Chesterfield defeated local rivals Sheffield United 3-2 in a thrilling contest at the Proact Stadium on 4th October 2014.
A pearler from Jimmy Ryan opened the scoring before goals from Gary Roberts and Eoin Doyle gave the Spireites a commanding 3-0 lead. Both teams were reduced to ten men in the first half, Michael Higdon and Tommy Lee both receiving red cards, and it was a mistake by Lee’s replacement Myles Wright that saw Marc McNulty pull one back for the Blades. Neill Collins’ late goal made it a nervy ending but the home side managed to hang on to the win.
Full report below
There was huge sense of excitement around the ground as a sell-out crowd prepared to witness these local rivals go head to head. It was the first time that Chesterfield and Sheffield United had met since the 2011/12 season – the Blades doing the double with a 1-0 victory at the Proact and a 4-1 thumping at Bramall Lane. However, the sides were now far more evenly matched this time around, with just a single place separating them in the table, and so there was a huge sense of expectation from both sets of supporters.
The game began at the earlier time of 1 o’clock and the opening minutes were scrappy with neither side really able to get a foothold on the game.
The atmosphere inside the stadium was electric with the passionate supporters chanting back and forth throughout the contest. This was temporarily put on hold though in the 8th minute as fans took part in a minutes applause to show support for club legend Ernie Moss, who has recently been diagnosed with a rare form of dementia called Pick’s disease.
Back on the field, the visitors thought they had taken the lead inside a quarter of an hour when Higdon’s close range header hit the net, but the assistant’s raised flag meant it was quickly chalked off for offside.
Both sides were beginning to look more dangerous in the final third. Chesterfield looked comfortable tapping the ball around the field while the Blades were getting men behind the ball and looking to hit on the counter, coming close to breaking away on a couple of occasions early on.
In the 26th minute the game had its first goal. Daniel Jones did well to keep the ball in play and after some neat work between Daniel Johnson and Jay O’Shea, the ball landed to Jimmy Ryan on the edge of the area. The midfielder then unleashed an unstoppable strike, leaving Mark Howard with no chance, before charging away to celebrate with the ecstatic home supporters in the East Stand.
Four minutes later and life was made in even better for the Spireites as Higdon, United’s main striker and target man, was shown a straight red card for a poor challenge on Jones. There were few complaints about the decision due to the nature of the tackle, which was very much a ‘forward’s challenge’!
By now everything seemed to be going right for the Blues, but they were handed a setback of their own with less than five minutes to go until the break. A weak back pass from Ian Evatt put Stefan Scougall through. Goalkeeper Lee raced out of his goal but his mistimed tackle flattened Scougall as he looked certain to score. Once again there were few protests as the red was brandished by the man in charge.
Lee’s replacement was teenager Wright who was making his professional debut. For a moment, the whole ground held its breath as United looked to challenge the youngster straight away from a free kick. However, in the end the wall stood strong and did it’s job as the effort was blocked.
Any doubts about the teenager were quickly forgotten as Chesterfield doubled their lead on the stroke of half time. Roberts stole the ball from Paddy McCarthy and charged goalwards, calmly slotting the ball past Howard to put the Spireites in a fantastic position heading in to the interval.
The second half saw Chesterfield control the action, at times almost humiliating the opposition with fast paced passing to the tune of some joyous and mocking chants from the home crowd.
Doyle came close to furthering the lead with a far post header that was only kept out by a last ditch block from Collins, before Sam Morsy hit a curling effort that flew only yards wide of the target.
Chesterfield’s top scorer Doyle then looked to have a glorious chance to grab another around the hour mark as he raced in on goal. He unselfishly decided to cut back to Ryan, but this proved to be the wrong choice as the hit the midfielder couldn’t repeat his earlier strike and instead hit it high and wide.
But the fans didn’t have to wait long to see the scoreboard change to 3-0 as Doyle scored his 13th of the season. Johnson’s shot was blocked in the area but the ball fortunately landed at the feet of the Irishman, who couldn’t miss from such close range.
The home side now appeared to be cruising and for a moment chants of “Easy” echoed around the stadium. But these were quickly silenced after an error in the 81st from debutant goalkeeper Wright left McNulty with a simple tap in to suddenly give the Blades belief once again.
United suddenly charged forward, substitute Jamal Campbell-Ryce in particular causing all sorts of problems down the wing, and with the 90 minutes up the lead was cut to one as Collins nodded the ball.
Understandably there was a huge cheer of joy and relief from the home fans at the full time whistle. The Spireites had been dominant for the majority of the game and despite a nervy ending, they had managed to see out a deserved victory over their local rivals – earning the three points that move them into the play off positions and of course some local bragging rights.
Chesterfield 3-2 Sheffield United
Ryan ’26, Roberts ’45, Doyle ’73, McNulty ’81, Collins ’90
Lee (RC), Darikwa, Evatt, Margreitter, Jones, Morsy, Ryan, Johnson, Roberts (Clucas ’66), O’Shea (Wright ’42), Doyle (Gnanduillet ’75)
Howard, Alcock, Collins, McCarthy, McEveley (Harris ’67), Doyle, Wallace (McNulty ’51), Flynn (Campbell-Ryce ’63), Scougall, Murphy, Higdon (RC)