Chesterfield continued their unbeaten start to the season, drawing 2-2 with Rochdale in a fiery encounter at the Spotland Stadium.
The Spireites took the lead in the first half through a Marc Richards header, but two penalty decisions turned the direction of the game. Andrew Tutte equalised, with Scott Hogan giving
Dale the lead in the second half. Gary Roberts cheeky lob levelled the scores, and that’s how it finished.
The Spireites named the same squad that beat Cheltenham Town last week, meaning goal-scorer Eoin Doyle started on the bench, alongside Liam Cooper.
After two consecutive victories in the league, Chesterfield entered the game full of confidence and dually started the game on top.
A succession of crosses were fired into the Rochdale area, but unfortunately for the Spireites, none of them fell to a Chesterfield player.
For all the visitor’s pressure, it was the home side that had the first attempt on goal. Ian Henderson picked the ball up on the edge of the Spireites area, but his shot was too high to trouble keeper, Tommy Lee.
Minutes later and it was Chesterfield’s turn to attack. Roberts received the ball from Jay O’Shea; he turned his defender, but his shot lacked power, and the ball fell straight to Rochdale stopper, Josh Lillis.
The early pressure paid off for the Spireites as they took a deserved lead. Roberts’ instinctive cross found the head of Richards, who guided it past Lillis to score his second goal of the season.
Rochdale’s George Donnelly picked up the first booking of the afternoon, midway through the first half. Drew Talbot broke out of the defence, but the striker hacked down the right back, resulting in a yellow card.
Only a minute later and Dale won themselves a penalty. Sam Morsy gave the ball away cheaply on the edge of the area then brought down Michael Rose and the referee awarded a penalty. Donnelly stepped up confidently, but his effort smashed off the post.
This then started a minute of madness, as from the penalty clearance, Lee was adjudged to have fouled Donnelly and the linesman flagged for a foul and a penalty was awarded. The goalkeeper was booked for the incident and Roberts also received a yellow for his protests.
It was Tutte this time that stepped up to take the penalty, and he sent Lee the wrong way to give Rochdale an equaliser.
With tempers rising, the Spireites went on the offensive. Roberts picked up the ball on the half-way line and played a perfectly weighted ball through to Richards, but the goalkeeper made a superb save to preserve the draw.
Sam Hird received a yellow card for a foul on Donnelly on the edge of the box, and minutes later, brought down the same man in a similar area but this time got away without a caution.
Just before the break, Peter Vincenti smacked a header against the crossbar and Hogan should have done better when put through one-on-one with Lee.
An eventful first half was brought to an end, and it was greeted with boos from the Spireites fans, with and the Chesterfield bench far from delighted with the referee’s first half performance.
The referee started the second half and within 20 seconds, booked Rochdale striker Hogan for persistant fouling.
Rochdale took the lead five minutes after the break. Hogan flicked a header out wide to Henderson, received the ball back and struck the ball past Lee, giving Dale the lead.
Doyle and Cooper were introduced straight after, in place of left back Nathan Smith and central defender Ryan Edwards, with the Spireites reverting to a traditional 4-4-2 formation.
The new tactics paid off as Roberts equalised for the Spireites five minutes after the hour mark. Jimmy Ryan played a beautiful ball over the top, which Roberts ran onto and chipped the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper to bring the scores level.
After the goal, Chesterfield started to dominate. Ryan was playing a key role in the game, breaking up the play and producing some wonderfully timed challenges.
With 15 minutes remaining, Joe Rafferty entered the referee’s notebook, fouling Roberts 25 yards out. Ryan took the free-kick, but his effort was struck over the crossbar.
As the rain started to pour, Chesterfield made their third and final substitution with Tendayi Darikwa replacing goal-scorer Roberts.
Since his introduction, Doyle was a constant threat, and as the fourth official indicated four minutes added time, the Irishman went close with an effort, but it evaded the crossbar.
Played in-front of 2899 supporters, the Spireites are left to rue contentious penalty decisions, but showed great resilience in the second half.