Derby County brought Chesterfield’s FA Cup run to an end with a 2-0 victory at the iPro Stadium on Saturday 24th January.
Darren Bent opened the scoring with a header on his Rams debut after 20 minutes.
The Spireites fought back and dominated much of the action in the second period, but couldn’t find the net, and Will Hughes’82nd minute goal sealed Derby’s victory in this Derbyshire Derby to put them in Round 5.
It was the first time Chesterfield had reached the FA Cup 4th Round since 1997 – the year they famously reached the semi-final, and they it taken a long and unusual path to get to this stage.
A comfortable 6-0 victory over non-league Braintree Town was followed by a controversial second round tie against MK Dons. After winning the game 1-0, Chesterfield were then found to have fielded an ineligible player and forced to replay the contest – again being victorious by the same scoreline.
Trailing 2-0 to Scunthorpe United in the third round match, it looked to be the end of the road for Chesterfield. But a dramatic comeback and then victory in the replay saw them set up a fourth round tie with fellow Derbyshire club Derby County.
Sitting 4th in the Championship, the Rams naturally came into the cup contest as strong favourites. However, they had already learned not to become complacent by lower league opposition in the previous round when they only overcame non-league Southport with a 90th minute penalty.
There was a brilliant atmosphere inside the stadium that Derby have called home sine 1997. Over 5,700 away supporters filled their allocation and with a total attendance of 28,392, it very much crushed the theory that fans are no longer interested in the magic of the FA Cup.
The record books were stacked strongly in Derby’s favour. The two previous FA Cup ties between the sides had ended in victories for them, whilst the Spireites had never won away at the Rams in eight attempts.
But the Spireites were the ones that started strongest – Armand Gnanduillet failing to take advantage of a great chance in the first moments, before the Frenchman later forced a decent save out of goalkeeper Kelle Ross.
However, despite rarely threatening in the early exchanges it was the home side who scored the first goal of the afternoon in the 20th minute. Bent, making his full debut for the club, was as fast as lightning to pick up on a loose ball in the area – nodding past Tommy Lee from close range.
Chesterfield weren’t disheartened however, and continued to pile forward in search of a goal. They almost equalised before the break but an unmarked Sam Clucas was unable to find the target from close range.
The League 1 outfit began to dominate the possession in the second period as Derby looked content to hold their advantage and attack on the break.
This was a method that worked brilliantly as it was the home side that had the most dangerous chances despite not seeing all that much of the ball.
A brilliant save from Lee was the only thing that stopped Bent scoring his second after a Chris Martin through ball had cut through the Chesterfield defence like a knife through butter.
A similar incident saw Johnny Russell charge through on goal. This time the effort beat did Lee, but Tendayi Darikwa did magnificiently to get back and keep the ball out with a last ditch tackle.
At the other end, Chesterfield tried desperately to getting level. Some neat footwork from Jay O’Shea saw him work him way past a couple of defenders, but his final strike was blocked.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Ryan was set up by a cutback from Daniel Jones but disappointingly fired his strike high and wide of the target.
It was an end-to-end contest and Simon Dawkins thought he had doubled the Rams’ lead, but Lee was again the hero as he pushed the ball onto the woodwork.
There was an electric atmosphere in the away end as just under 6,000 away fans urged their side forward. But with eight minutes to go, dreams of a replay were dashed in the cruelest manner. A defensive error was capitalised by Hughes, who slotted the ball past Lee to seal Derby’s place in the fifth round.
It was disappointing for the Spireites. They had done themselves proud and showed that they are not far off the level required for the second tier – Derby’s clinical finishing in front of goal the only clear difference between the two sides in this Derbyshire Derby.
The Rams meet Reading in the next round, but will be hoping the cup doesn’t come as too much of a distraction to their hopes of promotion to the Premier League.
For Chesterfield, this occasion will only make them more determined to continue their push for promotion to the Championship – starting with Crawley Town on Tuesday night.
Derby County 2-0 Chesterfield
Bent ’20, Hughes ’82
Roos, Albentosa (Ward ’46), Keogh, Buxton, Christie, Hendrick, Mascarell, Hughes, Forsyth, Martin (Dawkins ’70), Bent
Lee, Darikwa, Hird, Raglan, Jones, Clucas, Morsy, Ryan (Banks ’75), O’Shea (Gardner ’75), Gnanduillet (Dieseruvwe ’88), Doyle