Chesterfield made one change for the visit of Oldham Athletic to the B2Net Stadium this afternoon. Simon Ford came back into the side in place of Dean Morgan, who picked up a hamstring strain late in the game at Scunthorpe. Ford went into the centre of defence with Robertson going left back and Smith into left midfield, although when pressed back, the defence had a "three centre-halves" look to it, especially in the first half.
It would be a day to display bravery and determination, and Ford took a knock in the first minute, clearing a cross from the feet of Simpson, but was soon back to his feet. A Taylor cross came off Robertson for the first corner of the game, but the driven low cross to the edge of the area was met by an air-kick from its intended target.
Talbot came forward and found Bowery on 4; his lovely return pass invited Drew in, but his shot was dragged across the face of goal. Bowery made a promising start to the half and was holding the ball up well. A couple of Chesterfield corners came to nothing, although the second one produced a sliced clearance that indicated that the visitors' defence might be inclined to panic if pressure could be applied.
Robertson was harshly booked on 18 minutes after Taylor's comedy dive won a free kick when he couldn't get round the Chesterfield man on the touchline. Oldham threatened, and a Diamond header from a Simpson free kick flashed over.
Both sides were committed to attack. A Talbot cross was headed out by Adeyemi for a Chesterfield corner, but this was clared into free space; Allott made himself first to the ball and a Whitaker cross was somehow forced out for a goal kick. At the other end, Taylor got in front of Robertson to fire goalwards but Lee saved comfortably on 28.
Talbot watched the ball well and was not fooled by Morais' trickery, giving away a corner on 31. The kick was (accidentally) driven to the foot of the near post where Westcarr kicked air in trying to clear; Whitaker showed great presence under his crossbar to trap and clear the ball, as Oldham men bore down on him.
Mendy broke onto the ball from inside his own half and took it wide on the right; he cut in to the area but took the ball out again, before crossing. From nowhere, JORDAN BOWERY pulled off a clever shot with his left foot to guide the ball over Cisak and into the net, to give Chesterfield a 34th-minute lead.
Trotman made a huge challenge to deny Oldham but the ball came to Thurman; Lee pulled off a fine save from his shot, but the linesman's offside flag would have cancelled out a goal, anyway.
Oldham continued to press and Talbot and Ford tried to clear with measured headers, but the danger wasn't cleared until Smith's good work got it away. Lee made a good save on 43 but the ball twice clipped the referee on the edge of the Chesterfield area before the home defence could hack clear. A fantastic Trotman tackle on Simpson won the ball fairly but left the Oldham man in a heap, on the edge of Chesterfield's penalty area.
As the game entered first-half stoppage time Robertson went down after receiving a boot to the face. After lengthy treatment the game continued and Chesterfield should have got the ball away when it went down into a corner of the pitch, but didn't; a cross came over despite Whitaker's attempted block and Matt Smith rose at the back post from a group of defenders to head the equalising goal.
Halftime: Spireites 1 Latics 1. Attendance: 6723 (914 from Oldham.)
Chesterfield showed first from the re-start and Whitaker saw a powerful, goalbound shot from 25 yards tipped over by Cisak on 48.
Play wquickly developed an end-to-end quality that persisted through an increasingly frantic second half. An Oldham man broke through the defence on 56 but looked suspiciously offside; as he entered the box, the pursuing Trotman eased him to the floor in what looked suspiciously like a penalty to the fans behind Lee's goal. With two wrong decisions combining to make the right one, play was allowed to continue.
In the space of a couple of minutes, Talbot played two great balls; the first to Mendy, whose soppy cross hit the only Oldham player between him and a clutch of team-mates in the box - and the next to Westcarr, who couldn't hook the ball round into a scoring position before the keeper fell on it.
Oldham replaced Morais with Parker on 59
Trotman was forced off to have a cut to his forehead stitched, after a clash with Matt Smith. Trotman was clearly agitated by the challenge, and the lack of punitive action from referee Deadman, but the incident was mollified by the withdrawal of Smith, in favour of Kuqi, before play continued. Trotman resumed some minutes later with a huge bandage around his head.
Lee was forced into a good save after Adeyemi burst into box, and Roberttson was on hand to hack away the loose ball. Chesterfield took their turn to attack and Trotman headed a Whitaker corner at the feet of Bowery, just yards out, but Cisak showed great bravery in wrapping himself around the ball before bowery could get a shot away.
Scott Boden came on for Alex Mendy after 75 minutes. The game continued in an almost demented end-to-end fashion, as two tiring teams struggled to keep their shape but refused to take even half a step backwards. Robertson blocked an Adeyemi cross for a corner on 76 and a minute later Nathan Smith appeared to be pulled down in the Oldham area by an arm around his neck, but the referee was unresponsive to strong penalty claims.
Trotman was performing heroically, using his size and strength to hold Kuqi off and shepherd the ball back to Lee on 78. Back at the Oldham end, Boden shot inches wide of the top corner of the goal on 85 after taking a fine pass from Bowery.
Scapuzzi replaced Simpson on 85 and shot wide of Lee's right-hand post three minutes later. Nathan Smith was harshly booked for a firm challenge on Parker as the game entered stoppage time. Lee was called on to make a couple of important saves but Chesterfield very nearly snatched a winner when Westcarr's fine cross found Boden's head, but his header down fell kindly for Cisak. The final whistle was met kindly by Chesterfield fans, who had seen their team battle encouragingly throughout, but who knew that draws would somehow have to be turned into wins if the team were to climb out of relegation trouble.