Chesterfield-born Connor Dimaio scored on his Spireites home debut to help Chesterfield to a 3-1 victory over fellow strugglers Crewe Alexandra.
The hosts got off to a perfect start with two goals in the opening twelve minutes from attacking duo Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Lee Novak.
Zoumana Bakayogo pulled one back for Crewe shortly before the half-hour, but Dimaio’s dream moment early in the second half regained the two-goal advantage and earned the Spireites only their fourth home win of the season.
Chesterfield boss Danny Wilson had urged his players during the week to embrace the pressure of this afternoon’s relegation six-pointer. And the Spireites did just that with a perfect start, opening up a two-goal lead inside just twelve minutes.
It took only seven minutes for Ebanks-Blake to break the deadlock with his ninth goal of the season. Dimaio curled a cross towards the centre and the veteran forward met it with a half-volley that rather fortunately scuffed off the post and over the line.
There was little fortune about the second, however, five minutes later. Some brilliant play down the left from Gboly Ariyibi resulted in a low ball across the face of goal that was stabbed home by Novak to double the advantage.
Despite what the scoreline may have suggested, it wasn’t an entirely dominant start from the home side as Crewe came close to finding the net themselves on a couple of occasions – Tommy Lee forced into a tremendous reaction save from Marcus Haber’s close range header.
But it will have made a nice change for Wilson and the Chesterfield supporters to see that it was their side’s clinical finishing that was proving the early difference – a stark contrast to recent weeks where they have often had more of the chances without being able to put them away.
A growing injury list for the Spireites was added to shortly before the 20-minute mark as Chris Herd limped off to be replaced by Jay O’Shea, whose relegation to the substitute’s bench was ultimately short-lived.
An unusual occurrence this afternoon saw Callum Saunders, the son of the man Chesterfield sacked in December, start for Crewe. And the 20-year-old almost got a small slice of revenge for Dean when he broke through on goal, only to slice his effort wide of the far post.
Moments later though, the Alex were back in the game.
Tommy Lee thought he had averted the danger when his palms were stung by the first effort of Bradden Inman, but the Australian-born midfielder did well to cut the rebound back into the path of Bakayogo who slotted home to make it 2-1.
Despite some sustained Crewe pressure, the Spireites managed to hold their lead until the break and then wasted little time adding to it just eleven minutes after the restart.
Local boy Dimaio made it 3-1 on his home debut with a composed finish from inside the area – the Chesterfield supporting midfielder taking full advantage of a moment he will have dreamt about for many years.
With their two-goal lead restored, the hosts were well and truly back in the ascendancy now – controlling the play and almost adding another in crazy fashion as Ollie Banks cheekily attempted to lob goalkeeper Ben Garratt from around the halfway line.
Crewe boss Steve Davis attempted to change this by turning to his bench, which saw a remarkably young average age of 19, as Charlie Kirk and Callum Ainley joined the action in place of Saunders and goalscorer Bakayogo.
Ainley looked for a second like he would make an immediate impact as he charged into the area before cutting a driven ball across the face of goal, but unfortunately for the 347 travelling supporters there was nobody there to get that all-important final touch.
The visitors continued to search for a way back into the contest as the final ten minutes approached, forcing a couple of corners in the process, but struggled to truly challenge in front of goal.
Oliver Turton broke through on goal but had difficulty getting the ball out of his feet as Lee did well to charge down the attempt. A dangerous cross from Ainley then caused a moment of panic for the home side as Lee was left in no-mans-land, but none of the stretching Crewe attackers could meet the ball at the far post to convert the chance.
But even as the Alex pressure mounted towards the end of the afternoon, Chesterfield showed a great calmness in defence to avoid giving the visitors any hope of a heartbreaking comeback that the Spireites supporters may have come to expect this season!
The full time whistle was greeted with a big cheer as the Spireites celebrated a league double over a side for the first time this season and moved up to 19th in the League 1 table as a result.
Danny Wilson reacted to a first win in six by saying: “It was a very good performance, but that didn’t matter today as long as we picked up the points. We wanted to start brightly as we knew in recent weeks that Crewe have been slow starters, and we took advantage of that.”
Now a point from safety, Chesterfield look ahead to a tricky contest away to 3rd-placed Gillingham. The Spireites boss hopes that recent results can be the start of a run for his side:
“Of course it’s a good four points. Today was obviously a big game for us and hopefully the start of a run. We’re two unbeaten, now lets make it three next week.”
Line-up: Lee, Herd (O’Shea ’19), Hird, Ebanks-Blake (Dieseruvwe ’74), Novak, Dimaio, Anderson, Banks, Talbot, Ariyibi, John
Unused subs: Humphreys, Donohue, Chapman, Simons, Slew
Scorers: Ebanks-Blake ‘7, Novak ’12, Dimaio ’56
Crewe Alexandra (1)
Line-up: Garratt, Turton, Guthrie, Nugent, Haber, Inman, Saunders (Kirk ’59), Fox, Jones, Ajayi, Bakayogo (Ainley ’65)
Unused subs: Richards, Ng, Kearns, Howell, Finney
Scorers: Bakayogo ’27
Date: 20th February 2016
Competition: SkyBet League 1
Attendance: 6264 (347 away)
Referee: Mr Gavin Ward
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