City succumbed to their first defeat in six games on a grey and blustery day at the home of the league leaders. It was an even affair and ultimately the only difference between the sides was that Chesterfield have a striker in good form whereas we don’t seem to have a striker at all. As you’d expect from the divisions leaders at home, the Spireites went on the offensive first, Paul Musselwhite tipped over a powerful header and Gary Brabin headed away the resultant corner. Chesterfields shooting in the opening stages was dreadful, otherwise they may have been able to take advantage of a goalmouth melee before a Tiger hooked the ball away. The early stages saw some good technical football but it suddenly degenerated to pinball with the ball being blasted at other players for no apparent reason. City’s first attack of note came when Mike Edwards had a shot deflected but Pollitt in the home goal got down well and collected. The game was then held up for some five minutes as a section of the Tigers support responded to provocation from home fans in the Crompton Street terrace by cutting across the pitch in an attempt to maim their tormentors. Order was eventually restored by baton wielding police and their snarling dogs and the game recommenced.
Mark Greaves foiled Luke Beckett, who the Spireites still haven’t paid Chester for, before the ever unflustered Ian Goodison put a back pass to Musselwhite, our number one wasn’t quite so calm and sliced the ball out for a corner. The kick was swung in and Williams connected well with a header only for our now recomposed keeper to tip over nonchalantly. Beckett was making a nuisance of himself up front for Chesterfield but our splendid defence, Goodison and Perry especially, where handling him well. The childish Chesterfield fans took to singing ‘you run from the Scunthorpe’ at us, which raised a bit of mirth, people don’t run from Scunny, they amble away smoking Bolivian cigars, but on with the game. City won a free kick on the right which was knocked in by Philpott, Pollitt punched away under pressure from Greaves and the ball fell to Edwards who struck a low shot that the keeper clutched. Therein lies our problem, two recognised defenders comprising our attacking threat, at times we appear to have no forwards on the pitch. A few minutes later, to the amusement of the Tiger Nation, Ian Goodison wellied the ball out of the ground for no apparent reason after the ball had gone out for a throw in, our throw in at that. In light of Chesterfields sudden financial strife, they won’t have been too chuffed to lose two £50 matchballs, earlier on a City fan had gleefully hurled a yellow Ultimax out of the ground when it came into the crowd. Beckett was put through (looking miles offside) and delivered a dangerous cross which was destined for the boot of a blueshirt but Goodison got between ball and boot to head away. David Brightwell went in the book for a tortoise-reaction-time challenge before Gary Brabin tried a long range effort that Pollitt batted away. Shortly after the ref peeped for half-time, 0-0.
City kicked off the second forty-five with a strong wind behind their back. City could have used this to their advantage, but strangely decided to kick the ball forwards as hard as they could at every opportunity, the ball would then be swept out of play by the gusts. Very odd, and disappointing after a good first half where we had quelled the home sides advances and were looking to hit them on the break. City had a great chance to score from a corner when Brabin looked to smash a shot in from close range, but he pulled out at the last second after seeing Goodison in front of him, the Jamaican fumed and rightly so. Mark Greaves went in the book after a tussle, not long before City’s most fluid move. Musselwhite tossed the ball to Marcelle who brought the ball forward up the left wing before passing to Whitmore who struck a dipping shot that went just over. Chesterfields 29 (you don’t expect me to find out his name do you???) wasted a fine cross, heading wide. The run of play was swinging in Chesterfields favour now, and it came as no surprise when they took the lead, Brabin lost the ball in midfield and a cross was swung in, Perry headed away but not far enough and the predatory Beckett was on hand to fire home from 10 yards.
City tried to claw their way back in but were utterly impotent upfront, seemingly playing Gary Brabin as a centre-forward before throwing David Brown on for the ineffectual Lee Philpott. Mark Greaves went close with a back header from a free kick that went inches wide. Steve Swales replaced Jason Perry, a bold but risky move, with only two at the back now we were fucked if someone ran at Brightwell. City had a spell of pressure late on but to no avail, Chesterfield had extended their lead at the top while City fell one place to tenth. It’s no disgrace losing to the leaders, it’s just a great shame we could not take a point since they didn’t look all that good. Once again a lack of firepower was made painfully evident, maybe we should try the Spireites trick of signing a forward and not paying for him.