Spireites progress in FA Cup!

The Spireites enjoyed their first visit to the new home of AFC Wimbledon with a decisive 2-0 win over the former FA Cup winners.

A goal just before the interval from the livewire Armando Dobra set the scene nicely and a late worldy from Jeff King was the icing on the cake, a strike that deserves making the effort to watch.

The win was satisfying but even more was the manner of the victory. The Spireites played controlled fluent football throughout and, a huge miss from Harry Pell apart, were never seriously threatened by the home side who failed to find a way  through the resolute Chesterfield rearguard.

Who knows what the Cup draw will bring but the quality of this victory warrants a chance for the team to pit themselves against higher level opponents.

Today’s fixture is the first time the two clubs have ever been drawn together in the FA Cup and was always likely, despite the one division gap in status, to be a competitive clash

Both teams are on top form and remain unbeaten in the last eight outings. While the Spireites have, one brief blip apart, been performing well since the season started the Wombles, initially, struggled to find their feet, after relegation from League One and recorded just two wins in the first 11 fixtures. 

However, manager Johnnie Jackson has tweaked their style and produced a dramatic turnaround as they now sit just five points from a play-off place and, having recently brushed aside League leaders Orient, they look a match for any team in League Two.

Jackson made ten changes for their midweek win over Sutton United in the Papa John’s Trophy which ensured their key players would be fully rested for the FA Cup clash. Ten players who featured in the Dons’ last league game v Tranmere Rovers returned to the starting line-up against the Spireites, confirming how serious a challenge Jackson saw the tie.

Chesterfield had no new injury worries and were buoyed by the news that Akwasi Asante was fit to travel; he had to settle for a place on the bench as did new signing Ash Palmer. 

Paul Cook decided to keep the same starting XI that began in the win over Solihull the previous weekend.

The Spireites, sporting an all-green kit, started the game defending the end that housed the travelling fans. Chesterfield won a free kick in their first attack; King floated over a perfect ball at the far post, Joe Quigley received but was judged marginally offside.

The Spireites continued to push forward with the home side content to break when the opportunity arose.

The Spireites went close just after the quarter-hour mark; Quigley connected well with Jamie Grimes’ ball in from the left. Home keeper Nik Tzanev did well to tip the header to safety. Subsequently Grimes blasted over from Jeff King’s flag kick.

Bailey Clements was fouled just outside the area and Jeff King’s free kick caused danger but floored the Dons’ Harry Pell. The re-start failed to create further promise.

Tyrone Williams took a knock during a defensive clash and play was held up for several minutes. Sadly he was unable to continue and was replaced with new signing Palmer.

The injury disrupted the Spireites’ rhythm briefly as Wimbledon enjoyed their best spell of the game and forced a goal-line clearance from Liam Mandeville.

That dominance was brief as Chesterfield took the lead just before the break. Great inter-play on the left saw Quigley turn provider with a gem of a sideways pass into the box for Dobra to slot coolly home from six yards to maintain Chesterfield’s record of having scored in every game to date.

The second half began under floodlights with the Spireites pushing immediately forward.

Tzanev was forced into a low-down claim from Clements’ ball across the face of goal.

The Dons gained a free-kick 30 yards out but Ethan Chislett’s strong ball across goal couldn’t find a taker.

The Spireites went close after good work from Quigley and Dobra created an opening for King, whose shot was pushed away for a corner. From the kick Mike Jones tried his luck but his blast flew wide of the upright.

Moments later King’s ball into the area had a little too much pace for Quigley to connect with.

A huge let-off for the Spireites saw Pell receive, from the right,  five yards from goal; somehow he managed to sky the ball into the stand.

That miss was made to matter when the Spireites doubled their lead with a quarter of an hour remaining. King received wide on the right, in a seemingly harmless position, saw Tzanev sufficiently out of his goal to try his luck and lobbed from 25 yards into the left top corner. An absolute gem!

Paul Cook immediately made a double substitution as Dobra  and Whelan made way for fresh legs in the shape of Tim Akinola and Jez Uchegbulam with just under ten minutes remaining. Tshimanga took over from Quigley minutes later.

Five minutes were added but the home side failed to cause the Spireites any serious concern as Chesterfield saw the game out comfortably for an impressive win over League opponents.

Chesterfield: Fitzsimons, Grimes, Mandeville, Williams (Palmer 35), Dobra (Uchegbulam 79), King, Oldaker, Quigley (Tshimanga 85), Whelan (Akinola 79), Clements, Jones

Substitutes not used: Chadwick, Horton, Maguire, Sheckleford, Asante

Referee: David Rock

Attendance: 4,176 including 701 Chesterfield supporters