John Sheridan's team for the Johnstone's Paints Trophy final showed two changes from the side beaten at home by Huddersfield Town a week ago. One change - the replacement of skipper Neal Trotman by Simon Ford - was made necessary by the player being cup-tied, while the other change saw Jack Lester (who skippered the side in Trotman's absence) preferred to Craig Westcarr up front.
The surprise on the bench was the inclusion of midfielder Mark Randall, who had not seen first team action since October. He was joined on an attack-minded substitute string by Craig Westcarr, Danny Whitaker, Scott Boden and the goalkeeper, Greg Fleming.
The Spireites lined up thus:
Hurst, Ford, Thompson, Smith
Talbot, Allott, Moussa, Mendy
Subs: Fleming, Westcarr, Whitaker, Boden, Randall.
By reaching the last match of the competition, Chesterfield left behind Northampton Town, Rochdale, Hartlepool United and Leyton Orient as the only sides to have played in every year of the competition's existence without reaching the showpiece final. The pre-match razzmatazz included the firing of smoke cannons that gave the stadium a hazy outlook to go with the almost stifling heat prevalent inside the cavernous bowl.
Chesterfield kicked off with the 18,000 or so Spireites that travelled down behind their goal. On current form the League One side may have been underdogs but they started brightly, although the first danger came from Richie, whose cross from the Chesterfield left cleared Lee's bar by about a yard, on 2. Bowery got down Swindon's left on 4 and held it up well before laying it back to Talbot, whose cross met a late run from Lester, and his header produced the first save of the day, from Foderingham.
Richie found Ferry going forward on 7 and he raced towards the box and he found Connell, but his extravagant-looking cross-shot sailed over.
Chesterfield won the ball through Moussa and he found Lester, who set Bowery free to bear down on goal, but a tackle conceded the game's first corner. The ball wasn't cleared and Ford hit the bar with a header before Lester found the net from 6 yards, but the offside flag went up with Ford's involvement.
Richie looked to be struggling with a knock as Swindon won their first corner, on 12, but it was cleared for another that Holmes drifted over Lee's goal and out. Swindon were trying to get the ball away down the wings but Smith and Hurst were alert, cutting out passes before they reached their intended targets. Swindon came closest to opening their account when Holmes shot a foot over the bar on 19 after Benson laid the ball off to him.
Holmes and Benson linked on the Spireites right to allow Holmes to cross towards Thompson, but Allott cleared up on his own penalty spot. The pressure was kept on but a long ball forward from Hurst cleared it for Lester to poke through to Bowery; unfortunately Jack put a little too much on the ball for Bowery to stand a chance of testing the keeper.
Mendy robbed a defender on 25 and took the ball closer to the penalty area before firing over. Holmes won a corner after his cross clipped Hurst on the way over and his kick was headed out by Ford before Allott, taking no chances, launched it long to clear the danger. Richie's frustration with Smith's good start led to a foul on the Chesterfield man on 27.
Holmes had another great chance on 29 and his drifting shot was cut out by a Thompson but it was deflected goalward by the defender's intervention and Lee was forced into a remarkable, instinctive save. Swindon were increasing the pressure and three corners came their way in the space of a couple of minutes.
Lester went down off the ball on 32, appearing to need treatment to a groin before being able to continue. Within a minute or so, though, he went down again, and a disconsolate Lester handed the captain's armband to Mark Allott before making way for Craig Westcarr, on 35.
A neat spell of keep-ball from Swindon produced a corner on 38 and Bowery put his foot through the ball to clear; it was returned by Benson to Connell, who tried an acrobatic volley when a more controlled shot was possible; his effort flew harmlessly wide of Lee's goal.
Lee went down to safely gather a Richie shot as the fourth official announced two minutes of added first-half time, which both defences negotiated without problems.
Half time: Spireites 0 Robins 0. Attendance: 49,602.
