Standen goals gives Chesterfield derby day win over Mansfield Town

A superb goal from Millie Standen on the stroke of half-time secured a 1-0 victory for Chesterfield Ladies away from home at local rivals Mansfield Town Ladies on Sunday afternoon.
Millie Standen celebrates her match-winner. Pic: Michael South.Millie Standen celebrates her match-winner. Pic: Michael South.
Millie Standen celebrates her match-winner. Pic: Michael South.

The match was a very hard-fought and competitive affair at the RH Academy; however, Standen’s 15th goal of the season proved to be the difference between the two sides.

The victory sees the Blues move up one place to fifth position in the East Midlands Women’s Premier Division. With multiple games in hand on every team above them in the league table, Chesterfield Ladies are very much involved in the battle for a top two spot.

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The hosts certainly had opportunities to break the deadlock themselves in the first half. The first big chance of the game arrived after ten minutes played when a Mansfield attacker capitalised on a defensive error which saw her with just Blues goalkeeper Nic Stokes to beat.

However, Stokes pulled off an excellent save to guide the ball around the post and keep the score at 0-0. It was a big opportunity missed that the hosts ultimately paid the price for.

Mansfield’s defence was proving to be a very tough nut to crack.

The first clear-cut chance created by the visitors in the first half fell on the half hour mark. Imogen Fowler linked up well with midfielder Kath Connell to fire a low effort on target which forced the Mansfield goalkeeper into a decent save to concede a corner.

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Mansfield’s second big opportunity of the first half arrived in the 35th minute when a looping shot from the edge of the penalty area narrowly flew over the bar.

Overall, Chesterfield Ladies defended resolutely in the first 45 minutes when having to soak up a lot of pressure at times. In particular, the defence and goalkeeper dealt extremely well with defending set-pieces especially considering the aerial threats that Mansfield possessed.

With the first half seemingly destined to end goalless, Blues captain Millie Standen produced a moment of inspiration in the final minute of stoppage time.

Standen managed to create a small pocket of space with which to attempt an audacious attempt at goal from around 20 yards out. Her effort was struck superbly to beat the Mansfield goalkeeper and find the top corner.

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Chesterfield Ladies competed strongly in the second half and managed to limit Mansfield’s threat to just set pieces. In particular, centre-half Eleanor Abercrombie and full-back Lily Naylor had outstanding performances at the back for the Blues.

With the second half dominated by fierce midfield battles, few clear-cut opportunities were created by either side in the final third.

The best opportunity of the half fell to Blues top goal scorer Imogen Fowler in the 56th minute. Fowler managed to fire an effort on target from an acute angle which was palmed away by the Mansfield goalkeeper.

Mansfield’s main sources of pressure came through set-pieces but, once again, the Blues performed very strongly as a unit to repeatedly clear corners and free-kicks away. In particular, Nic Stokes’s command of her own penalty area really shone.

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The final whistle marked three victories on the bounce for Chesterfield Ladies and a win over a side they failed to beat on two occasions last season.

Over the whole 90 minutes, this was probably Chesterfield’s best defensive performance of the season so far and showed the team’s character and grit to get the job done against tough opponents.

Ultimately, this will be a game remembered for Millie Standen’s exquisite strike to secure three points in a well-matched and fiercely contested East Midlands derby.