Victory at Oldham

The Spireites won 2-0 at Oldham Athletic following goals from Joe Quigley and Jeff King early on in the game.

It’s fair to say that wins at Oldham are a rare occurrence but this performance will stand out as the most decisive in living memory.

Most would have expected a tough game after enforced changes had added to the challenge but the Spireites passed their way to a quality performance and a scoreline that flattered the home side.

Two goals to the good after eight minutes, more looked certain to follow. The fact that didn’t happen was down to a mixture of good defending, quality goalkeeping and possibly rushing the many opportunities.

Oldham battled well but never really had a spell of dominance. So many players looked the part: Quigley was outstanding, Tyrone Williams immense, Jack Clarke and Liam Mandeville ran at the home defence at will with King also a constant threat. The three substitutes all played their part, but new signing Tim Akinola looks an absolute gem who makes the difficult look simple.

Rivalry between the two clubs goes back well over a century to football’s tier two and the Latics hold the upper hand in terms of historic results including undefeated in the last six league fixtures (all in EFL League One). Since then, footballing fortunes haven’t been kind to either club with both suffering turbulent times and eventual demotion from the Football League.

Oldham have made a solid start to their campaign at this level with two home wins to date and four points from six over the Bank Holiday, the Spireites managed maximum points the same weekend, having come from behind at Altrincham with a quick double strike at the beginning of the second period.

Of course, history counts for little and Paul Cook knows that ex-Spireites’ boss, John Sheridan will have his squad fully motivated to put on a strong performance and look to “get one over” the current league leaders and his old employers.

The team news will have been more eagerly awaited than normal after the double injury blow last Monday and the nervous wait two days ago to find whether Kabongo Tshimanga remained a Spireite. Neither Akwasi Asante or Armando Dobra were ready to return, as a result Calvin Miller and Clarke claimed their places in the starting XI. Tshimanga hadn’t travelled with the squad. New loan signing from Arsenal, Akinola, started on the bench.

The Spireites, sporting an all-green kit, defended the end packed with another great away following; they immediately had something to cheer. From the kick-off the build-up was fluent and methodical but the Latics gave away a throw-in on the left. From the ball in the home keeper looked to have possession but lost control. His error was pounced on by the alert Quigley who hit home just inside the right upright.

Within the next two minutes King hit wide of the left upright and Miller hit strongly from wide and forced Magnus Norman to save low down.

Oldham pushed forward without creating serious threat and from the break Chesterfield went further ahead. The Spireites burst forward in numbers and a super move involving Miller and Mandeville saw King pick up the perfect cut-back from Miller and slot coolly home.

Oldham were enjoying significant possession but were being marshalled well, although the Spireites defence was forced into conceding three corners in quick succession, one of which required Covolan to push to safety.

Top scorer Hallam Hope tried a chip from the edge of the area that, thankfully, hit only the netting.

Ex-Spireite Mike Fondop was having a frustrating afternoon, earlier he’d been put through but dispossessed, failed to connect with two great header opportunities and just failed to meet the perfect diagonal pass from Charlie Wellens.

Another ex-Spireite, Dan Gardner, had looked lively and hit well from distance on a couple of occasions. It’s likely that one of those efforts aggravated an existing knock and he had to be substituted after just 34 minutes.

Some great interplay saw Mandeville provide Clarke with a great ball in from the right; what should have been a straightforward header home from close range ended up looking more like a defensive clearance.

Moments later a dream through ball from Darren Oldaker found Mandeville who forced Norman into an alert save low down.

Fondop spotted an opening and threaded a gem of a pass for Ben Tollitt to run onto; Covolan narrowed the angle as Tollitt blasted into the side netting.

The half ended as it started with Chesterfield retaining possession well and Clarke feeding Mandeville in the area, but the ball ran a little too fast and couldn’t be controlled.

Overall a very pleasing first half showing…..both “on the eye” and the welcome advantage.

Williams picked up a knock in the half’s first move; he required treatment but looked quickly back to his usual self.

Hope shook his head for the second time in the half as he ran through and was given offside, the first call looked correct but the second could be debated.

Williams was judged to have fouled 25 yards out, the kick from substitute Charlie Cooper was wayward.

The Spireites, when they broke, posed immediate threat and should have gone three ahead when Quigley was provided with a peach of a pass just outside the six-yard area but couldn’t control and Norman gratefully claimed.

The Spireites made their first change just after the hour-mark as Jez Uchegbulam replaced Miller; he immediately added an extra spark in attack and was unlucky that his quality ball across goal just couldn’t find a green shirt. Five minutes later, Akinola made his debut for the club as he replaced the impressive Clarke.

The Latics were always looking for a gap and Tollitt’s effort from distance flew over the crossbar.

Moments later, Quigley received in the area and positioned himself well, but his angled effort flew wide.

With 15 minutes to go after some great interplay, Ollie Banks tried his luck from 35 yards, wide on the left; his effort was just inches away from the top right corner.

Oldham continued to press but were harried and chased for every ball. One promising through ball looked reachable by substitute Junior Luamba but Covolan timed his claim perfectly.

Paul Cook made his final change as Michael Gyasi took over from Oldaker with seven minutes remaining with the intention of putting yet more pressure on the home defence.

In added time, Mandeville jinked deep into the box and brought a narrow angled save from Norman.

A stunning pass from Akinola found Gyasi on the edge of the area, his effort was happily put away for another flag-kick and from the dead ball Banks had two great openings to deservedly add to the scoreline.

Chesterfield: Covolan, Horton, Grimes, Mandeville, Clarke (Akinola 65), Williams, King, Miller (Uchegbulam 61), Oldaker (Gyasi 83), Quigley, Banks

Substitutes not used: Maguire, Jones

Referee: Lewis Smith

Attendance: 7,852 (1,469)