Chesterfield 1-1 Hartlepool United – League 2

CFCPool1

On December 26th 2013, I went to the Proact Stadium to watch Chesterfield play Hartlepool United.

My second ever, and second consecutive Boxing Day match saw the Spireites host Hartlepool. The last time ‘Pool had visited the Proact it had been a day to forget for the visitors as Chesterfield ran out 6-1 winners in the FA Cup tie. Remarkably, despite being little more than a year on from that game, not one of the six Spireites goalscorers (Scott Boden, Mark Randall, Craig Clay, Terrell Forbes, Jack  Lester and Ccraig Westcarr) remained at the club – just shows how quickly things can change in football!

The side from Derbyshire were sitting top of the League 2 table heading in to this festive fixture on a run of four consecutive wins in all competitions. In stark contrast, Hartlepool had made a poor start to life back in the fourth tier and hadn’t picked up a victory in over a month.

The visit of Hartlepool was particularly special for one Chesterfield player – Ritchie Humphreys. Humphreys, who joined the Spireites in the summer from ‘Pool, is a club legend at Victoria Park. He played for them for 12 seasons and holds the club record for appearances with an incredible 544. This afternoon saw him face his former club for the first time since leaving in the summer, so it was sure to be an emotional day for the 36 year old left back.

The game got off to a slow start in front of a bumper boxing day crowd of over 7,500. It was the visitors that had the first chance of the contest, Luke James forcing an early save out of in-form goalkeeper Tommy Lee.

Chesterfield began to grow into the game and Armad Gnanduillet came close to opening the scoring with two successive opportunities. The Frenchman, who returned to the starting line up after recovering from a knock, first saw an effort cleared off the line by a defender before firing an effort just wide of the target soon after.

Eoin Doyle saw a long range volley fly just wide of Scott Flinders’ goal, before the Spireites finally broke the deadlock just after the half hour mark. A cross from Marc Richards found Tendayi Darikwa at the far post and a confident side-footed volley from the winger put the home side in the ascendancy.

But all the hard work from the Spireites in the first half was undone in a matter of moments. Just two minutes after the restart, the visitors were awarded a penalty as James Poole was pulled down in the box by Sam Hird. Matthew Dolan stepped up and levelled the scores from the spot, despite ‘keeper Lee diving the right way.

The game became an end-to-end battle as both sides searched for the goal that could win it for them. The home side were given an advantage with over 20 minutes to play as Andy Monkhouse was shown his second yellow card, the first for diving and then another moments later for what looked like an elbow on Drew Talbot.

Despite the man advantage, the solid Hartlepool defence still held strong as Richards’ off-target effort the best the Spireites could muster. Dolan came close to bagging his and the visitors’ second of the game, while James forced a superb diving save from  Lee in the final moments of the game.

The match ended level with a battling performance from 10-man Hartlepool earning them a deserved point. Chesterfield will have been a little disappointed not to have taken all three points, but they remained top of the league 2 table with just one game of 2013 to go.

Chesterfield 11 Hartlepool United

Darikwa ’31, Dolan ’48 (pen)

Lee, Talbot, Humphreys, Banks, Evatt, Hird, Darikwa, Togwell (Cooper ’80), Gnanduillet (O’Shea ’66), Richards, Doyle (McSheffrey ’77)

Flinders, Duckworth, Austin, Walker, Baldwin, Burgess, Compton (Poole ’17), Dolan, James, Franks (Rodney ’87), Monkhouse

 Attendance: 7,680

The Proact Stadium on Boxing Day

The Proact Stadium on Boxing Day

Today's opposition

Today’s opposition

Fans outside the ground

Fans outside the ground

The home of Chesterfield FC

The home of Chesterfield FC

The back of the South Stand

The back of the South Stand

Hartlepool legend and current Spireite Ritchie Humphreys

Hartlepool legend and current Spireite Ritchie Humphreys

Armand Gnanduillet warms up

Armand Gnanduillet warms up

The players make their way on to the pitch

The players make their way on to the pitch

The Kop

The Kop

Pre-match handshakes

Pre-match handshakes

Chesterfield huddle

Chesterfield huddle

Tommy Lee puts an end to an early Hartlepool attack

Tommy Lee puts an end to an early Hartlepool attack

The Hartlepool fans

The Hartlepool fans

Hartlepool flags

Hartlepool flags

Ddrew Talbot

Ddrew Talbot

Sunset over the Proact

Sunset over the Proact

Darikwa opens the scoring

Darikwa opens the scoring

1-0 on the half hour

1-0 on the half hour

A Chesterfield player goes down injured

A Chesterfield player goes down injured

Hartlepool equalise from the spot

Hartlepool equalise from the spot

The visitors celebrate

The visitors celebrate

The Proact Stadium

The Proact Stadium

The visitors celebrate a hard fought draw

The visitors celebrate a hard fought draw

The supporters head home

The supporters head home

Home time!

Home time!

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