Spireites match report: Chesterfield 0 Gillingham 1

A second half header from Cody McDonald gave away-specialists Gillingham a 1-0 win over Chesterfield.

Saturday, 23rd February 2013, 4:25 pm

The Spireites put in plenty of effort but couldn’t prevent the League Two leaders from recording their 11th win on the road this season.

Jack Lester had a late goal ruled out for offside as Paul Cook’s men sank to their second defeat in a row.

Craig Clay and Conor Townsend came back into the side, while Richard Brindley was handed his first start for the club as Chesterfield made three changes to his line-up that lost to Rotherham.

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New signings Jordan Clark and Alex Henshall, who both signed for the club on Friday, had to settle for places on the bench.

Martin Allen’s Gills boast the best away record in the Football League with 10 wins on the road, though were missing top scorer Danny Kedwell.

The Spireites started the game looking like they had a point to prove following last week’s disappointment.

Though it was the visitors who had the game’s first meaningful effort through Chris Whelpdale that Tommy Lee was equal to, diving low to his right.

McDonald then beat the Chesterfield defence for pace before scuffing a shot towards goal that a combination of Sam Togwell and Lee put behind for a corner.

Richards blasted one over the bar from 20 yards before Neal Trotman strode forward and unleashed a powerful drive that never looked like troubling Stuart Nelson in the Gills goal.

Jay O’Shea saw his 25-yard effort sail high and wide and Drew Talbot, playing in a more advanced role, curled one beyond the far post.

The home side’s frustration showed towards the end of a scrappy first half when both Liam Cooper and Jay O’Shea were cautioned needlessly.

And their misery was compounded shortly after the half time interval when McDonald broke free from his marker and glanced a header past Lee from six yards to give Gillingham the lead.

Cook responded by making a double switch which saw Jack Lester and Henshall replace O’Shea and Craig Clay.

And the winger, on loan from Manchester City, made an immediate impact with a dangerous cross that Trotman headed towards goal only for Whelpdale to clear off the line.

The Spireites had a penalty claim turned down on the hour when Adam Barrett appeared to be climbing over the back of Richards.

Liam Cooper tried his luck from a long way out before Leon Legge made a crucial last-ditched block to prevent Lester from equalising after the striker had turned well inside the penalty area.

Legge then saw his header cleared from danger by Togwell and Deon Burton had a shot blocked as the Gills looked to kill the game.

Chesterfield then had a golden opportunity to level when Richards knocked the ball down for Lester to pounce, only for the striker to scuff his shot which was easily picked up by Nelson.

Jordan Clark also made his debut in place of Trotman as the Spireites threw everything at the Gills.

Lester thought he’d rescued a point for Chesterfield only for the linesman’s flag to cut short the host’s celebrations.

Spireites (4-3-3): Lee, Brindley, Trotman (Clark 80), Cooper (c), Smith, Togwell, Clay (Lester 52), Townsend, O’Shea (Henshall 52), Talbot, Richards

Subs not used: Barrington, Clark, Randall, Whitaker, Hazel

Gillingham (4-5-1): Nelson, Fish, Martin, Legge, Barrett, Whelpdale, Gregory, Robinson, Lee, McDonald, Weston

Subs not used: Forecast, Davies, Richardson, Dack, Williams, Birchall, Burton

Referee: Robert Madley

Attendance: 5,235