On Saturday 28th September 2013, I went to the Proact Stadium to watch Chesterfield play local rivals Mansfield Town in League 2.
It was derby day at the Proact Stadium as Chesterfield took on Mansfield Town. This was a particularly big game for the two sets of supporters as these two bitter rivals had not contested a match since 8th November 2008 – when Chesterfield won 3-1 in an FA Cup tie at Saltergate – so there were major bragging rights to be earned this afternoon. For me personally, it was an exciting day as it was the first time I had seen this local derby in a league match, although I did attend the previous meeting in the cup just under five years ago.
Local rivalries aside, this was an important game as both teams were flying high in League 2. The Spireites sat four points clear at the top of the table, still unbeaten and hoping to keep up a 100% home record this afternoon with a victory. The Stags returned to the football league after four seasons in the non-league and they had made an excellent start to life back in the fourth tier. Unbeaten in seven and sitting in 5th position, Mansfield were certainly going to be tough opposition for the high flying Spireites.
The game was a sellout with over 10,000 supporters inside the stadium which created fantastic atmosphere as the 1 o’clock kick off approached. The two managers named the same starting eleven’s from their last match and as the players made their way on to the field they were greeted with huge cheers from the passionate fans.
It was Chesterfield who started the game strongest, midfielder Jimmy Ryan having the games first shot on target as his goal-bound effort was tipped wide by Stags goalkeeper Alan Marriott. And the stopper was quickly forced in to action again when Eoin Doyle’s cross took a large deflection which meant Marriott had to make a save to keep the game scoreless.
Doyle was through on goal on around the half hour mark when Gary Roberts’ pass cut through the defence. However, the Irishman could only fire straight at the goalkeeper and he comfortably blocked the effort, much to the frustration of many of the home supporters who felt the forward should have done better with the opportunity.
And the Spireites were punished for their wastefulness when Mansfield took the lead in the 37th minute. Calvin Andrew jumped highest to get on the end of a corner and powerfully head the ball home. The 6ft 2 striker then sprinted the length of the field to celebrate the opening goal of this hotly contested derby with the overjoyed away supporters.
Ben Hutchinson very nearly doubled the Stags’ advantage almost immediately when his strike hit the post. The woodwork again denied a goal before the break when Sam Morsy got on the end of Roberts’ and found the post with his header at the opposite end.
A quiet start to the second period led to Chesterfield boss Paul Cook making two changes, Armand Gnanduillet and Gary McSheffrey replacing Tendayi Darikwa and Jay O’Shea, switching to a 4-4-2 formation with Ivorian Gnanduillet joining Doyle up front.
McSheffrey was quickly involved when he set up Roberts inside the box, who fired a shot at the keepers legs. There was then a penalty shout when Morsy went down as he attempted to get to the rebound. However, the appeals were waved away and the referee instead gave the Chesterfield man a yellow card for diving.
The Spireites continued to pile on the pressure. Marriott spilled Gnanduillet’s low driven shot and Doyle picked up the loose ball, lifting it over the keeper but Humphreys could only fire well over from close range.
The home side became more and more frustrated as they struggled to break down the solid Mansfield back line. Morsy hit a hopeful shot into the legs of a Mansfield defender, but the deflected ball felt straight to the feet of Doyle right in front of goal. But the forward could only fire straight at the goalkeeper once again and it remained 0-1.
Six minutes of stoppage time were greeted with a huge roar from the Chesterfield fans, but the team continued to struggle as they looked for a way through. Gary Roberts let his frustrations boil over as he received a straight card for violent conduct in the final moments which rounded off a miserable afternoon for the Spireites.
The full time whistle signalled the end of Chesterfield’s unbeaten run. Despite dominating much of the play, the Spireites had struggled against Mansfield’s impressively solid defending and a lack of clinical finishing when the chances did come had proved costly.
Mansfield moved up to third place in the league 2 table after the third consecutive victory. In the end, the defeat didn’t prove too costly for the Spireites as defeat for Fleetwood later in the day meant they remained four points clear at the top of the table. However, defeat in the local derby is always a major blow for any supporters and Mansfield headed home with not only the 3 points, but the valuable bragging rights.
Chesterfield 0-1 Mansfield Town
Lee, Hird, Cooper, Humphreys, Talbot (Devitt ’87), Morsy, Darikwa (Gnanduillet ’55), O’Shea (McSheffrey ’55), Roberts (RC), Ryan, Doyle
Marriott, Sutton, Dempster, Tafazolli, Howell, Jennings, Beevers, Hutchinson (Meikle ’63), McGuire (Daniel ’78), Clucas (Rhead ’81), Andrew