Ched Evans’ incredible start to life at Chesterfield continued on Tuesday evening as the Welshman scored twice to help the Spireites earn a 2-0 win over Walsall.
Two stunning second half goals from Evans meant the hosts made it a second consecutive home victory and, as a result, moved to the summit of the League 1 table.
Chesterfield arrived at the Proact Stadium on Tuesday evening hoping to achieve something that they had failed to do last season – win back to back games at home!
The visit of Walsall, who shared an identical early season record to the Spireites with a league win and draw accompanied by a League Cup exit, also offered an opportunity of revenge for Danny Wilson’s men. Sam Mantom had struck twice in North Derbyshire back in March to help the Saddlers to a 4-1 victory on a dismal evening for the hosts.
Mantom would not be worrying Wilson and co this evening, moving to fellow League 1 outfit Scunthorpe United in the summer. However, there was one recognisable and potentially threatening name in the opposition line-up in the form of ex-Spireite loanee Frank Moussa.
The home boss decided, unsurprisingly, to name the same starting eleven from Saturday’s comfortable 3-1 win against Swindon Town. This included the dangerous attacking trio of Gboly Ariyibi, Jay O’Shea and Evans – the latter already off to a blistering start with two goals in as many league outings.
A quiet opening to the evening was quickly brought to life in the eleventh minute when Andreas Makris charged forward and turned past Ian Evatt before unleashing a strike that crashed off the crossbar with goalkeeper Ryan Fulton seemingly beaten.
Ariyibi, a standout at the weekend, forced Neil Etheridge into his first save of the evening just shy of the quarter of an hour mark but it was a tame shot that caused the stopper little concern.
From the ‘keeper’s distribution, the Saddlers charged straight down the other end and sent another dangerous strike the on-loan Fulton’s way – this time Moussa lifting an effort just inches over the bar.
Saturday’s goalscorer and man of the match, Evans, did brilliantly to keep the ball alive at the byline and create the Spireites’ best chance of the night so far – squaring to O’Shea in the area, whose first time attempt was parried wide of the target by an outstretched Etheridge.
It was an end-to-end contest and after Walsall full-back Jason McCarthy charged forward and sliced a shot just wide of the near post, Ariyibi went on a run of his own at the other end before finding the side netting with a strongly-hit effort.
The attacking play from both sides continued until the interval but without success and as the referee’s whistle echoed around the floodlit venue, the scoreline remained goalless.
Five minutes on from the restart and it was Chesterfield’s turn to find the woodwork, albeit in less dramatic fashion, as Ian Evatt got on the end of a looping Dan Gardner cross and clipped the outside of the post with a header.
This began a good spell from the Spireites, who upped the intensity in search of that vital opening goal in this tightly contested match.
Evans looked to break the deadlock in the 66th minute with a curled strike from the edge of the area, but it was going to take more than that to beat Etheridge, who comfortably palmed the ball to safety.
The Welshman looked determined to make the difference, however, and in the 75th minute he finally did so in stunning fashion. Picking up the ball some distance from goal, Evans charged past a duo of defenders before unleashing an unstoppable shot past the helpless goalkeeper to make it a third goal in as many league games for the summer signing.
And just four minutes later, Evans had his and the Spireites’ second. There was a hint of fortune about the second goal, which took a big deflection to loop over Etheridge, but neither the player nor the fans cared as the quick-fire double put the hosts truly in the ascendancy and ultimately earned the Derbyshire outfit a second consecutive home victory.
Post-match, a delighted Danny Wilson said: “It was a great performance. Defensively we were fantastic and the second half was really strong. Some terrific football to watch.”
“We’ve got a bit of quality in the squad and a little bit of depth. If we can keep the team fit then we will have a chance to compete.”
Discussing double-goalscorer Evans, the Chesterfield boss said: “He doesn’t give up. When you look at the first goal, his pace and power and the velocity of the shot meant the ‘keeper had no chance. Anybody who can score 20 goals in a season gives the team a chance, but we have other quality players who can chip in with goals too – the likes of O’Shea, Gardner, Ariyibi – I’d like to share it around a bit and not put all the pressure on Ched’s shoulders. But I always feel he’s going to worry defenders.”
The Spireites now look ahead to the weekend when they will travel to Shrewsbury Town, who have picked up only a single point so far, as Wilson’s men look to continue their unbeaten start to the new campaign.
Line-up: Ryan Fulton, Paul McGinn, Sam Hird, Gary Liddle, Ian Evatt, Dan Gardner, Ched Evans (Rai Simons ’90), Jon Nolan, Dion Donohue, Jay O’Shea, Gboly Ariyibi
Unused Subs: Reece Mitchell, Charlie Raglan, Conor Dimaio, Kristian Dennis, Lloyd Allinson, Rai Simons, Derek Daly
Scorers: Ched Evans ’75, ’79
Line-up: Neil Etheridge, Joe Edwards, James O’Connor, Jason McCarthy, George Dobson (Amadou Bakayoko ’77), Simeon Jackson, Kieron Morris (Maz Kouhyar ’85), Liam Kinsella, Mat Preston, Andreas Makris, Frank Moussa (Flo Cuvelier ’69)
Unused subs: Craig MacGillivray, Josh Ginnelly, Kory Roberts, Callum Cockerill-Mollett
Date: 16th August 2016
Attendance: 5406 (478 away supporters)
Competition: League 1
Referee: Mr Graham Salisbury
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