Chesterfield fell to their first defeat in seven games as Bradford City ran out 1-0 winners at the Proact Stadium on Saturday 13th December 2014.
Billy Clarke’s superb second half strike proved to be the difference between the two sides as the Bantams moved to within a point of the play off spots.
The Spireites had earlier been reduced to ten men after Sam Morsy received a straight red card after an incident that saw his arm raised towards Bradford’s Andy Halliday.
The defeat ends a dreadful week for Chesterfield, who were charged on Monday for fielding an ineligible player in their second round victory over MK Dons and face being kicked out of the FA Cup.
Despite being the first home game of December, it was a surprisingly bright day in North Derbyshire with the sunshine at times blinding for supporters in the East Stand for the early stages of the match.
But this may have been for the best for the home fans as their side offered little threat in the first half, the 2013 League Cup finalists dominating the early exchanges and going close on a number of occasions.
Jon Stead and Halliday both had chances for the visitors early on, and it was Stead who should have opened the scoring. Mark Yeates’ cross found him free in front of goal but the former Premier League man couldn’t keep his effort down.
Chesterfield never came close to breaking the deadlock in the opening 45 minutes – Jimmy Ryan’s hopeful, long-range effort the only real opportunity of note and it was comfortably held by the man between the posts.
Yeates thought he had scored for Bradford when he cut inside and unleashed a powerful strike which looked goal-bound. However, the ball curved wide at the final moment – much to the anguish of the winger.
Chesterfield started the second period brighter and Jay O’Shea’s cross in front of goal looked like the perfect setup, but nobody could get a finishing touch on it.
But the home side’s task was made much harder soon after as Morsy saw red. The midfielder appeared to catch Halliday in the face with his arm and the referee showed no doubt as he instantly pulled out the red card, reducing the Spireites to ten men.
Bradford made the extra man count almost immediately by taking the lead. Clarke turned and unleashed an unstoppable strike past Tommy Lee before charging away to celebrate with more than 1,000 travelling supporters behind the goal.
Stead really should have doubled the advantage soon after, but with a simple tap in from just yards out he somehow failed to find the net.
Filipe Morais had another chance to seal the victory when he broke through one-on-one with Lee, but he could only strike his effort straight at the on-rushing goalkeeper.
The visitors were struggling to put the game to bed and were almost made to pay for it late on. But goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was the hero as he tipped O’Shea’s powerful strike on to the crossbar to make sure Bradford saw out their fifth victory in six games.
Chesterfield 0-1 Bradford City
Lee, Darikwa (Boco ’83), Raglan, Margreitter, Clucas, O’Shea (Gardner ’84), Ryan, Morsy, Roberts (Ariyibi ’88), Gnanduillet, Doyle
Pickford, Darby, McArdle, Davies, Meredith, Morais, Liddle, Halliday (Knott ’62), Yeates, Stead (Hanson ’84), Clarke (Zoko ’90)