Swindon 1 Chesterfield 0
Chesterfield remain in the relegation battle after a lack-lustre show at Swindon Town, who themselves secured a League One position next season thanks to a 77th minute winner.
The only goal of the crucial match came after Drew Talbot, rather than concede a corner, back-heeled the ball off the line close to the corner flag, but the exercise soon backfired.
The hosts picked up possession from the flick and subsequently carved out the chance. Stringing together some neat passes down the right, Yaser Kasim stroked the ball home, left footed, from 16 yards after a neat one-two with QPR loanee Michael Doughty.
It was Kasim’s first Robins’ goal in 18 months, since he scored in Swindon’s 3-0 win at the Proact last season, his only strike since then being for Iraq, also a 77th minute winner, in a 1-0 Asian Cup triumph over Jordan.
Further bad news for Chesterfield manager Danny Wilson came in the shape of a knee injury for leading scorer Lee Novak and a one- match ban for defender Charlie Raglan, who picked up a second yellow late on for a needless foul on Louis Thompson.
The extent of Birmingham loanee Novak’s injury wasn’t known immediately after the match, but it could well end his season with just two games remaining.
Ahead of Novak’s withdrawal, Chesterfield created their best two chances of the game; Jay O’Shea forced a decent top-over save from Jake Kean and the keeper’s foot kept out a Novak near post flick
It was O’Shea that was given the striker’s role following Novak’s departure, Jamal Campbell-Ryce came on.
Wilson explained his rationale for playing without a recognised attacker, stating: “It looked like the best way through them was down the flanks, so that’s why I brought Jamal on. Jay moved into attack, he’s as technically gifted a player as I’ve ever worked with and can cause problems anywhere on the park.”
Following the 25th minute change, Spireites struggled to create and Swindon gradually began to turn up the pressure, but their patient passing build up rarely led to swathes of final third attacking heads of steam, though Wilson, a former Robins boss, was complimentary of their style.
He said: “If they want to play a two-yard pass, they do it. It’s simple, they keep the ball and look for the opening. We were always looking to play the Olympic gold medal- winning pass and we gave up possession far too easily and far too often.”
Ahead of the goal Doughty had hammered the post and forced Tommy Lee to make a fine save whilst Jonathan Obika has blasted over from inside the six after Lee had been unable to hold yet another Doughty effort.
For Chesterfield to guarantee League One survival in the penultimate match of the season next weekend, at home to Wilson’s first League club as a player, Bury, the equation is simple. Match what Blackpool do in their home match with Champions-elect Wigan Athletic, Wilson’s home town, and safety is assured.
Swindon: Kean, Barry, Branco, N.Thompson, Turnbull, Brophy, Kasim, L.Thompson, Doughty, Obika, Ajose. Subs (not used): Henry, Sendles-White, Rodgers, Marshall, Iandolo, Hylton, Cooke.
Goal: Kasim 77
Chesterfield: Lee, Raglan, Hird, Anderson, Talbot, Herd (Slew 66), Liddle, Banks, O’Shea, Ariyibi, Novak (Campbell-Ryce 25). Subs (not used): Chapman, Ebanks-Blake, Dimaio, Gardner, Humphreys.
Referee: Trevor Kettle (Rutland)
Bookings: Herd, Raglan (Chesterfield)
Sent-Off: Raglan (Chesterfield) Two yellows, 87 mins
Attendance: 7105 (337 from Chesterfield).