Sam Hird’s late header gave Chesterfield an important victory over Walsall on Saturday 28th March 2015.
It was, in truth, a poor quality contest at the Proact Stadium, but Hird’s 86th minute winner was all that mattered for the Spireites as they moved to within two points of the play offs.
Walsall headed to North Derbyshire this afternoon on the back of their first ever trip to Wembley Stadium last weekend for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final. The match had ended in disappointment for Saddlers, who lost 2-0 to League 1 leaders Bristol City – a feeling the Spireites knew only too well after last years final loss in the same competition.
The run to the final of the JPT had been a distraction for Walsall from what had been a disappointing league campaign. Ahead of their visit to Chesterfield, they were just four points above the relegation zone with just one victory from their last eight league outings.
The hosts this afternoon were in incredibly inconsistent form currently and because of this, they sat five points off the play off spots – albeit with a game in hand. After three wins and three defeats in their last six, Chesterfield knew a victory in this match was a must if they were to remain in the play off picture.
Both sides had an early opportunity to open the scoring – Jay O’Shea directing Drew Talbot’s cross over the crossbar before Jordan Cook curled a strike just wide of Tommy Lee’s goal.
But overall the first half was a rather drab affair with neither side offering much threat in the final third.
The deadlock was almost broken courtesy of a fluke! Gary Roberts overhit his cross and bounced off the crossbar before the danger was finally cleared, much to the relief of former Chesterfield ‘keeper Rrichard O’Donnell – who himself connected with the woodwork in the panic, fortunately avoiding any injury.
Walsall were denied by the same crossbar in the second period. A short corner caught out the Spireites defence and Jordy Hiwula-Mayifuila flicked the ball goalwards, only to be kept out by the woodwork.
But the second half wasn’t much better than the first in honesty and the game looked to be heading towards a scoreless draw.
Then, with just four minutes of normal time left, Chesterfield stole a vital three points. Jimmy Ryan’s corner found Hird at the far post, and the defender bundled the ball home to give the Spireites a dramatic victory.
It was a cruel conclusion for the visitors, who probably deserved a point from a poor spectacle that probably should have ended 0-0.
But for the Spireites, it was a huge three points towards their play off push and a win that moves them just two points off 6th place. The dreams of the Championship are still very much alive for Chesterfield!
Chesterfield 1-0 Walsall
Lee, Darikwa, Evatt, Hird, Talbot, Banks (Ariyibi ’62), Morsy, O’Shea (Harrison ’69), Ryan, Roberts (Dieseruvwe ’70), Clucas
O’Donnell, Purkiss, O’Connor, Chambers, Taylor, Mantom, Forde (Cain ’62), Baxendale (Benning ’61), Chambers (Flanagan ’81), Hiwula-Mayifuila, Cook