There was late drama at the Proact Stadium as Chesterfield fought back from 2-0 down to salvage a point against Doncaster Rovers on 31st January 2015.
The visitors got off to the perfect start as they raced into a 2-0 lead after just nine minutes courtesy of strikes from James Coppinger and Andy Butler.
But a spirited Spireites fightback saw Eoin Doyle pull one back on the stroke of half time. Jimmy Ryan’s 87th equaliser then earned Chesterfield a good point and ensured they remained in fifth place at the end of January.
Two of the divisions play-off hopefuls met at the Proact Stadium on a cold January afternoon looking for an important three points.
Both Chesterfield and Doncaster were in good form ahead of what was certain to be an enthralling encounter.
The Spireites had won four of their last six league games, rising to 5th place in the table. Meanwhile, 11th placed Rovers remained unbeaten in 2015 and were looking to continue their charge towards the play off spots.
Despite heavy snow in the days before this vital contest, the game went ahead without trouble – thanks much to the help of the faithful supporters that had shovelled snow off the pitch the day before.
The 1,800 away supporters who made the short journey to North Derbyshire were treated to an incredible start from their side as they scored twice in the opening nine minutes.
It was Rovers legend Coppinger who opened the scoring. The 34 year old, playing his 10th season for the Yorkshire club, fired past Tommy Lee into the top corner after just three minutes.
And with only nine minutes on the clock, Doncaster looked like they might already have the three points wrapped up.
Butler, who joined Rovers permanently this month following a loan spell from Sheffield United, got on the end of Coppinger’s corner and headed the ball home to double the lead.
It was an explosive start from the visitors but Chesterfield immediately went in search of a way back into the game; Morsy’s powerful driven effort just missing the target but showing signs of improvement for the Spireites after a difficult opening.
Jay O’Shea really should have pulled one back for the home side but somehow managed to scuff his effort over the crossbar from close range when in truth it looked easier to find the net.
Despite beginning to control more of the play, Chesterfield’s back line was still struggling to handle the power of Doncaster forwards Curtis Main and Uche Ikpeazu, who looked incredibly dangerous on the counter attack.
To combat this, Spireites boss Paul Cook decided to bring on experienced defender Ian Evatt, switching to five at the back in the hope of repressing more Doncaster attacks.
It was Evatt who almost gave Chesterfield a lifeline with a powerful header from a corner that forced an excellent diving save from Stephen Bywater.
After all the pressure towards the end of the half from Chesterfield, they finally scored shortly before the break.
A fantastic pass from Sam Morsy found the much talked-about Doyle, who calmly chested the ball down before slotting the ball home – showing everyone why there are talks of a £1 million price tag on him.
The half time interval came at the right time for the visitors, who came charging out of the blocks in the second half.
Main and Harry Forrester both forced decent saves from the Chesterfield stopper. Goalkeeper Lee was in spectacular form in the second period as he then managed to block efforts from both Main and Ikpeazu as they charged through one-on-one.
Doncaster debutant Ikpeazu was the stand-out man for Rovers, this time unleashing a powerful strike from distance that was only kept out by the woodwork.
At the other end, Chesterfield tried desperately to break down the regimented defence of their opposition.
As the game approached its conclusion, Doncaster seemed more and more content to hold on to their lead as the Spireites had much of the ball but few of the chances.
However, this proved a fatal mistake from the visitors as Chesterfield dramatically found an equaliser with just three minutes of normal time left. Sam Hird’s corner was flicked on by Doyle and it was Ryan who bundled the ball home at the far post.
The home supporters roared the home side forward in the dying moments hoping to see their side steal a winner, but it didn’t come and the two sides shared the spoils at 2-2.
The Chesterfield supporters will definitely be the happier this evening as their side showed great fight whilst Doncaster fans will be left wondering what might have been.
Only time will tell how important this point could prove to be. But for now it ensures the Spireites remain in 5th place and means dreams of the Championship can live on for another week.
Chesterfield 2-2 Doncaster Rovers
Coppinger ‘3, Butler ‘9, Doyle ’43, Ryan ’87
Lee, Darikwa, Raglan, Hird, Jones (Harrison ’46), Morsy, Ryan, Gardner (Evatt ’29), O’Shea (Humphreys ’64), Clucas, Doyle
Bywater, Wabara, Butler, McCullough, Stevens, Coppinger (Bennett ’31 (Tyson ’65)), Keegan, Wellens, Forrester, Main, Ikpeazu (Furman ’73)