MATCH REPORT: Chesterfield 0 Fleetwood Town 0
Fleetwood battled and scrapped but could not find a way past Spireites keeper Tommy Lee as they drew 0-0 with Chesterfield at the Proact Stadium.
The grey skies were livened up by Town’s luminous yellow shirts as both sides trudged through the wind and rain to grab a vital point.
It could have been a different story had referee Nigel Miller awarded the hosts a penalty early in the first half.
Lee Novak ran one-on-one with Town keeper Chris Maxwell and tumbled over in the box as he nipped the ball past the on-running Maxwell.
Novak and the crowd appealed for a penalty but Miller ruled that Novak had not been tripped and booked the striker for simulation.
Novak missed a sitter just before half-time as he failed to hit the target when Jay O’Shea put the ball on a plate for the unmarked striker who was just six yards out with the goal at his mercy.
Fleetwood’s patched up and make-shift side dominated the second 45 but could not find that all important breakthrough goal despite a lively cameo by young striker Keano Deacon and some storming runs by Ash Hunter.
It was Town’s first clean sheet in eight games and sees the 19th-placed side maintain their three point cushion from the League One drop zone after 21st-placed Oldham drew 0-0 with Burton Albion earlier today.
It was a plucky point aided by a man-of-the-match performance by returning centre-back Stephen Jordan who played out of his skin to help Town secure a point.
Chesterfield are still two points ahead of Steven Pressley’s men but the result stops a run of three consecutive defeats and was a gritty and solid performance despite a flurry of changes to the starting line-up.
Town boss Pressley was forced to make five changes for the clash but his youthful and short side took the game in their stride.
Defender Joe Davis and forward Shola Ameobi both missed out due to injury whilst midfielder Eggert Jonsson moved to the bench.
Conor McLaughlin and Wes Burns were both away on international duty for Northern Ireland and the Welsh U-21 side.
So on-loan Sheffield United midfielder Stefan Scougall was handed his first start for the club.
On-loan Everton forward David Henen had recovered from a hamstring injury to return to the starting line-up whilst striker Hunter was recalled.
Defenders Jordan and Tyler Forbes both returned to the starting XI with McLaughlin and Davis unavailable.
Midfielder Antoni Sarcevic came off the bench in last Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat to Barnsley but was not fit enough to be named in the squad today.
Talismanic centre-back Nathan Pond was fit enough to be named on the bench but did not make an appearance.
Forbes was called into action early on as he made a terrific challenge to thwart O’shea in the six-yard box as he slid in to clear the ball off the Chesterfield striker’s toes in the fourth minute.
Ash Hunter steamed down the right wing three minutes later, his cross fizzed across the box but just missed a bunch of yellow shirts and fell to Amari’i Bell in space on the left of the box but his low effort was just deflected wide.
Hunter spun on the ball but as he tried to shake off a Chesterfield player he lost the ball in his own half and the Spireites broke.
Sam Hird slipped the ball to Lee Novak who beat the offside trip and ran one-on-one with Maxwell.
He knocked the ball past the keeper on the left hand side of the box and tumbled to the ground as Maxwell neared.
It was a huge decision for referee Nigel Miller but fortunately for Fleetwood he ruled that Novak had not been tripped and showed him a yellow card for simulation.
Hunter was booked for sliding in on Drew Talbot on the left wing in the 17th minute and fortunately O’Shea’s teasing set-piece fell to Forbes in the six-yard box and he hoofed it away.
Chris Herd tried his luck from distance but his speculative shot flew over the bar and up towards the travelling Cod Army behind the goal.
The Spireites looked a constant danger up front and they cut through Town like a hot knife through butter at times but like Fleetwood, they could not find that all important goal.
Talbot lifted a splendid ball through to O’Shea who slipped the ball inside from the right to find the run of the unmarked Ollie Banks.
Banks left Nilsson stranded on the floor as he ghosted past him but should have done better when he eventually pulled the trigger as he curled the ball over the bar.
Banks was booked for pulling Henen back just yards outside the penalty box and Town tried a move straight off the training ground with the subsequent set-piece.
