On Saturday 11th January 2014, I went to the Proact Stadium to watch Chesterfield play Bury in League 2.
My first match of the new year saw Chesterfield take on Bury. In the two previous games between these sides at the Proact Stadium, there had been one victory each – the most memorable of which was a 3-2 win for today’s visitors in 2011 which saw the Shakers clinch promotion to the third tier.
It had been a long wait for the Spireites, who hadn’t been in league action since the 29th December due to two consecutive postponements. These missed games had seen them slip from the top of the League 2 table, but of course with games in hand so the home side still sat in a very strong position. Bury were themselves on a good run of form and looking for pick up a third consecutive victory following wins over York and Hartlepool.
There were a massive seven changes to the Chesterfield side that had drawn with Dagenham in their previous game. The midfield trio of Jimmy Ryan, Sam Morsy and Gary Roberts all returned to action following injuries which was a huge boost. Meanwhile, Bury boss David Flitcroft – appointed in December following the sacking of Kevin Blackwell, named the same starting eleven that had thumped Hartlepool 3-0 on New Years Day.
Roberts looked bright early on for the home side and came close to opening the scoring in a neat move, that culminated in the winger dragging his efforts agonisingly wide of the far post. With 16 minutes gone, the Liverpudlian did find the net. Jay O’Shea whipped a cross into the box which, after taking a flick off an opposition player, found Roberts at the far post with the simplest of finishes to put Chesterfield one up.
Daniel Nardiello had an opportunity for Bury, charging into the box before firing a low shot that Tommy ee was equal to at the near post. However, the majority of the first half was controlled by the Spireites, who looked to extend their lead against the struggling Shakers.
Chesterfield’s hopes of holding on to the lead were greatly improved moments before the half time whistle as Danny Mayor saw red. The former Sheffield Wednesday man went in high on a tackle with Matty Brown and the referee judged that this was worthy of an instant dismissal.
The Spireites’ beautiful passing play continued into the second half as the likes of O’Shea and Roberts left the opposition chasing shadows. With 65 minutes on the clock, O’Shea doubled the lead. The Irishman cut in from the wing, before unleashing an unstoppable strike that any player from any division would have been proud of.
Roberts had the ball in the net for a second time but it was ruled out for offside. However, minutes later and the scoreboard did read 3-0 to the home side courtesy of an own goal from Tom Soares. Originally the goal appeared to have been ruled out, the linesman appearing to think that it was the offside Richards who had nodded the ball home. However, after taking a moment to consult his assistant, the referee awarded the own goal and the celebrations began once again!
With just over 10 minutes to play, Cook decided to bring on new signing Dan Gardner for his debut. And the former Halifax Town man made an instant impact, forcing an excellent save out of Brian Jensen. Then, with four minutes to play, Gardner made it a dream debut. The 23 year old went through on goal and after taking a touch to compose himself, hit a shot that took a huge deflection off the goalkeeper before ultimately dropping into the net to complete the rout.
As the final whistle blew there was a huge cheer from the home supporters who had witnessed their sides biggest home win of the season. It was fantastic performance by the Spireites, who had dominated the game and looked like a side that more than deserved to be sitting in the automatic promotion places in the division.
Chesterfield 4-0 Bury
Roberts ’16, O’Shea ’65, Soares (o.g) ’75, Gardner ’86
Lee, Talbot, Smith (Humphreys ’56), Morsy, Brown, Cooper, O’Shea, Rryan, Richards, Banks (Gnanduillet ’71), Richards (Gardner ’79)
Jensen, Burke, Veseli, Miller, Cameron (Soares ’46), Hinds, Sedgwick, Proctor (Obadeyi ’72), Forrester (Grimes ’81), Nardiello, Mayor