross was headed at goal by Brown and Collin produced a magnificent save.
And a quick free-kick caught Notts napping to put Jak McCourt in at the back post, but he miscontrolled and could only fire into the side netting.
Nine minutes of injury time only heightened the tension, until a defensive error let Kellett go clean through, only to be felled in the area.
Dennis stepped up to secure a vital three points and send the Proact into raptures.
Chesterfield: Ramsdale, Barry, Talbot, Whitmore, Nelson, Reed, Weir (McCourt 84), Hines (Smith 90), Kellett, Brown, Dennis. Subs: Anyon, O’Grady, Dodds, Maguire, Kay.
Notts County: Collin; Tootle, Duffy, Brisley, Dickinson (Jones 80); Hawkridge (Alessandra 54), Hewitt, Noble (Virtue 72), Grant; Stead, Ameobi. Subs: Fitzsimons, Jones, Husin, Smith, Forte.
Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge.
Assistants: Steven Plane, Paul Newhouse.
Goalscorers: Nelson 16, Hines 39, Dennis 90; Jones 85
Yellows: Whitmore 82; Stead 63
Attendance: 6,005 (1,411 away)