Within two minutes of the re-start, Chesterfield took the lead. Bowery Had a pot at goal from an angle and the ball went across the box; Mendy turned on a sixpence and centred where the outstretched leg of Oliver Risser, under pressure from Westcarr, turned the ball past the keeper and into the net. Chesterfield were inspired by this and Hurst found a super pass that Westcarr couldn't quite control. Swindon responded well, too, and the game entered a more exciting phase.
The Robins won a corner off Talbot on 51 and it was taken short; the cross took a nick off Smith and went out, although a handball by Connell went unseen. The second corner, again worked shot, was cleared by Talbot.
Connell went into the book on 55 after contesting the award of a goal kick. Thomson played a super pass forward to Westcarr, who dropped off the centre-half and turned to fire narrowly wide of the Swindon goal, on 60.
Swindon made their first substitution on 61, taking off Risser and bringing on Murray. It looked as though The Robins were going "three at the back." Brilliant pressing work by Bowery on Devera forced an error deep in the Swindon defence and won a throw. It doesn't seem like a lot, written down, but it typified the fighting spirit that Jordan and his team-mates were showing; this spirit produced a half-chance for Mendy on 65, when he overhead-kicked over the bar from around 12 yards.
Connell's dummy forced Ford to slice in front of goal, but the ball flew over for a corner, which Swindon rather wasted. McCormack was forced to defend firmly after Westcarr competed for a Mendy pass.
Swindon made a second substitution on 71 when Bostock replaced Smith. Within seconds Talbot flicked a ball on and it fell beautifully for Westcarr, who took the ball into a one-on-one with the keeper, only to steer the ball wide.
Devera came off for treatment to a facial injury received when he took on Westcarr off the ball on 29 as the Swindon manager was told off for entering the field of play to keep the game going when the ball went dead.
Murray tried to pass the ball in from the edge of the area on 75 but Lee had plenty of time to get down to save. The Robins made their final substitution on 76 when Cibocchi came on for McEveley
Moussa fouled Murray near the corner of the area on 78. The free kick didn't clear the wall and was cleared to halfway by Westcarr.
With ten minutes left, Chesterfield brought Mark Randall on for Moussa. This interesting move may have been made with Randall's ability to pick a counter-attacking pass in mind. Swindon began a spell of heavy pressure as Chesterfield struggled to keep the ball up front. Talbot's fine ball down the line allowed Bowery to canter forward, but he ran out of legs, rather, when he reached the edge of the Swindon box.
Scott Boden came on for Jordan Bowery with five minutes left. Amid nail-biting tension Ford and Hurst headed away, and Lee was forced to tip over from Cibocchi. Swindon broke after Mendy and Boden had the ball in the Robins box but a Benson handball allowed the Spireite contingent to breathe again as the fourth official added four minutes of stoppage time. A brilliant Nathan Smith tackle left Richie rolling around in the box, and although the agony was genuine, a throw in was properly awarded.
In the game's last action, Randall released CRAIG WESTCARR on halfway; from somewhere, he found the energy to chase the ball down before drawing the keeper and sliding it home from the edge of the box, to make it 2-0 to Chesterfield and leave the club faced with having to extend the trophy cabinet. The referee's whistle came after time added on for the injury in injury time and sparked great scenes of celebration at the blue end of the stadium.
Everyone, of course, put a fantastic shift in and was competitive throughout, but the standout players for me were Chesterfield's full-backs for keeping The Robins' wingers at bay in their spell of intense first-half pressure. For that, I'd name Nathan Smith as my Man of the Match. Ford marshalled well and Thompson attacked the ball with determination. In the second half Alex Mendy grew in influence and that, too, helped to keep Richie quiet. Westcarr and Bowery chased everything down up front and Allott and Moussa and Talbot matched that work-rate in midfield. The efforts of the fourteen players used and the non-stop encouragement offered unconditionally by the fans meant that the unlucky Jack Lester was able to go up the many steps and through the various corridors to the presentation balcony, to lift the Johnstone's Paints Trophy for Chesterfield.