Chesterfield came from a goal down to earn a draw in a hotly contested match at the Proact Stadium against local opposition Notts County on Saturday 27th September.
Ahead of the game, the Spireites were looking to get back to winning ways after picking up just a single point from their last two matches. However, in comparison to County, who had failed to pick up a league victory in over a month, the home side – sat in 5th position – had enjoyed a relatively successful start to the campaign and looked to be the favourites heading in to the contest.
Away from the pitch, the new Memorial Garden outside the stadium was receiving its finishing touches before the grand opening the following day. Funded by the fans, the garden remembers Chesterfield players and fans alike that have passed away as well as including various mementos from Saltergate – a nice new feature for the stadium.
Chesterfield boss Paul Cook had made four changes to the side, which included bringing on-loan defender Georg Margreitter in to the centre of defence, in the hope of tightening up a defence that had conceded a total of six goals at Preston and Doncaster in the past week.
However, the new look defence lasted for little more than a quarter of an hour before Blair Adams gave the Magpies an early lead. The left back picked up the ball on the edge of the box and took a touch before unleashing a pinpoint strike in to the bottom corner to put the visitors in front.
It was no more than County deserved after dominating the early exchanges, Zeli Ismail’s header forcing an outstanding save from Lee shortly before the goal.
Adams almost had his and County’s second of the game with a similar strike to his earlier goal, except that this time he could only find the far post before the ball was eventually scrambled away by the desperate defenders.
After clinging on for dear life for the early part of the match, the Spireites finally began to grow in to the contest and show some of the form that had given them a good start to their return to the third tier.
Armand Gnanduillet, brought in to the starting eleven following defeat at the Keepmoat Stadium in midweek, came close to levelling with a close range header than flew inches wide of the target.
Eoin Doyle then came even closer with a header of his own. Loanee Daniel Johnson was beginning the create more and more problems for the opposition and he found the Irish forward at the far post with a perfect cross. However, the the looping header was not powerful enough and County managed to clear the ball off the line to keep themselves ahead up until the break.
The second half began with Chesterfield in the ascendancy and metaphorically throwing the kitchen sink at Notts County in search of an equaliser. A goalmouth scramble saw both Doyle and Gnanduillet have shots saved by goalkeeper Roy Carroll. The resulting corner then saw Margreitter find the crossbar with a header.
County goalkeeper Carroll, one of two former Manchester United stars on the pitch along with Alan Smith, was in inspired form as he made another superb save from Tendayi Darikwa’s header. But even he couldn’t keep out the next effort as Chesterfield finally made their aerial pressure pay with a bullet header from Margreitter to score his first goal in a blue shirt.
After having all the momentum in the run up to the equaliser, the Spireites seemed to run out of steam slightly and the game became a real end-to-end battle as both teams looked for a winner.
Substitute Shaun Harrad came close to regaining the lead for the away side. The forward looked to have been stopped in his tracks by the on-rushing goalkeeper, but he managed to get on to the rebound and lob the ball goalwards – only denied by a last ditch clearance off the line from Ian Evatt.
At the other end, Austrian defender Margreitter for a moment thought he had his second of the afternoon with an other header, bit his attempt was again blocked on the line by some excellent defending.
Both sides had chances to steal all three points, Noble and Johnson being denied by saves by two goalkeepers in outstanding form. In the end a point a piece was probably a fair reflection on the game. The two teams had each had strong spells during the match and may feel they deserved more, which itself probably shows that a draw was the right result on the day.
Chesterfield, who fall to eighth in the League 1 table, now have a week to prepare for one of the biggest local derbies of the season as Sheffield United visit the Proact Stadium next Saturday!
Chesterfield 1-1 Notts County
Adams ’15, Margreitter ’62
Lee, Darikwa, Clucas, Margreitter, Evatt, O’Shea (Gardner ’80), Johnson, Ryan, Banks, Gnanduillet, Doyle
Carroll, Hollis, Thompson, Cranston, Laing, Ismail, Noble, Wroe (Harrad ’58), Smith, Adams (Thompson ’68), Cassidy