League 1 strugglers Colchester United were hit for six on Tuesday 14th April 2015 as Chesterfield ran riot at the Proact Stadium.
The Spireites raced into a 3-0 lead after less than 20 minutes courtesy of goal from Gary Roberts and a Sam Clucas brace.
Dan Gardner and Jimmy Ryan made it five in the second half. Roberts then fired home from the penalty spot to round off a record-breaking victory at the new ground.
Chesterfield headed into the final evening game of the regular season on a tremendous run. Six wins and a draw in their last seven matches had propelled the Spireites into a play off position – four points clear of nearest challengers Rochdale.
But tonight’s visitors Colchester needed a win just as much as the hosts did.
The U’s sat in 23rd position and were battling for their League 1 lives. Only 3 points separated them from safety, so a victory this evening would be a big step towards survival. And it certainly wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility as they travelled to North Derbyshire in decent form with three wins from their last five outings.
It was the away side that got this important contest underway and they quickly forced the first save – Tommy Lee having to be at full stretch to deny Gavin Massey’s shot.
But this proved to be a rare highlight on a disappointing evening for Colchester United.
Roberts broke the deadlock for Chesterfield after just six minutes. Drew Talbot found the midfielder from the wing and, after a touch to bring the ball down, he rifled an unstoppable effort past Chris Lewington.
Two goals in the space of a minute then put the Spireites firmly in the ascendancy.
Some fabulous passing football from the Spireites left the visitors chasing shadows, and this style led to the second goal.
Dan Gardner picked the ball up on the wing and, after some twisting and turning, picked out Clucas. The former Mansfield Town man duly fired a first-time strike into the top corner to double the lead
And Clucas, the number 12, quickly bagged his 12th of the season. Just seconds after the restart, Jay O’Shea stole possession and played a neat ball through for the forward to charge on lift the ball over the helpless keeper.
The Spireites were 3-0 ahead in under 20 minutes and therefore in a highly joyous mood. But there was a small dent in the celebratory atmosphere as Talbot was forced off the field due to injury. Coming little more than a month after returning from a lengthy absence for the same reason, this was naturally a cause of worry for the supporters.
But regardless of this, Chesterfield remained in total control and continued to bombard the U’s in search of more goals.
Clucas was denied a hat trick by a Lewington save at the end of the first half, but the bombardment continued well into the second period.
Gardner had a couple of great chances to score his first of the season in a Chesterfield shirt, firing an effort just wide before coming even closer soon after – his goal-bound effort blocked on the line by Tom Eastman.
Then, with 58 minutes on the clock, Gardner finally got his goal. It was a hopeful shot from distance that looked to be a comfotable catch for the ‘keeper, but disaster struck for Lewington as he let it slip through his hands and into the net
And as they had done in the first half, Chesterfield once again found the net twice in quick succession.
Hitting Colchester on the break from a corner, a neat one-two between Gardner and Ryan left the latter through on goal and he made no mistake to score his fourth of the season and the Spireites’ fifth of the night
With only an hour gone and the score 5-0, it was anybody’s guess how big the scoreline could get.
Roberts and Gboly Ariyibi were denied by excellent saves as the domination continued. But as the clock ticked down it looked as if Chesterfield would be unable to add to their 5-0 advantage.
Then, with 6 minutes to go, Roberts was brought down in the area and awarded a spot kick. He was quickly back up and fired the ball home to put the icing on Chesterfield’s cake.
It was one of the most complete performances in the club’s history and one that opitimised the style of football played by the club this season. The 6-0 victory also broke the record for a Chesterfield victory at the new stadium – so certainly a day to remember!
A seven point lead on 7th placed Rochdale had opened up following tonight’s results. With only three Chesterfield games left, this means a play off position is now looking likely – although with ‘Dale still having a game in hand, it is not yet fully secure.
Meanwhile, its’s worrying times for Colchester fans. Tonight’s thumping meant things remained the same at the bottom, with the U’s three points from safety. However, this performance will leave the fans wondering if they have what it takes to survive.
We’ve reached the real business end of the season now and for these two sides, the final three games of the campaign are absolutely massive.
Chesterfield 6–0 Colchester United
Roberts ‘6 ’84 (pen), Clucas ’16 ’17, Gardner ’58, Ryan ’60
Lee, Darikwa, Hird, Evatt, Talbot (Jones ’26), Ryan, Morsy, Gardner (Ariyibi ’62), O’Shea, Roberts, Clucas (Banks ’77)
Lewington, Wynter (Brindley ’46), Khumalo, Eastman, Briggs, Massey, Moncur, Gilbey, Lapslie (Szmodics ’46), Murphy (Healey ’46), Porter