Chesterfield moved a point closer to securing League 1 survival with a 1-1 draw against Doncaster Rovers at the Proact Stadium.
Doncaster headed to North Derbyshire in desperate need of a victory to keep their own hopes of staying up alive and got off to the perfect start when Tommy Rowe fired home from a corner in the sixth minute.
But Gboly Ariyibi’s 18th minute leveller was ultimately enough to earn the Spireites a draw that moves them on to the vital 50-point mark and five points clear of relegation with just three games remaining.
The final of a trio of local derbies for Chesterfield provided the Spireites with an opportunity to quickly move on from Saturday’s hugely disappointing 3-0 defeat to Sheffield United at the weekend as struggling Doncaster Rovers visited the Proact Stadium.
Darren Ferguson’s side had picked up just seven points in the whole of 2016 prior to Saturday’s action and looked a certainty for relegation. But an unexpected 3-1 win against league leaders Wigan Athletic three days ago had provided them with a glimmer of hope as they sat six points from safety with six games left.
It was still a huge task however, and victory this evening was absolutely paramount against a Chesterfield side who knew a draw would see them reach the 50-point mark that, while not a guarantee, is generally associated with third tier survival.
Just over 900 supporters made the trip from South Yorkshire and they were quickly given something to shout about when their side opened the scoring inside six minutes.
Danny Wilson will have been very disappointed with the manner of the goal as an early corner picked out Rowe unmarked and the 26-year-old loanee duly side-footed past Tommy Lee to kick off chants of “we are staying up” from the away fans at the opposite end.
The ten minutes or so that followed were largely dominated by the visitors and it looked like there could be a repeat of Saturday’s derby action at the Proact until Ariyibi found an equaliser against the run of play in the 18th minute.
Jay O’Shea’s initial strike was palmed away by the goalkeeper straight into the path of the USA U-23 international, who slotted the rebound in off the post to level the game.
The remainder of the half was an entertaining, end-to-end affair. Ariyibi caused numerous problems for the Rovers backline and earned himself a round of applause for a great piece of skill to charge past two defenders and into the area.
The goalscorer had a chance to double his tally when a half-cleared corner was whipped back in by Jamal Campbell-Ryce and on to the head of Ariyibi, who was unable to keep his effort down.
However, comfortably the best chance to regain the lead in the first half fell to Doncaster shortly before the break. A cross to the far post picked out Andy Williams in space but with the goal at his mercy, the forward somehow headed the ball wide of the target.
While the first period had been relatively even, the second half was almost entirely dominated by Doncaster.
The visitors had the ball in the net early after the restart, but it was ruled out for a foul on Ollie Banks, and from there Doncaster piled the pressure on the Spireites’ defence without creating too many clear-cut chances.
A draw was far more useful for the Spireites than their opponents and this quickly became clear as the hosts appeared to settle for that outcome, to the frustration of a few of the home supporters, and despite plenty of pressure they managed to weather the Doncaster storm and move another point towards staying in League 1.
Despite only picking up a point and now sitting five points from safety with three games to go, Darren Ferguson remained positive stating: “Other results have gone our way so we’re still in with a chance.”
Meanwhile, Chesterfield boss Danny Wilson cut a frustrated figure and insisted his side were still not safe:
“There’s a nervousness at home but a couple of results have gone for us and we have another point on the board. It’s a difficult season for the club. They’re not the players we had last season. Get over it.”
“We’re not safe yet, if you think like that you can be punished. The time now is to stick together and get over the line”
Line-up: Tommy Lee, Sam Hird, Gary Liddle, Jay O’Shea (Chris Herd ’90), Lee Novak, Jamal Campbell-Ryce (Sylvan Ebanks-Blake ’74), Charlie Raglan, Tom Anderson, Ollie Banks, Drew Talbot, Gboly Ariyibi
Unused Subs: Connor Dimaio, Dion Donohue, Aaron Chapman, Rai Simons, Jordan Slew
Scorers: Gboly Ariyibi ’18
Doncaster Rovers (1)
Line-up: Remi Matthews, Mitchell Lund, Cedric Evina, Luke McCullough, Andy Butler, Gary McSheffrey, Richard Chaplow (Riccardo Calder ’82), Andy Williams (Nathan Tyson ’82), Tommy Rowe, James Coppinger, Craig Alcock
Unused Subs: Thorsten Stuckmann, Aaron Taylor-Sinclair, Liam Mandeville, Cameron Stewart, Harry Middleton
Scorers: Tommy Rowe ‘6
Date: 19th April 2016
Competition: League 1
Attendance: 6461 (905 away)
Referee: Mr Jeremy Simpson