With another "loan in" and another "loan out," with Neal Trotman cup-tied and with Leon Clarke rendered unavailable by his parent club, the Chesterfield starting line-up for tonight's game against Tranmere Rovers showed four changes to the one that started the entertaining but frustrating draw against Yeovil Town last Saturday. Ole Soderberg continued in goal, with Talbot, Downes, Mattis and Smith forming the defence. Midfield shaped up with Mendy and new loan man Tope Obadeyi on the wings, and Johnson and Grounds in the middle. Up front, Craig Westcarr partnered the two-goal hero of the Yeovil game, Jordan Bowery.
Tranmere shaded the opening exchanges, with Weir testing Soderberg on 5. The keeper had no chance to prevent Rovers taking the lead on 9, when McGurk controlled a pass with his chest before lashing a spectacular shot across Soderberg and into the net from around 25 yards.
Drew Talbot was taken off after only 18 minutes with a slight concussion, to be replaced by Simon Ford. Chesterfield were working hard, but chances were at a premium. A Bowery corss towards Westcarr was controlled and the Chesterfield man put in a fine turn but a Rovers boot hooked the ball away. Johnson struck a low free kick into the wall after Mendy was brought down while trying to break through the middle of the Rovers defence.
At the other end, Mattis was booked on 31 for pulling back McGurk on the edge of the area. Obadeyi's run on 34 ended with a blocked shot and Rovers broke through Akins; Soderberg made a good save to deny the lively forward, and downes mopped up.
Mendy and Obadeyi swapped wings. Mendy drove the ball forward from his own half to the edge of the Rovers box on 42 but saw his shot blocked; on the stroke of half time, though, ALEX MENDY again surged forward with the ball before hammering a super shot past the helpless fon Williams from 25 yards to record the equalising goal.
Halftime: 1-1. Attendance 3152 (253 from The Wirral.)
Chesterfield displayed greater prupose from the start of the second half, forcing Rovers onto the back foot. Obadeyi ran through middle and stumbled, slightly, before shooting wide on 51. Four minutes later, Chesterfield had the lead for the first time. A powerful and accurate Westcarr cross was so well-placed that neither defenders nor keeper came to commit, leaving JORDAN BOWERY to close in and head home from around six yards out..
Enoch Showumni replaced Bakayoko on 57 minutes. The big man increased the test for Chesterfield's defence but Aaron Downes was in the middle of a good spell there, winning headers and producing conclusive groundwork. Sadly the defence lapsed a little on 69; a Welsh free kick from the right was headed back across goal to Showumni, who rose above a clump of players to head home.
Labade replaced McGurk on 70. A minute later, Rovers had the lead, when Soderberg misjudged a Tyriaki shot and ended up paddling the ball up, over his own head and into the net.
Allot and Whitaker replaced Johnson and Mattis on 76. Just before resuming at centre-half, Grounds went on a run before firing over the Rovers bar.
Chesterfield kept plugging away at the Rovers goal. Both sides looked capable of scoring every time they went forward, but it was Chesterfield who netted the next goal, to level the scores at 3-3. A Smith cross from the left came to Obadeyi: the new man appeared to be cramping up quite severely but still swung a boot at it. He could only direct his shot wildly wide, and back out towards the left wing. Happily Mendy picked it up, and sent a brutally accurate cross over to JORDAN BOWERY, whose firm downward header from close range left fon Williams statuesque.
Power replaced Tyriaki on 85. As both sides went at it like tiring heavyweight boxers, Downes got a powerful head to clear a Labide free kick. With the game entering stoppage time, Weir upended Smith. Whitaker slung over another searing, flat cross that invited the run and clinical header produced by CRAIG WESTCARR, who ghosted across to convert with glee and hand the Spireites their first win since the previous round's victory over Notts.