Chesterfield took a major blow to their play off dreams with a 3-2 defeat to strugglers Coventry City on Saturday 14th March 2015.
Despite finding the net in either half courtesy of Jay O’Shea and late substitute Gboly Ariyibi, the Spireites fell to a third home defeat out of four as Marcus Tudgay, Sanmi Odelusi and Frank Nouble all scored for the Sky Blues in an entertaining encounter.
It was a day of firsts for Coventry, who picked up their first victory under experienced new manager Tony Mowbray on their first ever visit to the Proact Stadium.
This Saturday afternoon contest saw two sides from opposite ends of the table go head to head.
The visitors Coventry were once again finding life in the third tier tough and sat just two points clear of the drop zone, the having failed to pick up a victory since the end of February.
For reigning League 2 champions Chesterfield it was a very different story. Their season had already exceeded the expectations of many fans, some of whom even feared a repeat of the immediate relegation that happened last time they had lifted the fourth divison title.
Instead, a play-off spot was still within touching distance and the Spireites had managed to put an end to a blip that saw four consecutive defeats by earning victories in their last two.
Understandably, this made the home side favourites against the 1987 FA Cup winners. But as everybody knows, football matches are not won on paper and the visitors made this point clear as they got off to the perfect start, opening the scoring inside ten minutes.
A long ball into the box was met by Tudgay and the former Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday man jumped highest to unleash a powerful header past Tommy Lee, giving the Sky Blues an early one goal lead.
Chesterfield instantly went searching for a response, firing shots from all angles. On-loan Caolan Lavery thought he’d found the equaliser when his strike was spilled by the goalkeeper, but Lee Burge just managed to get enough on it to push the ball wide of the target.
With three minutes to go until the interval, Chesterfield were back on level terms. After some typical twisting and turning from Gary Roberts, the playmaker found O’Shea on the edge of the area. The Irishman’s shot took a huge deflection, leaving the keeper with no hope as the ball hit the net meaning the teams were level at the break
The two sides battled at the start of the second period as they each searched for the advantage in a game that they desperately wanted to win.
And it was the visitors who found it. Grant Ward, on-loan from Tottenham, flashed the ball across goal and Odelusi was there to take advantage and put Coventry back in front with the simplest of finishes from close range.
Just ten minutes later, Coventry added a third. Roberts tried to be too clever with a pass to veteran Ritchie Humphreys. And forward Nouble took full advantage, stealing possession and racing through on goal, before calmly slotting the ball home and charging over to celebrate with the travelling supporters behind the net
There wasn’t very long left for the Spireites to stage a fightback, but they gave themselves a glimmer of hope in the 85th minute when some neat build up play eventually saw the ball fall to Gboly Ariyibi – the young substitute making no mistake in firing past Burge to reduce the deficit to one.
But Chesterfield never truly looked like finding an equaliser. In fact, it was Coventry who had the ball in the net yet again in injury time, but Adam Barton’s effort was quickly ruled out for offside.
There was a huge difference in the feelings of the fans as the full time whistle bellowed around the Proact Stadium.
For Coventry, there was huge delight as this away victory – only their second of 2015 – kept their hopes of survival well and truly alive. Manager Tony Mowbray will have felt particular delight, finally gaining up his first win as manager of the Sky Blues and witnessing an impressive performance to go with it.
In contrast, a narrow defeat put another dent in Chesterfield’s hopes of a top six finish. Their fifth defeat in seven outings meant they slipped to 11th place, five points off sixth place with Barnsley.
However, with a game in hand there is still plenty of reasons for Chesterfield fans to be hopeful and regardless of a top six finish, in truth it has still been a magnificent season for the Derbyshire club.
Chesterfield 2–3 Coventry City
Tudgay ‘9, O’Shea ’42, Odelusi ’65, Nouble ’75, Ariyibi ’85
Lee, Darikwa, Evatt (Dieseruvwe ’84), Hird, Jones (Humphreys 46),Ryan, Banks (Ariyibi ’70), O’Shea, Roberts. Clucas, Lavery
Burge, Willis, Pennington, Martin, Stokes, Ward, Fleck, Barton, Tudgay, Nouble (Jackson ’90), Samuel (Oodelusi ’59)