On Saturday 15th September 2012 I visited the Proact Stadium to watch Chesterfield win their first league game of the season against Wycombe Wanderers.
Chesterfield and Wycombe’s paths continually seem to cross in recent seasons. In 2011, when Chesterfield lifted the League 2 trophy, the Chairboys also earned promotion by finishing 3rd. Wanderers then followed the Spireites back down to League 2 after relegation from the third tier last season. That’s not to say it’s bad thing, not for Chesterfield anyway! In the last 4 league meetings between the two teams, the Spireites have won 3, including 4-1 and 4-0 thumpings at the new stadium.
We were hoping for a similar scoreline again today after a very average start to the season. Five league games in, the Spireites had yet to pick up a victory and the last gasp equaliser for York City last Saturday meant it was 4 consecutive draws. The Chairboys hadn’t had it much better though as they returned to the bottom division with just a single win and 3 defeats in their opening 5 matches.
It was a lovely day in Chesterfield with the sun blazing over the stadium, on which the new ‘Proact Stadium’ signs had finally been put up to replace the old ‘B2Net’ ones. I have to say I am not overly keen on the idea of the name of the stadium changing every few years but I suppose there is little that can be done about it.
Our day began with our annual meeting with Wycombe supporters Russell Cox and Dale Jenkins, who had made the long journey from Buckinghamshire for today’s game. Both are nice guys and we had a chat for a while as well as some photographs before going to watch the match. One of the main topics of conversation was the news that Dean Morgan, who had played for Chesterfield for the past two seasons, was making his debut for Wycombe today against his former club. Morgan is a player that divides opinion both on and off the pitch and so it added a little bit of extra spice to the game.
Caretaker manager Tommy Wright made two changes to the side that were held by York City last week, with new loan signing Chris Atkinson replacing Mark Allott in midfield while veteran striker Jack Lester replaced Jacob Hazel in the starting line up. Meanwhile, Gary Waddock started Dean Morgan, who most likely had a point to prove on his debut against his previous employers.
The Spireites were given a huge advantage in the 10th minute when defender Leon Johnson was shown a straight red card. Marc Richards turned past Johnson and was clean through on goal before he was pulled down by the defender, leaving the referee with no choice. It was unfortunate for Richards, who has still failed to open his account for the Spireites, but it was a definite sending off and it clearly gave Chesterfield the upper hand for the rest of the half.
The Spireites made the advantage count just 4 minutes later courtesy of a debut goal from Chris Atkinson. There was some neat play between Richards and Jack Lester, before Richards played a cross to the the near post and Atkinson fired the ball in to the back of the net to put the home side ahead.
Chesterfield began to pile the pressure on 10-man Wycombe and on the 20th minute they doubled the lead. Terrell Forbes crossed the ball in to the box but it was punched away by the goalkeeper. The ball fell to Sam Togwell on the edge of the area, and his shot was nodded home by Lester to make it 2-0.
By now it was looking as if Chesterfield could once again beat Wycombe convincingly as the home side continued to have chances to add to their lead, but they failed to make the most of them. Wycombe did have a few half chances, with Stuart Lewis’ long range effort stopped by O’Donnell, but they never really looked like threatening to pull a goal back.
As the half time whistle went it felt like the game was already won, with a good performance from the Spireites and Wycombe looking like a far inferior team in this game.
Richards was gifted with an excellent opportunity to put the game beyond doubt shortly after the restart, when Atkinson played him through on goal. However, the striker attempted to pick out the on-rushing Jack Lester instead of shooting himself and the attack petered out.
The game went through a rather quiet spell after this, with neither side having many chances in the September sunshine. The 3 points looked almost certain for Chesterfield until a crazy own goal from Neal Trotman on the 72nd minute gave the visitors a lifeline. Matt Spring’s corner flew over the head of O’Donnell and Trotman smashed the ball in to his own goal at the far post under little pressure. If it had been at the other end, it would have been seen as a great finish!
With this glimmer of hope, Wycombe brought on the experienced Gareth Ainsworth in an attempt to snatch a point. However, the Chairboys rarely looked like grabbing an equalising goal and with 5 minutes to go, Sam Hird finally confirmed the victory with a headed goal. The defender got on the end of Craig Westcarr’s corner and directed the ball in to the net to score his second goal in as many games and kill the game off.
It was a good win for the Spireites and I was very pleased to finally pick up 3 points in a league game this season. Wycombe have been a good side in recent seasons, but they struggled today and it could be a long season for the Chairboys. This victory moves Chesterfield up from 19th to 16th in the league table. It’s a start!
After the match, I met and had pictures with Chesterfield legend Steve Blatherwick, striker Marc Richards and Wycombe players Anthony Stewart and Leon Johnson.
So, once again, Chesterfield scored 4 goals against Wycombe Wanderers at the new stadium. Unfortunately, Trotman had put one of them in the wrong net, but in the end it didn’t matter as the Spireites had come away with all 3 points.
Chesterfield 3-1 Wycombe Wanderers
Atkinson ’14, Lester ’20, Trotman (og) ’72, Hird ’85O’Donnell, Forbes, Trotman, Hird, Ridehalgh, Togwell, Atkinson (Randall ’90), Talbot, Westcarr (Allott ’88), Richards, Lester (Darikwa ’74) Bull, Johnson, Dunne, Thompson (Taylor ’72), Parsons (Stewart ’12), Doherty, Lewis, Spring, Grant, Morgan, Kuffour (Ainsworth ’78) Attendance: 5,113