Spireites draw at Weymouth

The 1-1 draw at Weymouth was an eventful game in so many ways. The return of Paul Cook had brought renewed optimism to the club and it was hoped that a win would have taken the Spireites back to the top of the table.

Instead, a lacklustre first half showing saw the teams level at the start of the second period and Chesterfield stepped up a gear and took the lead thanks to a great strike from Alex Whittle.

The Spireites looked to be seeing out the game comfortably when Haji Mnoga made the rest of the proceedings seem irrelevant. His tackle on Kabongo Tshimanga saw the striker stretchered off after receiving oxygen for the pain. 

Things went from bad to worse when Ahkeem Rose levelled, from 15 yards, in added time after Fraser Kerr had lost possession and there just wasn’t enough time left to find a winner.

The fixture at the Bob Lucas Stadium was just another long away game a few days ago but after an incredible Tuesday night at Edgeley Park, the mood was set. An amazing game of football that captured every emotion ended with elation and pride after the team battled through, a man short for most of the second half, to earn a deserved draw and stay just one point behind Stockport with a game in hand.

Two days later when the news was announced that Paul Cook was to return as manager with Danny Webb as his assistant the positive mood grew.

Cook will have known that the Terras, despite being in a relegation spot and picking up just two points from the previous five games, needed a good result just as much as the Spireites but for different reasons.

The events during the week will have made many more fans think a trip to the Dorset seaside was worth the journey to welcome Cook home; for sure the support will be constant; Cook will have wanted the performance to match.

The Spireites made two changes from the midweek starting line-up: Calvin Miller and Jim Kellermann replaced the injured Luke Croll and the suspended Jeff King.

The conditions were almost perfect at kick-off with the pitch playing true and just a light breeze. The 500 plus travelling Spireites were in great voice as they greeted the team onto the pitch.

Weymouth kicked off but the Spireites quickly gained possession and pushed forward and went close after a move started by an Akwasi Asante back-heel ended with a Liam Mandeville blast from close range that forced an alert save from ex-Spireite keeper Ross Fitzsimons.

The Terras were looking lively and Tom Bearish tried his luck from the edge of the area but it was an easy claim for Scott Loach.

It was real end-to-end stuff as the Spireites went close again from a move started by Asante and ended as first Jim Kellermann and moments later Tshimanga had close range shots well blocked by Fitzsimons.

Weymouth were making a real game of things and may not have had the clear-cut chances but were enjoying a large share of the ball and saw one move end with new signing Harvey Bunker try a shot from range that didn’t test Loach.

The Spireites broke and Asante was agonisingly close as he tried to bend the ball inside the post from just inside the penalty area, sadly his effort was inches wide.

Weymouth continued to threaten and Bearwish decided to have a hit from thirty yards; it was wide of Loach’s left upright…..but only just.

All level at the interval but the Spireites hadn’t bossed the half and were lucky that the Terras lacked confidence in front of goal to capitalise on their possession. The big chances had fallen to the Spireites but they’d been thwarted by in-form Fitzsimons who had met the challenges head on.

Chesterfield started the second period, kicking towards their own fans, knowing that they needed to up the tempo if they were going to get the needed breakthrough.

An astute ball from Jim Kellermann found Tshimanga who controlled well and strode forward but his final ball lacked direction.

Asante jinked and turned in the box and Tyler Cordner happily put the ball to safety for the Spireites’ first corner of the game. It came to nothing and typified the lack of sparkle.

Manny Oyeleke received a knock and was replaced by Curtis Weston.

A super ball in from the left wing by Calvin Miller was destined for Tshimanga in the six-yard box, he was inches away from connecting.

The Spireites made their second change as Saidou Khan replaced Calvin Miller as Danny Webb looked for little more energy and bite in the middle of the park. It paid instant dividends.

The breakthrough finally arrived from one of the least likely sources. Whittle made a run on the left and burst into the box, received and, without hesitation, fired a tight angled shot into the bottom corner off the post.

Immediately the spark was back and Khan fed Tshimanga on the edge of the six-yard box. His rushed shot bobbled and lacked power.

Tshimanga was on the receiving end of an awful tackle from Haji Mnoga and had to be taken off on a stretcher. Joe Quigley took his place. 

The injury resulted in 12 added minutes which would inevitably be nervy as Weymouth pressed and made strong claims for a penalty that ended with a yellow card for substitute Ahkeem Rose.

Moments later the same player followed up and hit home after Kerr lost possession.

It was a crazy, action-packed last few minutes but there was to be no late winner as the Terras held out well for a share of the points.

Chesterfield FC: Loach, Miller (Khan 68), Grimes, Kellermann, McCourt, Oyeleke (Weston 58), 58Mandeville, Asante, Tshimanga (Quigley 87)

Substitutes not used: Williams, Rowley

Attendance: 1,299