MATCH REPORT: Birthday boy Weir wins it late to lift Spireites out the drop zone
Birthday boy Robbie Weir netted a dramatic late winner to lift Chesterfield off the bottom of League Two and out the drop zone.
The 2-1 victory over visitors Barnet, the side directly above them at the start of the day, stretched the Spireites’ unbeaten run to six games in league action.
It wasn’t the prettiest of games, nor the best of performances since Jack Lester took over at the Proact, but judging by the scenes at full-time, it was the result that meant the most in his short tenure so far.
The first five minutes were cagey and lacking in entertainment but the hosts were then the first to create, wide players linking up.
Joe Rowley came in off the right flank, fed Jerome Binnom-Williams and then raced into the box to head the left-back’s cross over the top.
Barnet took the lead with their first attack of the game, John Akinde allowed to drift away from his markers and gather a ball over the top from the left, before slamming past Cameron Dawson in goal.
The Spireites came close to levelling with a Jak McCourt drive from distance, but stopper Jamie Stephens got down well to parry the shot.
An even better chance to restore parity came after a wonderful flowing move started by Ian Evatt, involving Binnom-Williams and Jak McCourt, before Andy Kellett dinked the ball to the back post where Rowley controlled and hammered high over the bar from eight yards.
Visiting defenders did well to block a Kristian Dennis shot and then get in the way of Binnom-Williams’ effort, before McCourt sent another shot past the post.
Kellett’s afternoon came to an early end shortly after the half hour mark due to injury, Matt Briggs taking his place. The substitute should have hit the target when Dennis found him with a pull back from the byline, but again Barnet got a man in the way of the shot.
The home side began to grow frustrated, the fluidity and sharpness of their recent football not apparent.
The visitors had their first warning over time-wasting in the first half and after the break every dead ball seemed to take an eternity.
Another source of frustration for Jack Lester was the apparent lack of urgency in the play of Briggs, the substitute himself substituted after just 14 minutes of the second half - Chris O’Grady on in his place.
The Spireites finally fashioned a second half chance with just over an hour gone, a free-kick from the corner flag making it all the way across to McCourt whose snapshot was goalbound until a defender got in the way.
But O’Grady got them back in it by out-muscling a defender to win back possession and whipping in a dangerous cross that Charlie Clough could only deflect up and over his own keeper to make it 1-1.
The goal lifted Town who were unlucky not to take the lead when Louis Reed’s shot across goal missed by inches.
Barnet gave their hosts a reminder that they were still in a game when Simeon Akinola’s wicked cross was deflected over his own bar by Sam Hird, and when Dawson failed to get any purchase on his punch from the corner, Shaquile Coulthirst skied the chance.
As the game headed into stoppage time Dennis had a sniff of a chance to win it, meeting McCourt’s low cross and trying to hook home only to be thwarted by Stephens.
But a minute later centre-half Ian Evatt played a delightful through-ball for Robbie Weir and he calmly slotted in the winner.
Barnet poured forward in search of an equaliser but were unable to create a chance and the Proact erupted at the full-time whistle, celebrating a deserved three points.
CHESTERFIELD: Dawson, Barry (Wiseman 74), Binnom-Williams, Evatt, Hird; Rowley, Kellett (Briggs 31) (O’Grady 59), Weir, McCourt, Reed; Dennis. Subs: Parkin, Dimaio, O’Grady, De Girolamo, Mitchell.
BARNET: Stephens, H. Taylor (Fonguck 58), Blackman, Clough, Santos; Vilhete (Coulthirst 61), Campbell-Ryce, J. Taylor, Watson, Sweeney (Akinola 69); Akinde. Subs: Ross, Nelson, Coulthirst, Tutonda, Nicholls.
GOALCORERS: own goal, Weir 90; Akinde 11.
YELLOWS: Weir 37, Reed 55, Evatt 77; Fonguck 62.
ATTENDANCE: 5,272 (126 away).
REFEREE: Mr John Busy. Assistants: Geoffrey Liddle, Iain Siddall.