Own Goal Sinks Spireites
Chesterfield couldn't make it back-to-back league wins and succumbed to their second successive defeat at The Proact Stadium on a miserable October evening, as Chris Atkinson put through his own net in the dying seconds to send Fleetwood back to Lancashire with a flattering three points following a scarcely deserved 2-1 win.
Steven Gillespie gave the Lancastrians the lead after just five minutes, pouncing on a loose ball to slam home his fourth goal of the campaign from the edge of the box with a predatory finish but Nottingham-born wide man Tendayi Darikwa squared things up on the stroke of half time with a perfectly-executed volley. But the visitors snatched an undeserved winner in the last minute of regulation time when young Terrier Atkinson could only divert the ball into his own net after it thundered back off the upright.
Caretaker manager Tommy Wright named two changes from the side that made the long trip back from Devonshire with all three points on Saturday, replacing youngster Craig Clay with Danny Whitaker and the veteran striker Jack Lester returned to make his 150th league start for the club at the expense of Craig Westcarr. Former Port Vale hit man Marc Richards was named amongst the substitutes after making his recovery from an ankle injury he sustained in the 4-3 win over Accrington Stanley, but Tommy Lee remained sidelined.
The Cod Army have enjoyed a meteoric rise to the bottom tier of the Football League and Micky Mellon's side had only conceded three goals away from Highbury, having suffered just one defeat on their way to occupying the third and final promotion spot in League Two. The Spireites, meanwhile, found themselves within touching distance of the play-off places after back-to-back league wins on the road, but were hoping to bounce back following a disappointing defeat to Dagenham & Redbridge in their last outing on home soil.
It was a dank and dreary October evening in Derbyshire and it took the visitors just five minutes to strike the opening blow, though it came by means rather fortuitous. There was no questioning the quality of the finish, however, as Gillespie drilled home with aplomb after the ball had squirted free following Luis Boa Morte's challenge. It was the perfect start for Mellor's men, who were illustrating why they had been so impressive on their travels and the dangerous Gillespie was causing mischief soon after too, when he flashed one over the top of Richard O'Donnell's bar.
The former Sheffield Wednesday keeper had to be alert to deny Town in the 14th minute, when he slashed a deflected effort clear before the visitors survived a huge slice of luck midway through the first half. It was perhaps unsurprisingly the Premier League winner Boa Morte that conjured up Chesterfield's best opening thus far, bringing the ball back to earth with a deft touch before his centre was clumsily scuffed onto the foot of the post.
Atkinson had given the Spireites the spoils against Exeter on Saturday, but he could only angle the former Arsenal man's corner wide soon after as the hosts finally showed signs of flickering to life. Fleetwood had clearly identified the Portuguese as the home side's biggest threat, but his frustrations were beginning to boil over and he was booked seven minutes before the break after a scything challenge on Dean Howell when he thought he had been initially fouled.
When he did manage to wriggle clear of the left-back, he sent an intricate ball down the channel for the onrushing Atkinson to chase but the Fleetwood defence still would not relent. That was until the 44th minute, however, when young winger Darikwa volleyed home the second goal of his senior career and one that will certainly take some beating. In truth, the visitors had offered little in the way of attacking threat since they opened the scoring and they were deservedly pegged back after Togwell's gargantuan throw-in wasn't cleared.
It fell only to the 20-year-old, who, oozing in confidence after his sublime display at St James Park, executed a wonderful side-footed volley that left Scott Davies in the Fleetwood goal grasping thin air. It gave the home side a much-needed lift heading into the dressing rooms and referee Mr. Darren Deadman left the field to a rousing chorus of boos from the home support after he missed an off the ball altercations with former Scunthorpe midfielder Togwell.
The former Oldham man Whitaker had been given the nod to start after recovering from a groin injury, but after a fairly passive opening period from the 31-year-old he began to drop deeper in search of space and he set Boa Morte free before Togwell eventually struck into the arms of Davies from distance. The ex-Iron man was at it again just shy of the hour mark, lunging in desperately at Drew Talbot's inviting cross but he could only toe it wide from inside the six-yard box.
It was encouraging from the home side, but the visitors were next to threaten after former Colchester United striker Gillespie found a yard of space but his low drive was comfortably gathered by O'Donnell. In fairness to Fleetwood, they were not content to sit back and absorb Chesterfield pressure and they too sought to inflict the next blow in what was becoming a fairly open contest.
Boa Morte was once again coursing through Spireites veins - drifting infield from the right onto his favoured foot - but his delicate chip narrowly eluded Atkinson who was booked shortly after for a desperate lunge. Time was now elapsing and Fleetwood's penalty claims were waved away after winger Alex Marrow tumbled over the stray leg of skipper Sam Hird, before the Scotsman introduced Nathan Smith and striker Marc Richards for Liam Ridehalgh and Whitaker respectively as Wright threw caution to the wind in search of another three points.
But Richards' comeback was cut drastically short as he returned to the bench within minutes of his introduction after aggravating a hamstring injury which prevented him returning to the fold against the Grecians. His replacement, Craig Westcarr, almost had the perfect introduction as he raced onto Darikwa's inch-perfect ball but he was denied by a smothering stop from Davies.
And cruelly, he was made to rue his miss when Saturday's hero turned to villain by prodding into his own net after the ball had come back off the post with venom.
Chesterfield (4-2-3-1) O'Donnell; Talbot, Hird ©, Forbes, Ridehalgh (Smith 78); Akinson; Togwell; Darikwa, Boa Morte, Whitaker (Richards 78 (Westcarr 83)); Lester.
Unused Subs - Wilson, Evans, Randall, Trotman.
Goals - Darikwa (44)
Bookings - Boa Morte (38), Atkinson (70)
Fleetwood Town (4-4-2) - Davies; McLoughlin, Mawene, Edwards, Howell; Marrow (Nicolson 90), McGuire ©, Fowler (Milligan 70), Brown; Barkhuizen (Ball 62), Gillespie.
Unused Subs - Goodall, Parkin, Kinsella, Maxwell.
Goals - Gillespie (5) Atkinson (O.G 90)
Bookings - N/A
Referee - Mr. Darren Deadman
Attendance - 4, 372 (100 away)