Four big talking points from Chesterfield's crucial win against Dagenham and Redbridge on emotional day as fans return
Chesterfield will go into the final day of the season very much in the play-off mix after a late victory against Dagenham and Redbridge as fans returned to the Technique Stadium for the first time in more than a year.
Two goals from Danny Rowe, including a penalty on 86 minutes, secured a vital comeback win for the Spireites against the Daggers who finished the match with 10 men.
It was an emotional day on and off the pitch but the Town faithful went home happy in the end after 14 months away.
Results elsewhere did not go the Blues’ way as play-off rivals Bromley and Eastleigh scored injury-time winners, but Chesterfield at least did their job.
After 445 days, Chesterfield fans were back.
The official attendance was 2,950 but it felt more like 20,000 at times.
Before the game the names and photos of the loved ones we have lost in the last year were shown on the big screen, a reminder of why the day was about much more than getting three points.
Boss Jame Rowe revved up the crowd ahead of kick-off when he was introduced to the fans for the first time despite this being his 34th match in charge.
He also addressed the crowd at full-time following a lap of appreciation which brought about huge cheers.
There was a nice moment for the injured Akwasi Asante when he came out onto the pitch at half-time to a great reception. You can only imagine how much he would have loved to have been playing out there.
The win was much-needed but with fans returning, the warm welcome that the community trust received from the terraces, the backing the manager and the players got, the tributes and the tears, the day was bigger than any victory.
It was an emotional afternoon and one that will have given a lot of people hope, not just that the future of Chesterfield Football Club is looking very bright, but in our everyday lives as well.
After eight months of the season there are still two play-off places up for grabs and it will now go down to the final day.
The Spireites are right in the mix and they will battle it out with Wrexham, Bromley, Eastleigh and Halifax, who they face at The Shay on Saturday in what is sure to test everyone’s nerves!
As it stands, Chesterfield are seventh but that could change in midweek if Eastleigh win their game in hand away at Altrincham on Tuesday night. Anything less than a Spitfires victory will mean Rowe’s men have their fate in their own hands.
On Saturday fellow rivals Bromley (8th) host Notts County, who have already secured a top seven spot but will need a win to guarantee finishing fifth, while Eastleigh (9th) travel to Solihull Moors and Wrexham (6th) go to Dagenham who now have nothing to play for.
It is all set up for a rollercoaster of a day!
This was a breathtaking game of football at times and it was fitting that fans were there to witness it.
With the boisterous home faithful making a racket, the Spireites came out of the blocks flying in the first 20-25 minutes and should have taken the lead with Will Evans, Joel Taylor and George Carline all going close.
Having offered little in the first half an hour, the visitors scored against the run of play when the pacy and tricky Liam Gordon found the net.
The Daggers then had the momentum and Gordon continued to give George Carline the run around before Joseph Jones clipped the post with a well struck shot from distance.
The hosts got back level when Jack Clarke pinched possession and Laurence Maguire picked out Danny Rowe with a top assist to slot the ball home.
After the break it was one-way traffic with Chesterfield camped in the Daggers’ half. Big chances came for Curtis Weston and Taylor and you wondered if it was going to be one of those days again before Rowe kept his nerve to score from the spot with four minutes of normal time remaining.
Overall it was a deserved win for Town. Dagenham, who were missing key man Angelo Balanta, had their moments in the first-half but for large chunks, particularly in the first 20 minutes and most of the second 45, Chesterfield were the better side. The result ended the slim hopes of the Daggers making the play-offs.
Did the Spireites get away with a refereeing blunder here? If so, it is about time they got a favourable decision.
Dagenham had what looked like a strong shout for a penalty rejected with the score level at 1-1 with 15 minutes remaining. Myles Weston went down under a challenge from goalkeeper James Montgomery and I think most people, including myself, expected it to be given. Montgomery might have just stopped short of fully clattering into him but you have definitely seen them given. Visiting manager Daryl McMahon said it was a ‘stonewall’ penalty.
Referee Adam Herczeg might have got that one wrong but for me he got the other big two calls correct.
Soon after the penalty appeal, the Daggers were soon reduced to 10 men when Jones was shown his second yellow card for pulling the shirt of Joe Rowley.
And with the clock ticking down, Taylor burst forward and his cross hit the hand of Callum Reynolds and Herczeg pointed to the spot. Reynolds slid in but his arm was up and we all know you can’t do that these days.
After a long delay following some delaying tactics by Dagenham and a bit of a scuffle, Rowe stayed ice-cool to tuck it away.
(3-4-2-1): Montgomery; Evans, Gunning, Maguire; Carline, Weston (McCourt, 65), Oyeleke, Taylor; Mandeville (Whelan, 87), Clarke (Rowley, 58); Rowe. Unused subs: Tyson, Yussuf.