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Spireites Clinch First League Win

15 September 2012

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Goals from debutant Chris Atkinson, the evergreen Jack Lester and skipper Sam Hird gave the Spireites their first win of the 2012/13 League Two campaign at the sixth time of asking, as Tommy Wright's side cruised to a 3-1 victory over 10-man Wycombe Wanderers. 

The visitors were a man light after just nine minutes when Leon Johnson hauled down Marc Richards after he had capitalised on a loose ball to burst through on goal. 20-year-old Atkinson gave the hosts the lead just four minutes later, when he met Richards' cut-back with a thumping volley and Lester doubled Chesterfield's advantage after glancing Sam Togwell's vicious effort into the far corner midway through the first-half. Neal Trotman sliced into his own net with 19 minutes remaining to ensure a nervy finale, but captain Hird nodded his second goal in as many games five minutes from time to clinch the vital win that the Spireites' performances of late have merited.

The caretaker manager chose to make two changes to the side that were cruelly denied their first league victory in the fifth minute of stoppage time at Bootham Crescent last week, introducing Huddersfield loanee Atkinson into the heart of midfield alongside Sam Togwell and Lester partnered Richards in attack instead of youngster Jacob Hazel, who dropped to the bench.

43-year-old assistant manager Mark Crossley was forced to get his gloves back out as he was named amongst the substitutes last week, but Sunderland youngster Ben Wilson took his place after agreeing a loan deal at the Proact Stadium. For the visitors, ex-Spireite Dean Morgan was thrust into his first appearance for the Chairboys by manager Gary Waddock and 41-year-old goalkeeping coach Lee Harrison was also on the bench.

The Spireites had dispatched of Wanderers 4-1 and 4-0 respectively in the previous two encounters in Derbyshire and Wright would've been hoping for a repeat performance to kick-off his side's League Two campaign, but the visitors showed they weren't content to roll over when right-back Adam Thompson went flying through Richards as early as the seventh minute to earn himself a booking.

The hosts had the first chance of the game from the ensuing free-kick too, as Lester found Craig Westcarr on the left of the box but he could only drag his shot wide after he tangled Thompson's legs. Waddock's side were certainly competing well, but in the ninth minute they were reduced to 10-men when Richards showed Johnson a clean pair of heels and the former Gillingham man clipped him from behind to leave referee Mr. Tim Robinson with little choice but to reach for his back pocket. And it took the home side just four minutes with a one-man advantage to take the lead, but not before Richard O'Donnell had clung onto Jo Kuffour's header. Ex-Port Vale striker Richards had started the game brightly and it was his cross that was superbly volleyed home with aplomb by the onrushing Atkinson to give the Terriers youngster a dream debut.

Wright didn't have to wait long for his side to double their advantage either, as just six minutes later it was 2-0 courtesy of the talismanic Lester. Drew Talbot was enjoying the freedom of the park on the right-hand side after left-winger Matt Parsons was withdrawn in favour of defender Anthony Stewart, but it was the rampaging Terrell Forbes that had galloped down the flank and supplied a dangerous ball that Nikki Bull could only punch clear.

It fell kindly to Togwelll on the edge of the box and the former Scunthorpe midfielder executed a wonderfully-timed volley, which Lester glanced into the far corner with a vintage header. Chesterfield had given themselves room to breathe and they were now enjoying a stroll in the September sunshine with some sublime football, which culminated in Togwell driving at Bull after further link up play by Richards.

Trotman saw his deflected effort drift narrowly wide on the half-hour, before the Spireites again peppered Wycombe's goal with nine minutes remaining until the break. The hosts were playing some champagne stuff by now with the front pair of experienced  pros showing a great understanding and it was Richards once again that picked out Talbot this time, whose attempted scissor-kick was blocked before the former flicked an effort wide.

Like a boxer on the ropes, Wycombe were managing to hold on but they desperately needed the bell to go before the home side inflicted the killer blow. However, they did show signs of flickering back into life before the interval; the classy Matt Spring delivering several dangerous set-pieces and Joel Grant driving forward before Morgan was denied by Trotman and O'Donnell gathered Stuart Lewis' dipping volley.

But the whistle was greeted with rapturous applause by the Spireites faithful, who had been treated to the best half of football at the Proact so far this season. The Scotsman's side continued in a similar vein after the restart after forcing a succession of corners and 11 minutes into the second period they should have put the game to bed when the impressive Atkinson released Richards, but he couldn't pick out his strike-partner when he should have pulled the trigger.

Referee Mr. Robinson was then treated for cramp just shy of the hour-mark, before Forbes found himself in an advanced position and his goal-bound effort was deflected wide by what appeared to be the flailing arm of Stewart. With just under half an hour remaining, Wanderers were going to have to throw caution to the wind if they were to rescue anything from the game and it was tricky wide man Grant that was their shining light as he whipped one wide after embarking on a jinking run.

Talbot then miscued a couple of chances, before Wanderers found themselves a route back into the game via a freak own goal. Spring's dangerous set-pieces had always looked like Wycombe's best weapon and it was his floated delivery that caused Trotman to slice into his own net after O'Donnell had failed to gather with 19 minutes still to play.

Wright almost immediately withdrew Lester for Tendayi Darikwa - moving Westcarr up front and putting Talbot on the left - as he sought to secure the points and just like London buses, captain Hird scored his second goal in as many weeks after a three-year wait to clinch the Spireites' first three-point haul of the campaign.

Chesterfield (4-4-2) O'Donnell; Forbes, Trotman, Hird (c), Ridehalgh; Talbot, Atkinson (Randall 90), Togwell, Westcarr (Allott 86); Richards, Lester (Darikwa 73).

Unused Subs - Wilson, Clay, Boden, Hazel.

Bookings - Allott (89) Hird (90+3)

Goals - Atkinson (13) Lester (19) Hird (85)

Wycombe Wanderers (4-2-3-1) Bull; Thompson (Taylor 70), Johnson, Doherty (c), Dunne; Lewis, Spring; Grant, Parsons (Stewart 12), Morgan; Kuffour (Ainsworth 76)

Unused Subs - Foster, Harrison, Angol, Kewley-Graham.

Bookings - Thompson (7) Stewart (68) Dunne (83)

Sent Off - Johnson (9)

Goals- Trotman O.G (71)

Referee - Mr. Tim Robinson

Attendance - 5,113 (187 away)

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