Match report: Chesterfield 1-1 Doncaster Rovers
Chesterfield inched closer to League One safety after withstanding a second half onslaught from a desperate Doncaster Rovers side and holding out for a 1-1 draw.
Gboly Ariyibi’s first half equaliser cancelled out Tommy Rowe’s early opener and moved the Spireites onto 50 points, five points clear of the drop zone.
The result, you suspect, might not be good enough for Rovers, who are five points adrift of safety.
Despite threatening two or three changes, Danny Wilson made just one, Connor Dimaio replaced by Jamal Campbell-Ryce.
But while the starting line-up was slightly different, the start of the game was alarmingly similar to Saturday’s - Chesterfield conceding from a corner early on.
Gary McSheffrey won a corner on the right, took it and sent the ballto the back post where Tommy Rowe stole in unmarked to sweep the ball past Tommy Lee for a sixth minute opener.
Campbell-Ryce got his first real involvement two minutes later, whipping in a cross that Lee Novak could only glance across the six-yard box.
There was a big let off for the hosts, who hadn’t settled into the game at all in the opening quarter of an hour, when Richard Chaplow got the wrong side of Drew Talbot and slid an inviting ball across the area that no one got near.
A minute later, almost out of nothing, Chesterfield were level.
Jay O’Shea’s initial effort was parried away by Remi Matthews, and Gboly Ariyibi showed real composure to steer home, off the inside of the post from a difficult angle.
The goal seemed to calm the nerves of the hosts, who had a promising couple of minutes, winning a corner that was cleared before Ollie Banks dinked a shot over Matthews’ bar.
A period of Doncaster possession was broken up by a great run from Ariyibi, who looked like he could go no where until he cut between two defenders and reached the box, only to pass it straight to the opposition.
Chesterfield had another let off with just over half an hour gone, McSheffrey dribbling towards the near post and going to ground under the challenge of Talbot, referee Jeremy Simpson unmoved by the penalty appeals.
Ariyibi’s influence was growing every time he ran at the Rovers’ defence and so it probably surprised everyone in the ground when he threatened to dribble and instead played a perfect ball into the feet of O’Shea, who tried to feed Lee Novak on the penalty spot but saw his pass cut out.
Before the half was over the American got himself into two great positions, running in at the back post and heading over from a corner, and then attempting an overhead flick, Matthews alert to it and gathering.
Rovers came even closer to taking the lead however, Andy Williams, all alone, rising in the box and inexplicably nodding wide of the post with the net gaping - Darren Ferguson a picture of disbelief on the touchline.
The second half began with Chesterfield under intense pressure, and lucky not to be behind.
Three home players went up for the same header eight yards out, the ball dropped kindly for Doncaster but there were enough bodies flying in to stop two attempted shots, and when James Coppinger did eventually rifle home, the whistle had already gone for a foul on Banks.
Misplaced passes and a Doncaster side in a hurry to win the ball put Chesterfield under pressure for most of the opening quarter of the half, Rovers not creating anything of note however, save a dangerous pass cut out by Raglan.
A rare foray upfield from the home side had the visitors worried briefly, Gary Liddle winning a free-kick 25 yards out that O’Shea sent curling over the bar.
Chesterfield were unable to get Ariyibi into the game at all, in fact it took 26 minutes of the second half before he made a meaningful contribution, swapping wings and winning a free-kick from Cedric Evina - the hosts wasting the set-piece.
Rovers were straight back on the attack and had it not been for an impeccably timed Talbot challenge, Coppinger would have been clean through on goal.
The longer it went on the more nervy it got, and the quality - which wasn’t sparkling - declined further.
Rovers were firmly on top and looked the more likely to get a winner, Raglan and Talbot both making important challenges as the game entered its final 10 minutes.
There were two chances for Ferguson’s men in stoppage time, but McSheffrey couldn’t keep a 20-yard free-kick down and Nathan Tyson headed wide from the last cross of the game.
The result moved Chesterfield onto 50 points with three remaining and although there were a few boos yet again, the result was much more satisfactory for the hosts than the visitors.
Chesterfield: Lee, Raglan, Talbot, Hird, Anderson, Ariyibi, Liddle, Banks, O’Shea (Herd 90), Novak, Campbell-Ryce (Ebanks-Blake 74). Subs: Dimaio, Donohue, Chapman, Simons, Slew.
Doncaster: Matthews, Alcock, Butler, Evina, Lund, McCullough, Rowe, Chaplow (Calder 82), Coppinger, Williams (Tyson 82), McSheffrey. Subs: Stuckmann, Taylor-Sinclair, Mandeville, Stewart, Middleton.
Referee: Jeremy Simpson. Assistants: David Richardson, Joe Hull.
Goalscorers: Ariyibi 18; Rowe 6
Yellows: Novak 88; Chaplow 81, Lund 88
Attendance: 6,461 (905)