The Spireites thoroughly deserved their place in Round 3 of the Emirates FA Cup after beating League Two side Salford City 2-0 on their own patch.
Apart from a brief spell at the start of the second period, they looked comfortable throughout and scored two quality goals to seal the win.
Liam Mandeville’s screamer, in off the crossbar, gave the Spireites just the boost they needed and the superb second from Jim Kellermann came at the perfect moment to deflate the hosts as they pushed strongly to get back on level terms.
Chesterfield had never before faced Salford in the FA Cup, so whatever the result a little bit of history will have been made today.
Our previous and only other appearance at the Peninsula Stadium came, in 2018, at the beginning of our time in the National League when we narrowly lost a five goal thriller in the summer sunshine.
Both teams came into the game on a good run of form; Salford lost two on the bounce but since then are unbeaten in six over three competitions and the Spireites haven’t tasted defeat in ten outings.
As a result of Covid in the Maidenhead dressing room, the team had an 11-day break from fixtures. For the previous game, versus Altrincham, such was the injury situation, James Rowe was only able to field four substitutes.
For the FA Cup, seven are permitted on the bench (five changes allowed) and today he was able to name just one less than the maximum.
There were just two changes named to the Altrincham starting XI; Tyrone Williams was cup-tied and Saidou Khan wasn’t risked; Calvin Miller came straight in from suspension and Fraser Kerr resumed after injury.
Thankfully the extreme Saturday weather was behind us and the conditions were perfect for Cup football.
Salford started the game but their planned initiative didn’t work as Fraser Kerr picked up and cleared well.
Scott Loach got an early touch as Scott Morris’ free-kick from just outside the area lacked power and was easily claimed.
Kibongo Tshimanga got his first connection in the seventh minute from a high ball into the box, his head got a touch but he nobody else was able to capitalise.
The Spireites almost went ahead after Luke Croll connected superbly with a well-hit corner from Miller but King managed to push away.
Brandon Thomas-Asante went on a great run and was felled twenty yards out. Josh Morris’s second free kick was better than his first but Loach fumbled his catch; the corner came to nothing.
A quick break saw Ibou Touray burst down the left. He was brought down and Jordan Turnbull’s header from the free kick brought another flag-kick.
It was agonisingly close for the Spireites moments later when Alex Whittle’s sprint to the by-line produced a great angled ball in that was screaming for a taker but sadly nobody was available.
The breakthrough came moments later when Mandeville picked up a central nothing ball 22 yards out and let fly to claim a screamer of a goal and put the Spireites into a deserved lead.
Thomas-Asante was proving to be the main City danger man, he dispossessed Jamie Grimes well, wide on the right, and ran strongly into the area but Croll tackled well and cleared to safety.
Next up was Matthew Lund who tried his luck from distance. Loach read it well and punched away.
Whittle again caused danger with another angled ball into the six-yard box, again no takers.
The Ammies pushed hard to get back on level terms before the break but couldn’t carve out a clear opening and the Spireites easily saw out the one added minute.
The noisy travelling support greeted the team back as they were now kicking towards the Chesterfield fans.
Salford were fired up and grabbed an early corner. From the well struck dead ball kick from Liam Shepherd it looked like Ash Eastham was set to touch home but he was inches away as the ball flashed by.
Saidou Khan replaced Croll who had picked up a knock.
The Spireites had started the half slowly but within ten minutes of the re-start were back on track with Kerr and Grimes looking so cool at the back.
A great ball in from the left found Tshimanga, but sadly the pace on the ball was too much to do anything more than get a light touch to it.
Two testing long throws in quick succession from Donald Love were defended well with Grimes, again, so alert to the danger.
Kellermann controlled well and tried a speculative shot that flew wide of King’s left upright.
With ten minutes to go, Gary Bowyer threw caution to the wind and made a triple substitution as they looked to find a way back into the game.
Turnbull went close for the home side and forced Loach into a superb save, from the next ball substitute Aramide Oteh blasted wastefully wide.
Moments later it was 2-0 as Kellermann found himself in the tightest space on the right of the six-yard box, picked up the pass from Tshimanga and out of nothing blasted home into the top corner to double the advantage and send the Spireites’ supporters into raptures.
The four minutes additional time was seen out comfortably to give Chesterfield a well deserved progression over EFL opposition into the third round of the FA Cup.
The noise level from the fans matched the performance level of the team and how they celebrated at the final whistle. Make no mistake, the neutrals watching at home on TV will have found it hard to believe that the winning side wasn’t the Football League team. Let’s hope this win provides the springboard to make it come true.
Chesterfield: Loach, Kerr, Grimes, Croll (Khan), Whittle, Weston, Oyeleke, Miller, Kellerman, Mandeville (Clarke), Tshimanga (Payne)
Unused Subs: Minter, Tyson, McCourt
Attendance: 1,997 (945)