On Tuesday 19th August 2014, I went to the Proact Stadium to watch Chesterfield play MK Dons in League 1.
It was the first evening league game of the season and MK Dons were the visitors. Chesterfield had made a fantastic start to their return to League 1 with two wins in two against Leyton Orient and Rochdale. However, MK Dons are a side that have regularly been in the upper reaches of the third tier and they were expected to be a very stern test for the Spireites this evening.
Chesterfield started the contest strongly and the first save was made by Dons keeper David Martin from a strong effort by Sam Morsy. And shortly after Morsy forced another, less comfortable save from Martin with a long range strike that the ‘keeper could only palm away from goal.
The Spireites were then left wondering how they hadn’t opened the scoring. Gary Roberts’ corner found Ian Evatt at the far post. The captain had two bites at the cherry and both were blocked on the line before the ball landed to Sam Hird, whose header from just yards out somehow only managed to find the post.
MK Dons’ best opportunity of the opening 45 minutes came towards the end of the half. A lobbed through ball by Dean Bowditch put Benik Afobe seeming through on goal, but the man on-loan from Arsenal decided to hit the ball first time and sent it into orbit.
Eoin Doyle really should have broken the deadlock right at the start of the second period. A long ball upfield left the Dons defenders stranded as Doyle charged towards goal, but the Irishman fired his strike well off target when a cut back to fellow on-rusher Roberts may have been the better option.
It was a piece of brilliance from Afobe that resulted in the first goal of the evening in the 49th minute. The 21-year old picked up the ball near the half way line and raced towards goal, cutting past a couple of players before unleashing an unstoppable strike to put the visitors ahead.
With this goal, MK Dons began to grow in confidence. Afobe was causing all-sorts of problems for Chesterfield and he was again turning past players with ease, this time setting up Will Grigg who could not hit the target.
The Spireites desperately searched for a goal that would keep their unbeaten league record in tact. Dan Garnder hit a dangerous cross towards the far post but Ian Evatt’s header never looked like threatening the keeper and you just felt that it just wasn’t their night.
The full time whistle brought the close-contest to a close and it was the visitors who headed back down south with all three points. It was a disappointing first defeat of the season for Chesterfield, but six points from their first three matches is still not a bad return and they could be pleased knowing they had given a very good side a real battle this evening.
Chesterfield 0-1 MK Dons
Lee, Hird, Jones, Darikwa, Evatt, O’Shea (Banks ’63), Roberts, Morsy, Ryan (Gardner ’81), Boco (Gnanduillet ’63), Doyle
Martin (McLoughlin ’46), Kay, Lewington, Hodson (Baldock ’55), McFadzean, Alli, Potter, Bowditch (Grigg ’89), Powell, Reeves, Afobe