Chesterfield manager John Sheridan made two changes to the team beaten by Bury last Saturday. Jack Lester started from his usual "away" position on the bench, being replaced by Simon Ford; he went to right back, which meant Drew Talbot could get further forward, allowing Smalley to partner Davies up front. The enforced absence of the injured Dean Morgan was covered by reintroducing Derek Niven to the starting eleven.
Chesterfield kicked off and nervously perhaps, conceded possession, but Torquay were unable to get past Simon Ford. Talbot flew down the wing and crossed, and the ball was deflected out for the game's first corner within the first minute. It was taken short but the offside flag went up for the return pass to the corner taker.
Torquay won their first corner and Branston got a thundering header to it; it came down off the crossbar, bobbled about and was eventually cleared, to the relief of the Chesterfield fans present in great numbers. Smalley and Davies worked the ball forward well on 7 but Mansell dealt with the attack. Zebroski crossed from the right but Ford blocked for the Gulls' second corner in the 9th minute. Again it went high and deep towards Branston, but Ford was on hand to prevent his having a go at it.
Zebroski took on Griffiths and crossed on 12 but the ball flew over and out of play. Lee punched away a free kick on 14 and O'Kane took possession, but wellied the ball high and out. Mattis's legs prevented Kee from scoring on 15 after Lee had committed himself. Talbot's boot forced the ball to fly side after Robinson's shot, and another corner resulted. Branston was again the target and Ford, again, got in the Torquay man's face to defend well.
Chesterfield strung a few passes together on 23 after Allott began a move forwards. It came to Smalley and Branston tackled, but the move will have given the visitors a little more belief in a game that had been quite one-sided, up to now. Another attack saw a couple of Spireite half-chances hacked away on 27. Craig Davies cut in from the left, took the ball past Robertson on 28 and hammered the ball goalwards after Whitaker played him in, but it flew inches over the bar.
Davies got another chance just outside the box on 31 and it took a fingertip save from Bevan to prevent a goal, at the expense of a corner. Sensing, perhaps, that the Torquay defence might be a bit rattled, Whitaker took the corner long, but it went through unattended after Ford was blocked off by Branston.
Smalley went after a Davies pass on 33 and went to ground in the box, pushed in the back after Branston challenged him from the wrong side. The ref's verdict? No penalty. Would Dean really have gone down looking for a spot kick, when preparing for a free shot on goal from close range?
A Shot by Whitaker was blocked to Niven, whose drive was eventually grabbed by Bevan as Chesterfield began to take the initiative. Smalley's first-time shot produced another great save from Bevan on 38. Both recent attacks featured errors from Branston, who stayed down after the second one, feeling his knee and, coincidentally, breaking up the visitors' impetus.
Kee drove the home side forward and Tomlin latched onto a clearance but drove wide from around 15 yards on 41. Talbot distracted Robinson and forced the forward into a weak shot on 43. A rasping O'Kane drive flew over on 45.
Halftime: Torquay United 0 Chesterfield 0 Attendance: 5,002(from Chesterfield.)
Torquay won a corner in the first minute again, after Kee stuck out a leg and a Spireite leg cleared it. Again, it was arrowed into Branston, but again Ford got in the way. Another corner resulted but it was poorly executed and Talbot cleared. Chesterfield countered and Whitaker put the ball in; Smalley stepped over and shot but lifted the ball over and into the Chesterfield fans behind the goal.
Ian Morris replaced the injured Derek Niven after 53 minutes, slotting straight into central midfield alongside Mark Allott. Torquay continued to press and Mattis cleared for a throw that was speared long towards Branston. Chesterfield countered, but Smalley couldn't quite get to Davies's through ball before it went out.
A Whitaker shot was deflected for a corner by Mansell on 56. Whitaker took a short one and crossed, but Branston headed away. Smalley beat Branston and squeezed it through the six yard box but it didn't quite drop for Whitaker or Morris.
Morris was fouled on 63 by Zebroski and Holden swatted a quick free kick between the centre-halves to Davies, whose volley flew over. Torquay brought Lathrope on for Tomlin after 64 minutes.
Smalley stood a cross into the box on 65 but Whitaker couldn't quite get there, as the play became more stretched. Davies was brought down just outside the box but the decision came back as a free kick to The Gulls. Torquay were committing more to attack, since a draw was of little use for them, but that left gaps. As they became more frantic and a little less controlled, Griffiths was fouled late by Lathrope, who was yellow-carded.
A Smalley shot produced a corner on 70 which was quickly taken, but Torquay came away with it. They broke, and a great bit of defending by Griffiths held them up. Mattis conceded a corner by blocking a wild drive from Zebroski. Branston won it in the air but Griffiths forced it away for another corner, which was cleared. Another corner was aimed again at Branston but the visitors combined to prevent his getting a head on it.
Kee helped the ball goalwards from a throw on 76 and Lee scrambled, but luckily it drifted wide. The same player shot wildly wide on 78. O'Kane drove on 80 and it struck Griffiths, who was dazed, and the ball went out for a corner, aimed at Robertson, this time. It was cleared, and the return fizzed out for a goal kick.
Jack Lester entered play on 80, replacing Smalley. Torquay replaced Nicholson with Rowe Turner at the same time. A Griffiths cross was claimed by Bevan before any Chesterfield men could get on it. Lester knocked the ball on for Whitaker but another defender got to it to clear for a corner, which was sent into the six-yard box and cleared.
Lester was brought down by Branston in the "D" with six minutes left. Whitaker's shot flew off the wall for a corner, which Branston headed away.
The Gulls brought Stevens on for Kee on 86. In the game's last action, Griffiths did brilliantly to knock the ball away from Zebroski for a corner in stoppage time, which was headed over.