MATCH REPORT: Chesterfield FC 1 Bolton Wanderers 0
Chesterfield finally put together the 90 minute performance Danny Wilson has been asking for, in their surprise 1-0 win over promotion hopefuls Bolton.
A wonderful finish from Liam O’Neil midway through the first half was enough to give Town an important home victory, their 4-1-4-1 formation working perfectly to nullify Wanderers’ attacking threat.
Sam Hird’s return to first team action underpinned the performance, while Jay O’Shea and Ched Evans ran themselves into the ground, defending from the front.
Lloyd Allinson’s home debut got off to a solid start, palming Sammy Ameobi’s cross-cum-shot away from danger and then gathering a speculative long range effort from Zach Clough.
Clough came much closer to an early opener when he flicked a right wing cross just past Allinson’s right hand post.
At the other end there were some nice moments for the hosts in the first 20 minutes, Jay O’Shea influential, Gboly Ariyibi and Ched Evans with shots that were wide and blocked respectively.
Having weathered a bit of a storm, without ever looking truly in danger of conceding, Chesterfield broke out of their half and when Ariyibi accelerated to burst into the box, his low cross was curled beautifully into the top corner by Liam O’Neil for a surprise Town lead.
Things could have got even better for the home side had a clever free-kick routine succeeded, O’Shea playing a short ball to Evans, who had peeled away from his markers and saw his shot deflected over the bar.
Wanderers gave their hosts a reminder of the threat they possessed with a chance from next to nothing, an overhit cross recycled for Gary Madine to send a snap volley goalwards, Allinson reacting smartly to save.
Bolton should have been level before the interval, neat interplay on halfway releasing Clough who outpaced Liddle and bore down alone on goal, Allinson making himself big to produce a fantastic, vital stop.
Wanderers were out very early for the second half, but were unable to sieze the initiative, instead having to defend a dangerous Dion Donohue cross that almost found Evans, before Dimaio set up O’Shea for a shot that slid wide.
Chesterfield looked solid in defence in the 15 minute period following the interval, giving the ball away too cheaply when they had it but restricting Bolton to long range potshots.
The pressure was mounting however and when the ball fell to Clough in space at the back post he really should have hit the target but sent the ball soaring into the away fans behind the goal.
Clough made it a hat-trick of missed chances when Gary Liddle went down injured off the ball, the Bolton forward running on into the box but blasting high again.
And when Ameboi too sent an effort well over and then curled a second just past the upright, it looked like it might just not be Bolton’s day.
Ben Alnwick didn’t have a great deal to do all afternoon but in the latter stages had to be alert to Evans’ low free-kick and then a Donohue cross that looked to be creeping in under the bar.
The visitors’ frustration was evident as time ticked away, David Wheater taking a yellow card for a late challenge on the industrious O’Shea, the surprisingly ineffective Josh Vela following him into the book after a petulant trip on Dimaio.
There was always the likliehood of one last chance for Bolton and when it fell to Jay Spearing the visiting skipper must have seen his name in the headlines, but he leaned back as he shot from 12 yards and the ball cleared the bar.
Referee Mark Haywood’s final whistle was greeted with rapturous celebration from relieved, delighted Town fans.
Chesterfield: Allinson, Liddle, Donohue, Evatt, Anderson, Hird, O’Neill, Dimaio, Ariyibi, O’Shea, Evans. Subs: Gardner, Mitchell, Dennis, Simons, Beesley, Morrison, Parkin.
Bolton: Alnwick, A Taylor, Beevers, Wheater, Wilson (Proctor 88), Spearing, Thorpe (C. Taylor 73), Vela, Ameobi, Clough (Anderson 88), Madine. Subs: Turner, Moxey, Osede, Henry.
Goalscorers: O’Neil 27
Referee: Mr Mark Haywood. Assistants: Mr Michael D’aguilar, Mr Wayne Grunnill
Yellows: Evans 90; Taylor 40, Wheater 84, Vela 88