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Mark: 'Tale Of Two Keepers'

29 December 2012

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Chesterfield goalkeeping coach Mark Crossley heaped praise on both goalkeepers in the Spireites' 1-1 draw with Morecambe, as both Tommy Lee and Shrimps stopper Barry Roche made a string of fine saves to ensure both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils.

Jim Bentley's side took the lead against the run of play, when Chris McCready's header was adjudged to have crossed the line to give the visitors the lead against the run of play but Conor Townsend hauled Paul Cook's side level when he scored his first ever league goal with a delightful free-kick.

But the 19-year-old Hull City loanee went from hero to villain, when he was harshly dismissed by referee Mr. Carl Berry when his flailing arm inadvertently collided with Morecambe skipper Will Haining.

But Crossley, who made over 300 appearances for Nottingham Forest, was keen to highlight the contribution made by both men between the sticks.

"We were getting stronger as the game went on," he said after speaking to Spireites Player following the stalemate.

"We weren't particularly overjoyed with the way we played but we felt we were getting stronger just like the last home game against York. To be fair to the lads, when Conor went off, credit to them, they kept going. We still tried to press and find that winning goal, but it just didn't happen. 

"I'm not being biased, but I thought today was a game for the two keepers. I thought Barry Roche was excellent for Morecambe and Tommy's save at the end there was world class.

"He's a lively player [Lewis Alessandra], myself and Tommy know him from Oldham. To be fair, it was a great effort but how Tommy pulled it out the bottom corner, I don't know. It was a miracle save.

"I know Barry from my Forest days too, he was coming through as a young lad and he's a terrific character. I really rate him, I think he is a good, steady goalkeeper and he showed that today. Credit to him, he came back to his old club and performed really well."

Chesterfield dominated for large periods of the game, in spite of being reduced to 10-men, but their unwanted record of never having beaten The Shrimps on home soil was extended.

Referee Mr. Carl Berry controversially awarded McCready's 28th minute header to stand after it was adjudged to have crept over the line in spite of it initially appearing that Lee had kept the ball out, but 'Norm' as he was dubbed during his time at The City Ground, didn't attach any blame to the officials for the decision.

"Obviously I spoke to Tommy Lee after the game and at half-time to see if it was in and he said he couldn't tell," he added.

"It's a brave decision that the linesman has made but you have to trust his judgement and if he thought the ball was over the line then there is nothing we can do about it now.

"We're disappointed that we conceded from a set-piece and the initial free header that caused the reaction. You can't argue with a decision like that, he was in the best position in the ground so he obviously thought it was over the line.

"I don't think anyone was sure [if it was a goal], including our goalkeeper and they are usually sure. He's [Tommy Lee] an honest lad and he couldn't tell, so we'll have to have a look at it again but at the end of the day nothing is going to change, it was a goal."

The Spireites bounced back from a goal down courtesy of young Tiger Townsend, who struck his first career goal with a delightful free-kick from the edge of the box, which left Roche rooted to the spot.

But the 19-year-old received his marching orders just after the hour mark and Crossley once again empathised with the officials, although he did admit the decision was a little harsh.

"He has jumped in front of the lad and he has actually caught him, but unintentionally," he said.

"You can see where the decision is coming from, because the elbow was there. But if you knew Conor Townsend as a lad, then he didn't mean to do it. He's caught him, rather than he meant to elbow him and unfortunately it was a straight red.

"He's not a malicious type of player, so it was a little bit harsh maybe. But he's caught the lad with his elbow so it is a decision we can't argue about really.

"We'll have a look at it and if we think that is the case then we could appeal it. At this moment in time, we feel it is a little bit harsh."

Paul Cook's side now find themselves three points adrift of the play-off places heading into 2013, with a trip to his former employers Accrington Stanley on New Year's Day next up.

Town's festive programme has seen them yield four points from two home games and the Liverpudlian will be hoping he can steal three points from The Crown Ground on Tuesday afternoon to improve his side's aspirations of promotion.

"We're disappointed that we didn't win the game because it would have put us right up amongst seventh or eighth spot. 

We can't fault the way they have been working for us of late. We're going to recover properly now and hopefully go to Accrington and win the game. 

"The effort and professionalism that the players are putting in at the moment; we can't ask for any more."

You can watch Mark's interview in full exclusively on Spireites Player

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