Rather than attempt to curl it over the wall Town tried to ping the ball around the box with a precise routine.
The move almost came off as Grant slid the ball to Ball but the striker over-hit his first time pass and Chesterfield managed to smother the danger.
Henen’s cross from the left flew across the six-yard box but was tipped away by Lee as Town’s short side grew into the game and started to dominate possession.
Hunter whipped the ball in from the right but his cross had too much height on it for diminutive midfielder Grant who leapt as high as he could but could only get a slight touch on the ball unmarked in the six yard box and it flew wide.
Hunter again found himself steaming down the right, he whipped in yet another tantalising cross but David Ball just could not reach it and get the all important final touch with the goal at his mercy.
O’Shea blasted the ball over but Chesterfield should have taken the lead on the stroke of half-time.
Gboly Ariyibi whipped a delightful cross from the left into the path of the unmarked O’Shea at the back stick who unselfishly nodded the ball across goal into the path of Novak who inexplicably failed to hit the target.
Novak was less than six-yards out with just Maxwell to beat but he tried to be fancy and flicked the ball wide of the right post and wasted a golden opportunity to open the scoring.
Chesterfield made an attacking substitution at the start of the second half as Herd was replaced by on-loan Sheffield United player Jamal Campbell-Ryce.
But despite the hosts positive substitution it was Fleetwood who had the better start with Ball looking a threat, Henen firing wide of the left post and Forbes drilling the ball just wide of the right post.
Ryan pounced on a poor Chesterfield clearance but he could not break the deadlock against his former club as he powered the ball over the bar.
O’Shea went close in the 57th minute after some neat play by Campbell-Ryce. Bell lost the ball in Chesterfield’s half and the striker released O’Neil to sprint into the gap left by Bell. The defender slid the ball inside from the right to O’Shea and his right-footed shot just skimmed over the bar.
In the 60th minute Pressley withdrew Grant and introduced Devante Cole. The striker joined Hunter and Henen in a front three with Ball slipping back into midfield.
Henen’s strike from distance rolled comfortably into Lee’s arms and Fleetwood ripped open Chesterfield’s defence moments later.
Hunter again cruised down the right flank, teed-up Ball who ran to the back line and cut the ball back towards the back post but unfortunately Cole had made the wrong run and opted to sprint to the near post leaving Ball’s neat cross fizzing towards open space on the left and a blue shirt.
Ryan’s free-kick missed a host of yellow shirts and flew straight into the arms of Lee in the 65th minute as Town pressed for an opener.
Ball lost the ball in his own half on the right flank and Chesterfield managed to whip a cross into the mix but fortunately Novak’s glancing header flew off target.
Striker Deacon came off the bench to make his first Town appearance in the 71st minute as he replaced Henen and he impressed as he probed the hosts defence.
But it was not all Town as Chesterfield showed flashes of menace.
Ariyibi’s shot was deflected wide and the subsequent corner was nodded over the stand by Fleetwood and O’shea’s corner was nodded way wide by the bandaged up head of defender Hird as they tried to find a way past Maxwell.
Ball’s shot from the edge of the box just dipped over the bar and Bell’s cross from the left was hit first time by Hunter but looped straight at Lee.
Cole cut the ball back from the back line into the path of Deacon but the ball bobbled and he hammered it down and wide in the 89th minute.
Town threw everything forward as the clock ticked on but they could not find the breakthrough goal and had to settle for a point.
Fleetwood: Maxwell, Forbes, Jordan, Nilsson, Bell, Ryan, Scougall (Jonsson, 82), Grant (Cole, 60), Hunter, Ball, Henen (Deacon, 71). Subs not used: Gogic, Pond, Nirennold, Haughton.
Chesterfield: Lee, Herd (Campbell-Ryce, 46) Hird, O’Shea (Ebanks-Blake, 81), Novak (Slew, 87), O’Neil, Liddle, Anderson, Banks, Talbot, Ariyibi. Subs not used:, Humphreys, Raglan, Chapman, Orrell.
Attendance: 6,435 (153)
Referee: Nigel Miller (County Durham)