On Tuesday 16th April 2013, I went to the Proact Stadium to watch Chesterfield take on Plymouth Argyle in League 2.
As the season draws to a conclusion, every game is of huge importance. This was especially the case in this Tuesday evening clash which saw both sides still with lots to play for. After a mixed season, Chesterfield were making a late push for the play offs and a victory in this game could see them move just a point away from the top seven. At the other end of the tabel, Plymouth were still battling for survival as they looked continue a good run of form which has seen them win four of their last six matches.
The main talking point of this game prior to kick off was the return of former Chesterfield boss John Sheridan. After taking charge of the Spireites in 2009, Sheridan saw great success at the Proact Stadium as he led the side to both the League 2 and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy titles. However, following a relegation and a poor start to this season, he sacked by the club and in January he took charge of the Pilgrims.
Sheridan was making his first visit to the Proact since he left the club in August, and he made three changes to the Plymouth side that had been defeated 1-0 at Burton Albion in their last game. Conor Hourihane, Paul Wotton and Paris Cowan Hall replaced Maxime Blanchard, Luke Young and Jason Banton in the starting eleven. For Chesterfield, Paul Cook made just one change as Marc Richards was put back in the first eleven while Armand Gnanduillet returned to the bench.
Plymouth started the game strongest, attacking towards their travelling supporters, and Conor Hourihane saw an early effort blocked by the legs of Tommy Lee in the Chesterfield goal.
On the 21st minute the visitors went ahead courtesy of a magnificent strike from Joe Bryan. The midfield loanee cut inside the on the edge of the box and curled a strike in to the far corner to put Argyle ahead.
And just five minutes later, the relegation-threatened Pilgrims doubled their advantage. The ball was whipped in and eventually fell to the feet of Curtis Nelson, who muscled past the defenders and poked the ball into the roof of the net to make it 2-0.
The remainder of the first half was relatively incident-free as the visitors looked to consolidate their lead. Early in the second period, Liam Cooper’s under-hit backpass almost gifted Bryan an opportunity to grab his second and the Pilgrims’ third goal, but he couldn’t take advantage as his strike hit the side netting.
Armand Gnanduillet replaced Marc Richards around the hour mark and instantly looked a threat to the Argyle defence. It was the Ivorian who started the piece of play that saw the Spireites find a way back in to the game. A neat pass found fellow substitute Alex Henshall on the edge of the box, and his low cross was turned in to the net by unfortunate defender Branston to make it 1-2.
Chesterfield desperately searched for the equaliser in the final half hour that would keep them in with a realistic chance of the play-offs. However, the home side struggled to break through a determined back line and in the end fell to a defeat against their former boss’ side.
The result was a massive step towards survival for the Pilgrims, who moved 4 points clear of the drop zone. On the other hand, it was a major blow for the Spireites who now sit four points from the play offs with just two games remaining, a huge task.
After the game I got photos with Argyle players Guy Branston, Ruben Reid and Andres Gurrieri before heading home.
Chesterfield 1–2 Plymouth Argyle
Bryan ’21, Nelson ’26, Branston (o.g) ’57Lee, Trotman (Hird ’72), Brindley (Henshall ’55), Cooper, Townsend, Darikwa, Togwell, Randall, Talbot, O’Shea, Richards (Gnanduillet ’55) Cole, Berry, Branston, Bhasera, Nelson, Bryan, Hourihane, Wotton, Gurrieri, Cowan-Hall, Reid (Chadwick ’81) Attendance: 4,988