Goalless At Sixfields
Chesterfield extended their unbeaten run to eight games, as they battled to a hard-fought 0-0 draw against Northampton Town at Sixfields. Spireites striker Jack Lester came closest to snatching the spoils for either side, when he thumped the crossbar with his weaker foot narrowly before half-time.
Caretaker manager Tommy Wright remains unbeaten during his temporary tenure, having now won three at home and drawn all three on the road, as neither side could manage to inflict the killer blow in what was in truth, a poor game.
Wright chose to make just one change to the side that edged past an impressive Accrington Stanley on Tuesday night, introducing youngster Tendayi Darikwa on the right-hand side following a series of impressive cameos this season in place of the injured Marc Richards. As a result, Drew Talbot shuffled over to the left and Craig Westcarr moved forward to partner Lester in attack. Danny Whitaker returned from a groin injury, but he was deemed only fit enough for a place on the bench alongside academy prospect Jonathan Wafula.
Aidy Boothroyd's side had been in good form on home soil, losing just once against Championship newcomers Wolverhampton Wanderers in the the second round of the Capital One Cup, but the Scotsman was yet to taste defeat in his five-game spell in charge of the Spireites. It was indeed the Cobblers who made their intentions clear from the off though, as they forced a succession of corners culminating in Luke Guttridge firing high, wide and not at all handsome.
It was evident in the early stages that the home side would try and get the ball into the gargantuan Adebayo Akinfenwa as quickly as possible and work off the front man, as the visitors had to be content with playing on the break and Westcarr sprung the Town offside trap in the 16th minute, but Lester's first touch eluded him and the chance got away. The former Notts County man flicked Sam Togwell's long-throw goal-wards shortly after and then got himself booked for attempting to block Lee Nicholls' early punt forward.
Chances had been at a premium during the opening half an hour - Sam Hird blocking Ishmel Demontagnac's shot en route to goal about the best either side could muster - but nonetheless, caretaker boss Wright would have been pleased with the way his side had dealt with the direct nature of the hosts. His side then conjured up arguably the best opportunity of the game so far in the 32nd minute when Togwell burst through on goal after Lester's cushioned header, but he could only angle his shot wide.
Spireites skipper Hird had ended his three-year goal drought with two in as many games against York and Wycombe respectively and he came close to adding to his tally for the season when he forced Nicholls into a routine stop from Westcarr's deep free-kick 11 minutes before the break, ahead of him receiving treatment after he landed awkwardly following a collision with Akinfenwa.
O'Donnell was forced into this first meaningful stop of the afternoon four minutes shy of the half, when he got down well to deny Alex Nicholls' low drive and the former Walsall striker lashed one wide shortly after. But it was the visitors who were desperately unlucky not to snatch the lead on the stroke of half-time, when Lester received the ball off Westcarr before finding an inch of space to thump the crossbar with a left-footed effort.
But a largely uneventful opening period came to a close delicately poised, with it looking as though a solitary strike would be enough for either side to clinch the points. The game had threatened to spring into life in the build-up to half time, though the fun fair behind the home fans looked as though it would have been more exhilarating than matters on the pitch at Sixfields and the second-half began in a similar vain.
Chesterfield forced their first corner in front of the travelling fans in the 58th minute, but Westcarr's far-post delivery drifted harmlessly out of play before Lester curled straight at Nicholls. The game was showing signs of opening up with half an hour remaining, with the old cliche that either a mistake or a moment of magic could decide the outcome and predictably, it was the veteran striker Lester that looked the most likely to be the difference as he strung the fingertips of Nicholls with a fizzing volley.
The voices of an impressive travelling contingent of just over 600 could now be heard as they sensed the Spireites could nick the decisive goal, as the home side began to get restless with their side failing to break the visitors' firm resistance. Both Liam Ridehalgh and Westcarr delivered teasing balls from either side that were well defended and with 15 minutes left Trotman was harshly booked for allegedly upending Akinfenwa.
Lester made way for Whitaker, who dropped in behind Westcarr in a 4-2-3-1 as the Spireites attempted to protect the point they had thus far deserved, before Chris Hackett fired a warning sign over O'Donnell's bar. Talbot then forced a corner on the far side, which was eventually cleared while at the other end, O'Donnell reacted superbly to deny Cobblers' captain Kevin Langmead from point blank range.
Hackett had a chance to win it right at the death for Boothroyd's side, but he drilled his effort into the wall and ultimately, both sides had to be content to settle for a point apiece as Chesterfield remain without a win on the road so far this season.
Northampton Town (4-4-2) - Nicholls; East, Artell, Langmead (c), Widdowson; Hackett, Gutteridge, Tozer, Demontagnac (Moult 75); Akinfenwa, Nicholls.
Unused Subs - Johnson, Charles, Snedker, Mukendi, Wilson.
Bookings - N/A
Goals - N/A
Chesterfield (4-4-2) - O'Donnell; Forbes, Trotman, Hird (c), Ridehalgh; Darikwa, Atkinson (Allott 90+1), Togwell, Talbot; Lester (Whitaker 75), Westcarr.
Unused Subs - Clay, Hazel, Wafula, Randall, Wilson.
Bookings - Westcarr (19) Trotman (75) Forbes (90+2)
Referee - Mr. Jeremy Simpson
Attendance - 4,709 (614 away)