Paddy McFadden scored twice as Scunthorpe United defeated ten-man Chesterfield 3-0 at the Proact Stadium.
The division’s top scorer opened the scoring from the spot just shy of the hour mark after Dan Jones had fouled ex-Spireite Gary McSheffrey.
The defender was shown a straight-red card for the tackle and this proved to be the turning point in what had previously been a very even contest.
McSheffrey doubled the lead against his former club with a superb first time strike before Madden put the icing on the Iron’s cake, making it 3-0 twelve minutes from time.
Despite what the mid-table league standings (9th and 16th) may have suggested, this was in fact a meeting of two sides in decent form.
Both had won three of their last four outings and Dean Saunders’ men in particular appeared to be heading in the right direction, hoping to make it three wins on the bounce and four out of five following a miserable and winless September.
The home fans had been treated to their sides best performance of the campaign on Tuesday as they outclassed Southend United 3-0. And they were hoping for more of the same this afternoon against opponents who had won just one of their previous four visits to Chesterfield’s new home.
The blistering start of Tuesday night, which saw the Spireites open the scoring inside ten minutes, wasn’t repeated but it was the hosts who forced the game’s first save.
Sam Morsy picked out Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, who was searching for a fourth goal in three games, but the striker’s weak effort was comfortably held by Luke Daniels.
Jones’ indirect free kicks have often been a threat for Chesterfield this season and they were once again causing problems, forcing Daniels into a weak punch that landed to Dan Gardner – the midfielder’s resulting effort being deflected wide of the target.
The visitors then had a couple of golden opportunities around the 20 minute mark.
First, an indirect free kick picked out Madden in space at the far post but Tommy Lee did superbly to get down and keep the attempt out. Moments later, McSheffrey was set up with a free diving header from close range but he failed to find the target.
At the other end, Lee Novak found himself in a great position twice in a matter of seconds, but couldn’t cause Daniels any problems on either occasion – an excellent last ditch tackle denying him the second time after sending the first across the face of goal.
It was end to end at the Proact in an action-packed, but somehow goalless first half.
A defensive mix-up saw Tommy Rowe steal possession and set up McSheffrey, who forced another good save from Lee, before Jay O’Shea sent a deflected strike inches over the crossbar at the other end.
The biggest moment of the first half came seven minutes before the break. Lee proved to be Chesterfield’s hero yet again by pulling off a tremendous double save to deny Rowe’s free kick effort and then Murray Wallace from close range on the rebound.
The Spireites ended the first half strongly with a spell of pressure and began the second in similar vein, Novak firing an early tester of the bar.
But four minutes short of the hour, this close contest changed completely.
McSheffrey charged towards goal and tangled legs with Jones – the referee immediately awarding a penalty kick and sending Jones for an early shower.
Madden made no mistake from the spot, sending Lee the wrong way to score his eighth of the season and break the deadlock.
However, history gave the home fans hope as it was Madden who had opened the scoring in the last meeting between the sides at this venue, only for Chesterfield to win the game 4-1!
But there was to be no repeat of that outcome this afternoon. Seven minutes after moving ahead, the Iron doubled their advantage courtesy of McSheffrey’s unstoppable first time effort – the former Spireite showing no mercy as he slid on his knees in front of the home supporters.
O’Shea almost pulled one back with a curling cross-come-shot that bounced just wide of the target before Madden’s close range header forced an instinctive save from Lee to keep out a third.
Irish midfielder O’Shea then came even closer to pulling one back for the hosts when his free kick shook the crossbar with fifteen minutes to go.
But any hopes of a comeback were crushed three minutes later when a deflected strike gave Madden his ninth of the season and sealed the visitors’ victory. The 3-0 scoreline arguably flattered Scunthorpe, but they were good value for the points and moved up four spots as a result.
Iron manager Mark Robins was obviously delighted with the victory and in particular a first away clean sheet of the season. “It was a really good performance and we’ve got to take this on to the rest of the season”, he told the press.
Saunders shared his opposition boss’ delight at the performance of his team, despite the result, saying: ” I don’t have a lot to say about the game, I’ve actually said well done to the players because we played well.”
However, Saunders said he found himself “flabbergasted” by referee Darren England, in particular his decision not to give Scott Wiseman a second yellow card for a hard tackle in the first half: “I’m going to talk to the referee now and ask him why he’s not sent him off”, adding later “the referee’s decided the game today.”
Chesterfield now look ahead to the FA Cup first round draw on Monday before the long trip to 20th placed Fleetwood Town at the weekend.
Line-up: Lee, Herd (O’Neil ’87), Jones (RC), Morsy (Ariyibi ’87), Hird, Gardner, Ebanks-Blake (Simons ’69), O’Shea, Novak, Raglan, Talbot
Unused Subs: Cairns, Banks, Dieseruvwe, Humphreys
Scunthorpe United (3)
Line-up: Daniels, Wiseman (Clarke’58), Laird, Mirfin, Madden, Bishop, King, Rowe, Hopper (Lolley ’82), Wallace, McSheffrey (Williams ’71)
Unused subs: Anyon, McAllister, Van Veen, Henderson
Scorers: Madden ’56 ’78, McSheffrey ’63
Attendance: 6340 (645 away)
Referee: Darren England
Date: Saturday 24th October 2015
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