On Saturday 15th December 2012, I went to the Proact Stadium to watch Chesterfield play Burton Albion in League 2.
It had been almost a month since my last Chesterfield game, a 4-1 victory against Cheltenham Town, and so it was good to be back at the Proact Stadium today for the visit of Burton Albion. The Spireites were on a good run of form which had seen them win their last four league games, including victories against 2nd placed Port Vale and 3rd placed Cheltenham Town. Paul Cook had really changed the fortunes of the club since joining at the end of October and Chesterfield were now back in the promotion picture in 10th.
Burton Albion had also made an excellent start to the campaign and were sat in 9th position going in to the game. The Brewers made the short journey to Derbyshire in the hope of making it three consecutive victories in all competitions after beating Crewe Alexandra in the FA Cup and Accrington Stanley in the league, both by the same score line of 1-0.
After an impressive 2-0 victory away to Port Vale last Saturday, Paul Cook had named the same team for today’s match. However, former Premiership footballer Luis Boa Morte had picked up a slight knock late on and was replaced by loanee Brennan Dickenson in the starting line up.
Meanwhile, Gary Rowett made two changes to the Burton Albion side that defeated Accrington Stanley last weekend, with Billy Kee and Chris Palmer replaced by Cleveland Taylor and Jack Dyer.
Before today’s game, I saw the Brewers’ team coach arrive at the stadium and so I got photos with manager Gary Rowett as well as Robbie Weir, Calvin Zola, Matthew Paterson and Billy Kee. Kee, who scored the winning goal for Burton last week, even recognised me from our last photograph together when he played for Torquay United!
The Spireites started brightly and had the first chance of the game early on when Liam Cooper’s header went just wide of the target. Marc Richards almost gave the home side the lead when his deflected effort seemed to catch goalkeeper Dean Lyness off-guard and he had to make a much more dramatic save than the strike required.
Burton began to look more dangerous going forward, but struggled to create many clear cut chances to take the lead. Lee Bell came very close to opening the scoring when his free kick beat Tommy Lee and smashed off the woodwork before being frantically cleared away by the defenders.
On the 34th minute, the deadlock was broken courtesy of a goal from Jacques Maghoma. Calvin Zola flicked the ball forward from a goal kick to play Maghoma through on goal and the Congo international calmly slid the ball past Lee to give the visitors the lead.
Chesterfield immediately went in search of an equaliser and almost found it when Jay O’Shea’s mis-hit effort straight from a corner was poked on to the post by Richards. Richards had another opportunity just before the break when he found himself with a free header but the striker could only direct the ball over the crossbar.
The Brewers had the ball in the net at the start of the second half. Zola was denied by a magnificent save from Lee but Maghoma looked to have grabbed his and the visitors’ second goal when he poked the ball home. However, referee Geoff Eltrigham judged that the ball had been kicked out of the goalkeeper’s hands and so the goal was disallowed.
The majority of the second period was dominated by the Spireites as they upped the tempo and went looking for an equalising goal, while Burton seemed happy to sit back and defend their single goal advantage.
Home supporters were on their feet when Randall’s free kick crashed off the near post and left the goalkeeper falling in to the netting, but the ball was cleared by some determined defending. Richards was also denied by the woodwork when his header hit the inside of the post before falling to safety and it really felt like it wasn’t the home side’s day.
However, with just over 15 minutes to play, Richards gave Chesterfield a much deserved equaliser. Randall played a dangerous cross in to the box and found the striker, who had got behind the defender and headed the ball past Lyness to level the score.
If anyone was going to grab a winning goal, it was going to be the Spireites. However, they struggled to find a breakthrough as the visitors camped out in area and desperatley used any opportunity to run down the clock. The frustration got the better of substitute Jack Lester, who was shown a straight red card for dragging Zander Diamond to the ground in stoppage time. The veteran striker will now miss the next three games which is disappointing, and the game ended all square.
The two teams had played well and a draw was probably a fair result on reflection. It keeps both sides within touching distance of the play offs as the Christmas period approaches and both will have high hopes of climbing the table in the coming weeks and months.
After the game, I was allowed to go and watch Paul Cook’s post match interview. The Chesterfield boss was clearly pleased with the second half display and claimed that “We probably deserved to win, but Burton played well and its no accident that they’re high than us in the league table.”
Chesterfield 1–1 Burton Albion
Maghoma ’34, Richards ’74Lee, Smith, Hird, Darikwa, Cooper, Togwell, Randall (Clay ’90), Talbot, O’Shea (Townsend ’85), Richards, Dickenson (Lester ’70) Lyness, Diamond, O’Connor, Holness, Taylor (Kee ’85), Weir, McCrory, Maghoma, Dyer, Bell, Zola (Richards ’85) Attendance: 5,741