John Sheridan made three changes to the side that came away from Accrington with a point on January 3rd. In a side that looked as though it might start with a midfield five, Mark Allott, Deane Smalley and Jack Hunt came in, with Lester, Niven and Bowery being the Accrington starters who were on the bench. The return of Hunt and the move of Ford to centre-back appeared to open the way for Dwayne Mattis to move back to midfield. The strong-looking bench offered the possibility of a late push to win, or a late recovery on an Accrington scale!
Dwayne Mattis found himself on the end of a Whitaker pass from an Allott through ball, but wasn't able to seriously test Glen Morris in the Southend goal. With less than one minute on the clock it showed that the visitors were immediately comfortable with their formation, although Dwayne might reflect that he should have put the chance away.
Southend won the game's first corner on 6. Hall's cross came to Patterson at the back post but it went out for a corner on the other side, which was partially cleared before going out for a goal kick. Grant broke on 8 but a poor ball gifted possession to Whitaker who, surprised perhaps, gave it back; the visitors regained possession, though, and played some decent, patient stuff. Talbot worked the ball forward on 10 to Jack Hunt, whose run into the box ended with a trip, and a penalty kick. DANNY WHITAKER stepped up to slot the ball past the Southend keeper, recording his sixth successful penalty out of six the season and giving the Spireites a deserved lead.
Jack Hunt was shown a yellow card on 17 for a shirt-pull as Southend pressed, but in the blink of an eye, Chesterfield swept to the other end and doubled their lead. Ford's clearance was turned into a probing long ball by Whitaker; DEANE SMALLEY took up the challenge, running past Herd and completing the move with a fine finish to register his second goal in as many games.
Hall's fine volley brought an equally impressive save from Tommy Lee on 22, and a corner resulted. Hall's kick was headed away well by Robertson.
Deane Smalley began struggling with an injury around the half-hour mark as the game entered a quieter period.With the Spireites able to control their game and Southend unable to raise theirs, only a last-minute corner that was dealt with easily by the visiting defence posed any threat to Chesterfield's lead.
Halftime: Southend United 0 Chesterfield 2
Southend made a substitution at the start of the second half, replacing Comminges with Ferdinand. The second period opened as the first closed, with Chesterfield in command, and relaxed, and with the home side unable to trespass into the Spireite comfort zone. That changed when, rather out of the blue, Craig Easton thundered a loose ball into the Chesterfield net after the visitors failed to effect a conclusive clearance on 58.
Chesterfield replied in conclusive manner when Talbot went down under a challenge in the box to win what appeared to be a fortuitous penalty on 61. DANNY WHITAKER kept his composure to stroke the ball home for pen number seven, and his side's third goal of the afternoon. A minute later, Hall dived over a Mattis challenge and the resultant melee, more than anything, caused Mattis to go into the book. As the home side did what they could to unsettle the Spireites' composure, Grant went in two-footed on Ian Morris but escaped punishment.
Allott tripped Hall on 70 and was booked for it. Talbot ended up with the ball from the free kick and took it into the corner of the Southend half before winning a corner off Easton. Talbot headed Whitaker's kick over the bar.
Derek Niven came into midfield at the expense of Ian Morris after 73 minutes. Corr created a chance for Patterson but he shot well wide when a goal looked far more likely. Hunt did brilliantly to clear from Hall's feet close to goal after Lee made a great save from Corr. The resulting corner was cleared. As Southend pressed the game became more open, but there were gaps in the home side's rearguard that a quick break could exploit.
Blair Sturrock replaced Patterson after 78 minutes. Southend won a corner which Lee collected with great assurance. Southend won a penalty on 82 when Corr went down under a challenge from Ian Breckin and Corr was able to recover enough to fire home and make the last ten minutes more interesting. Southend applied fierce pressure and Grant went down under no challenge from Breckin, but the referee wasn't fooled. Grant gave away a cheap free kick for holding on Hunt, to relieve the pressure momentarily.
Niven's foul on Grant provided Southend with an opportunity to fire the ball into the Chesterfield box with five minutes left; Lee came and punched as far as Clohessey, and came again to catch the return. Lee was booked on 86 for time-wasting at a goal kick, despite the fact that Corr was inside the area at the time. A fine cross into the Chesterfield box eluded everyone and passed two yards wide of the post, for a goal kick. Another fine Grant cross eluded Corr at the back post on 89.
Smalley chased an Allott clearance into the corner and a few more precious seconds were used up; Sturrock probed but an offside flag prevented Southend from capitalising. A late corner came via Niven's boot with a minute of additional time left. Niven headed away at the near post for another corner. Bowery came on for Smalley before the corner was taken; Smalley took so long to get off (in Southend's opinion) that Barker tried to help him along with a push. The corner was poor, and was cleared by Allott; Grant's return was equally poor and a goal kick resulted. The Spireites kept possession for the last few seconds to claim all three points.