On Boxing Day 2012, I went to the Proact Stadium to watch Chesterfield play York City in League 2.
Today’s game between Chesterfield and York City was a fixture of firsts. It was the Minstermen’s first visit to the Proact Stadium after regaining their league status last season while it was also the first Boxing Day fixture at the new stadium. Also, in all my years as a football fan I had never been to a game on Boxing Day – a traditional football date – and so it was a personal first.
Chesterfield came in to the game sitting just outside the play offs and a victory in this game would push them closer to these vital places. The Spireites had won four of their last six league games, but they had suffered a setback on Friday night when they were defeated 3-0 by fellow promotion favourites Southend United.
Meanwhile, York City had made a mixed start to their first season back in the football league. Gary Mills’ side were sitting around mid-table and their last four fixtures highlighted the Minstermen’s inconsistency, with two victories and two defeats.
Paul Cook made just a single change to the side that had lost at Roots Hall, with the injured Marc Richards replaced by on-loan Conor Townsend. There was also one change to the York City starting eleven from their last game, a 4-1 victory against bristol Rovers, with Alex Rodman replacing Ashley Chambers.
The first half was very quiet with neither side creating many chances. Jay O’Shea forced a save from the York goalkeeper, while Michael Potts’ low shot was well saved by Tommy Lee at his near post. However, the opportunities were few and far between and it was goalless at the end of the first period.
The Spireites got off to the perfect start in the second half. Just a minute after the restart, Mark Randall’s free kick was poked home from close range by Drew Talbot to put the home side ahead.
Two goals in three minutes sealed the points for Chesterfield. With a quarter of an hour to play, O’Shea volleyed the ball forward and found Talbot, who back-heeled the ball to substitute Danny Whitaker. Whitaker, who had been on the pitch for a matter of seconds, cut past the defender before firing the ball in to the bottom corner to double the advantage.
Tendayi Darikwa put the result beyond doubt with the simplest of goals just two minutes later. Chris Smith’s weak back pass was picked up by Whitaker, who played the ball to Luis Boa Morte inside the box. The former Portuguese international was dispossessed, but the ball fell straight to Darikwa who slotted the ball in to the unguarded net to guarantee the victory.
York City did attempt to get back in to the game and came close on a couple of occasions, but it simply wasn’t the visitors’ day. Patrick McLaughlin’s volleyed effort was magnificently tipped away by Lee and the resulting corner again called the goalkeeper in to action as he tipped Smith’s header on to the crossbar.
Chesterfield ran out deserved 3-0 winners in the end, with a fantastic second half performance earning Paul Cook’s side all 3 points. The Spireites are now in 9th place and just one point away from the play off spots. The defeat saw Minstermen fall to 15th position, but they are a comfortable 11 points from the relegation and should have little to worry about in their first season back in the league.
Next up for Chesterfield is Morecambe at home on Saturday which will be my final game of 2012 and could see the Spireites move in to the play off places as we head in to the new year.
Chesterfield 3–0 York City
Talbot ’46, Whitaker ’75, Darikwa ’77Lee, Smith, Hird, Talbot, Cooper, Togwell, Darikwa, Randall (Clay ’61), Townsend (Whitaker ’74), O’Shea, Boa Morte (Dickenson ’84) Ingham, Smith, Parslow, Fyfield, Doig (Allen ’78), Kerr, Potts (Oyebanjo ’78), McLaughlin, Rodman (Reed ’66), Walker, Blair Attendance: 7,322