On Tuesday 18th September 2012, I went to the Proact Stadium to watch Chesterfield play Accrington Stanley in NPower League 2.
Since their return to the football league in 2006, Accrington Stanley have never won in Chesterfield in 4 attempts. Losing 3 and drawing 1, the most recent game in Derbyshire between the two sides saw the Spireites win 5-2 in the season that they lifted the League 2 trophy. However, Stanley came in to today’s game still yet to lose a league game away from this season. Victories away at Southend United and Cheltenham Town were followed by a draw at Dagenham and Redbridge on Saturday. In fact Accrington were yet to lose a game in September and so they came in to this game full of confidence.
Meanwhile, Chesterfield had finally picked up their first victory of the season on Saturday, defeating Wycombe Wanderers 3-1. Despite this, Chesterfield appeared to be ‘draw specialists’ this season and had only lost a single league game in this campaign. The Spireites were also unbeaten at home so it was sure to be a hard fought contest at the Proact Stadium.
It was a cool evening in Chesterfield and certainly a lot colder than the previous Tuesday evening game against Rochdale just under a month ago. However, compared to what the weather will be like in the winter months I am sure these will feel like tropical conditions for football!
Chesterfield’s caretaker manager Tommy Wright named an unchanged side to the one that had defeated Wycombe on Saturday, which meant veteran striker Jack Lester started his second consecutive game, while Stanley manager Paul Cook made 3 changes with Craig Lindfield, Danny Schofield and Charlie Barnett all coming in to the starting line up.
The game kicked off in front of 4,359 supporters and Accrington almost gave their travelling supporters something to shout about inside 5 minutes. Charlie Barnett received the ball inside the box, cut inside past Liam Ridehalgh and fired his shot on to the crossbar.
Barnett was made to rue this missed opportunity when a 3 minute spell saw the home side take a 2-0 lead. The first goal came in the 8th minute when Neal Trotman’s header was flicked on by Stanley defender Luke Joyce and in to the path of Jack Lester, who superbly chipped the goalkeeper from the edge of the area to open the scoring.
It was 2-0 in the 11th minute when Lester turned in to the provider when his cross found Marc Richards in front of goal and a glancing header doubled the home sides advantage. It was Richards’ first goal for the Spireites since joining from Port Vale in the summer and I am sure this will be a huge boost for his confidence and he looks to become a regular goalscorer for Chesterfield.
After a quiet spell in the game, Richards thought he had made it 3-0 when he bundled the ball in to the net from a corner. However, the referee decided that there had been a foul on goalkeeper Ian Dunbavin and so the celebrations were cut short. Just a minute later, Stanley had pulled a goal back courtesy of Romuald Boco. Barnett’s cross found Boco, who has represented Benin more than 40 times, and his header left Richard O’Donnell with no chance.
The goal gave the visitors a confidence boost and they began to play some neat passing football. Despite putting lots of pressure on Chesterfield in an attempt to draw level, the defence held out and at half time it was 2-1 to the Spireites.
The home side continued to struggle at the start of the second period and Accrington’s comeback was complete just before the hour mark when a cross in to the box found Peter Murphy completely unmarked and he poked the ball in to the net from point blank range to make it 2-2.
Tommy Wright replied to this by bringing on 20 year old Tendayi Darikwa to replace Craig Westcarr, and it was the substitute who created the goal that put Chesterfield back in front. On the 66th minute, Darikwa crossed in to the box and found Lester, who put the ball past Dunbavin to score his second goal of the game and put the Spireites ahead once again.
The visitors refused to go away and the scores were level again on the 76th minute courtesy of a magnificent solo goal from Boco. The Stanley player beat a couple of players before firing a low shot from outside the area that beat O’Donnell and made it 3-3. The goal was of such quality that it even received some applause from the home supporters.
The game was already a classic and it always felt like their was going to be a winning goal as the 80 minute mark approached. The Spireites were handed a huge lifeline on the 83rd minute when an opposition player was shown a straight red card for the second game in a row. Michael Liddle lost posession of the ball and attempted to win it back from Lester by diving in recklessly on the striker. The referee was left with little choice and showed the Stanley player a red card for the challenge.
The winning goal came just a minue later for the Spireites, who finally finished off a spirited Accrington side with a goal from defender Terrell Forbes. Lester ‘s first time cross from the edge of the area fell to Forbes, who took a touch before firing the ball in to the corner to make it 4-3. The defender was clearly delighted as he sprinted half the length of the pitch in celebration, and rightly so as it was his goal that gave the Spireites their second consecutive victory.
On a more worrying note, goalscorer Marc Richards landed awkwardly in the dying seconds and had to be stretchered off the field after the full time whistle. Hopefully the injury won’t keep the striker out for too long as he has been playing well and his goal should give him a real confidence boost.
It hadn’t been the most convincing defensive performance from either side, but the attacking football was excellent at times and the game was a great advert for lower league football. In the end, both sides had played well enough to win and Accrington will feel disappointed not to have come away with atleast a point from this game.
The victory leaves Chesterfield in 11th place in the League 2 table on 10 points, so the Spireites are gradually moving up the table and hopefully these two wins will be the starting point for a successful season. An instant return to League 1 is the target, but there is still a very long way to go this season.
After the match, I had photographs with Chesterfield’s on loan midfielder Chris Atkinson, Accrington goalscorer Romauld Boco, goalkeeper Ian Dunbavin and Lee Molyneux.
Next up for me is a trip to Hillsborough on Saturday for Sheffield Wednesday vs. Bolton Wanderers in the Championship where I will be spending a match day with the Owls’ media team.
Chesterfield 4–3 Accrington Stanley
Lester ‘8 ’66, Richards ’11, Boco ’28 ’76, Murphy ’58, Forbes ’84O’Donnell, Forbes, Trotman, Hird, Ridehalgh, Togwell, Atkinson (Allott ’88), Talbot, Westcarr (Darikwa ’63), Richards, Lester (Randall ’88) Dunbavin, Murphy, Liddle, Nsiala, Lindfield, Joyce, Barnett (Mingoia ’55), Molyneux (Whichelow ’55), Schofield, Boco, Amond (Sheppard ’74) Attendance: 4,359