The Proact Stadium’s final game of 2014 saw Chesterfield defeat Peterborough United in a five-goal thriller on 26th December.
An own goal from Gabriel Zakuani, followed by strikes from Armand Gnanduillet and Eoin Doyle, saw the Spireites race into a 3-0 lead in less than an hour.
But Posh pulled one back through Michael Bostwick’s header and Marcus Maddison ensured a nervy final 20 minutes for the home side when he narrowed the deficit to just one.
However, Chesterfield managed to hold on to the victory in an entertaining contest. The win saw them move just two points from the play offs.
It was the final home game for Chesterfield in a year that has seen them lift the League 2 title and reach their second Wembley final in three years.
It was today’s opponents, Peterborough United, who the Spireites had met in that Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final back in March. Posh ran out 3-1 winners that day to lift their first title. They were hoping for a similar result this Boxing Day afternoon, whilst the Spireites were looking for revenge.
Coming into the traditional Boxing Day fixture, both sides were sat in the top half of the table and hoping to move closer to the top six with a victory. The Spireites were in decent form with just one defeat in six league matches and a good win away at Gillingham in the last.
Meanwhile, Peterborough weren’t having such a good time at the moment – losing four of their last five contests in all competitions following a great start to the campaign, so they were desperately hoping to get back on the track today in Derbyshire.
The first half went as you would have expected viewing the recent form book, as the home side dominated most of the exchanges.
Gary Roberts forced an early save from Ben Alnwick at a tight angle. And the breakthrough came not long after as the home fans were celebrating with just ten minutes gone.
The dangerous Tendayi Darikwa picked up the ball from outside the box and charged goalwards. The winger then unleashed a powerful strike that looked to be going wide before taking a huge deflection of Zakuani, who could do nothing about it as his own goal but the home side ahead.
The Spireites kept pushing forward and found their second of the afternoon just after the half-hour mark. Doyle’s low, deflected cross in the area fell perfectly to Gnanduillet, who made no mistake to score his first league goal of the season for Chesterfield and double the lead.
They nearly added even more before the break. Romuald Boco, who was very impressive all afternoon, picked up the ball in his own half and raced forward before finding Gnanduillet out wide. Some fancy footwork from the Ivorian preceded him finding Roberts in the box, but he could only poke the ball agonisingly wide of the target.
Less than ten mintues into the second half and they did have a third. Eoin Doyle’s 20th goal of the season was quite possibly his best – an unstoppable strike from distance to seemingly seal the victory for Chesterfield.
But in the 62nd minute, Peterborough showed that it wasn’t over just yet. Bostwick got his head on the end of a cleverly worked set-piece to flick the ball home and pull a goal back for the visitors.
Peterborough were suddenly in the ascendancy and after a good response to falling 3-0 behind, they were suddenly just one goal behind with nearly 20 minutes to play. Maddison’s hopeful cross into the box appeared to fool everyone as it bounced over Tommy Lee and somehow found the net.
Jay O’Shea looked to quell any fears from the home fans as he fired a free kick at goal, forcing a decent save from Alnwick.
But it was Peterborough who were doing most of the pressing in the final few moments and they were almost gifted a bizarre equaliser. A long kick forward from Anwick looked to have been dealt with by Ian Evatt, but his header bounced off the foot of Ritchie Humphreys and left Harry Beautyman through on goal. However, the man on loan from Welling United couldn’t capitalise and Lee did well to get down and keep Chesterfield ahead.
This was the final real danger for the home side, who managed to hold on and see out an excellent victory which sees them overtake today’s opposition and move up to 9th place – just two points away now from the play off positions!
Chesterfield 3-2 Peterborough United
Zakuani (og) ’10, Gnanduillet ’34, Doyle ’54, Bostwick ’62, Maddison ’71
Lee, Darikwa, Evatt, Raglan, Clucas, Boco (0’Shea ’75), Hird, Humphreys, Roberts (Banks ’75), Gnanduillet (Jones ’60), Doyle
Alnwick, Bostwick, Zakuani, Burgess, Smith (Mendez-Laing ’75), Payne (Maddison ’28), Beautyman, Newell, Oztumer, James, McLean (Washington ’61)