Byrne Steals Points For Davids' Barnet
Chesterfield's winless run at the Proact Stadium was extended to four games after they succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Edgar Davids' rock-bottom Barnet. The Bees had shown no adventure whatsoever throughout the contest but were handed an 88th minute penalty after Drew Talbot upended Andy Yiadom and Mark Byrne gleefully stepped up to steer home from 12-yards and give the basement boys a flattering three points.
Second-half substitute Craig Westcarr had the chance to steal a deserved point in stoppage time but he fluffed his lines from close range as new manager Paul Cook came back down to earth with a bump and was given a stark reminder of the hard work that is required in Derbyshire. There was just one solitary change from the side suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Fleetwood Town on Tuesday night, as Nathan Smith came in for the injured Luis Boa Morte. The Spireites were otherwise unchanged from the defeat to the Cod Army, as new boss Cook eagerly watched his new charges from the technical area with a particularly enthusiastic disposition.
Barnet had failed to win in a staggering 14 attempts in all competitions this season, that was until they somehow managed to pull off one of, if not the most remarkable transfer coup when 39-year-old Champions League winner Edgar Davids arrived as co-manager and captain at Underhill. The Bees have been unbeaten since the Dutchman has featured in their side, hammering Aidy Boothroyd's Northampton 4-0 before sharing a goalless draw with manager-less Wycombe.
The former Juventus and Barcelona star will have come up against many of the world's greatest players during his glittering career, but none more so tenacious than Sam Togwell and the former Scunthorpe United man was perhaps too keen get to grips with him early on as the Barnet skipper was literally forced to get his first taste of the Proact Stadium's pitch.
When he did pick himself up off the turf though, Davids occupied the hole behind lone-striker Jake Hyde as the Football League's lowliest club forced the first opening of the game when Clovis Kamdjo's deflected effort was well gathered by Richard O'Donnell. The Liverpudlian manager has arrived in Derbyshire with a penchant for advocating expansive football and when the hosts did move the ball with sufficient pace it forced an opportunity for two players at the opposite end of the spectrum - the evergreen Jack Lester and energetic youngster Tendayi Darikwa.
The visitors were forced into a change midway through the opening period, when John Oster was withdrawn for Anthony Edgar shortly before Krystian Pearce flicked over Davids' corner. The opening half an hour had seen relatively little in terms of goalmouth action, but the Spireites were showing glimpses of adopting Cook's new ethos with Danny Whitaker's fizzing drive stinging the otherwise chilly fingertips of Graham Stack.
The former Arsenal stopper was forced into a flurry of impressive stops from the ensuing corners, as he twice denied Togwell from two well-worked routines. Captain Sam Hird then powered a free header wide as Cook's new side began to finally start cooking on gas in the most austere weather of the autumn so far. The home side had done enough to merit an advantage heading into the dressing room, but it remained goalless at the break after Stack this time foiled Chris Atkinson's close-range header.
The Spireites' last win on home soil came against Cook's Accrginton back in September and they were going to have to find another gear if they were to warm the cockles of the 5,000 strong home support and conjure the game's opening goal. But it was the visitors who came closest after the restart when Edgar's blocked shot fell kindly to Hyde, but his attempted scissor-kick was diverted by Hird.
The game was drifting towards the hour-mark with a lack of urgency from both sides, before Mark Randall was introduced for Smith with Whitaker shuffling over to the left. The former Arsenal youngster has found first-team appearances difficult to come by so far and he immediately set to work with a trademark raking pass for Darikwa to chase.
Davids was struggling to assert his influence on the game and he was booked by referee Mr. Andy Davies for a lunching challenge on the Nottingham-born winger in the 65th minute - either that or he was asking him for an early autograph - before Bees substitute Edgar was replaced by Olly Lee with 20 minutes remaining. The home side had struggled to create a decent opening in the second half, but they came close to snatching the lead when Whitaker met Talbot's deep cross but he couldn't steer it on target with his weaker foot.
Westcarr was introduced alongside Lester with just over 15 minutes left, replacing Togwell after another typically industrious shift from the ex-Iron midfielder before on-loan Blackburn winger Micah Evans stepped off the bench for Darikwa as the new gaffer sought a winning start to his tenureship. Atkinson brushed the side net with a curling effort from the edge of the box and 10 minutes from time, Liam Ridehalgh's dangerous low cross trickled agonisingly across the face of the goal with both Westcarr and Lester's legs flailing.
Evans' cross was pushed over by Stack with 83 minutes on the clock as time began to run out and for all of their toil and endeavour, they were undone just two minutes from time when Byrne slammed home from the spot to give the Bees a flattering victory.
Chesterfield (4-2-3-1) O'Donnell; Talbot, Hird (c), Forbes, Ridehalgh; Akinson; Togwell (Westcarr 74); Darikwa (Evans 77), Smith (Randall 62), Whitaker; Lester.
Unused Subs - Wilson, Trotman, Clay, Boden.
Goals - N/A
Bookings - Hird (57)
Barnet (4-2-3-1) - Stack; Fuller, Pearce, Stephens, Brown; Kamdjo, Oster (Edgar 21 (Lee 71)); Byrne, Yiadom Davids; Hyde (Nurse 82).
Unused Subs - Cowler, Fortune, Abdulla, Johnson.
Goals - Byrne (Pen 88)
Bookings - Davids (65)
Referee - Mr. Andy Davies
Attendance - 5, 611 (162)