Away Win Ignites Play-Off Hopes
Chesterfield's pursuit of a play-off place took a huge boost on a sunny afternoon at Underhill. Second-half goals from Jay O'Shea and Sam Togwell secured the points on a day where the Spireites' promotion rivals all dropped points.
Exeter City, Fleetwood Town and Rotherham United all failed to pick up any points from their games, allowing Paul Cook's men to reduce to gap to the play-offs to just three points.
O'Shea broke the deadlock just before the hour mark with an emphatic strike into the top corner of Graham Stack's net before some good wing play from Tendayi Darikwa set up a tap-in for Togwell.
Paul Cook was sweating over the fitness of duo Marc Richards and Liam Cooper ahead of the game after both players hobbled off against Port Vale on Easter Monday.
Richards failed to recover from a twisted ankle and recently recalled Scott Boden came into the starting line up in his place. However, the positive news was that Cooper was able to shake of his injury in time to face the Bees.
Chesterfield started brightly and forced a smart save from Stack inside the opening five minutes. Midfielder Togwell picked up the ball 30 yards from goal and unleashed a thunderous drive which the former Arsenal stopper managed to tip behind.
The Bees tried to make an impression on the game going forward and forced a number of early corners, all of which were dealt with comfortably by the Spireites.
With both sides struggling to maintain any sort of rhythm in the opening 20 minutes, chances were at a premium. The Spireites did manage to engineer a couple of half-chances but they were unable to capitalise.
The hosts forced Tommy Lee into his first save of the afternoon on the half-hour mark. John Oster received the ball from a corner, cut inside, and struck a powerful effort at goal but Lee got down well in a crowded penalty area to push the ball away from danger.
Cook's men were trying to find a way past an organised Barnet defence with some neat passing. Mark Randall picked out Boden who, with his back to goal, teed up Darikwa on the edge of the area but his tame effort on goal was easy for Stack to gather.
Barnet, playing their penultimate game at Underhill, started to look dangerous going forward in the closing stages of the first half. Andy Yiadom powered down the right wing, thundered a low cross into the box and Neal Trotman was there to clear over his own crossbar. The hosts thought they had broken the deadlock from the resulting corner but Lee kept out Oster from close range.
The Bees ended the first half much the stronger side and almost took a lead into the break. A free-kick from the left was whipped in with pace and striker Jake Hyde couldn't turn it in or get out of the way of the ball and ended up clearing it away from danger. That was the last meaningful event of a pretty poor first half.
Barnet picked up where they left off the the second half. Edgar Davids drove forward from midfield, skipping past a couple of Chesterfield players, before his cross was claimed by Lee. Just moments later, Jon Nurse managed to turn inside the box and fire at goal but his effort was blocked by Cooper.
A call to "liven up" from the touchline was enforced on the pitch as Chesterfield came close to opening the scoring. Boden showed good movement in the box to receive the ball from Cooper and then neatly turned away from his marker before curling an effort towards the far corner, but the big frame of Stack got down to keep it out.
The Spireites went ahead in emphatic style, just moments later. Drew Talbot played the ball into the feet of O'Shea on the edge of the area and the Irishman showed his ability to turn a Barnet defender and rifle an effort over Stack and into the top corner.
That goal seemed to rattle Barnet and the home fans grew increasingly frustrated with aimless long balls forward.
The Bees managed to compose themselves though and almost found an equaliser through Mark Bryne. The winger was played clean through on goal by a fantastic defence-splitting pass, but Cooper got back to make a sensational last-ditch challenge to deny the home side.
Despite Barnet huffing and puffing, it was Chesterfield who struck next to double their lead with just over ten minutes remaining. A lovely piece of skill from Darikwa allowed him room to pick out Togwell in the box and the midfielder made no mistake from eight yards.
Togwell's strike was enough to kill-off Barnet's belief of getting anything from the game and they failed to threaten Lee's clean sheet in the closing minutes. A typically resolute defensive display provided a sure footing for the Spireites to go on and win a game which puts the play-offs back within touching distance.
Barnet (4-5-1): Stack; Yiadom, Flanagan, Stephens, Johnson; Byrne (Crawford 81), Oster, Davids, Weston, Nurse (Marsh-Brown 81); Hyde (Beattie).
Unused Subs: Gambin, N'Toko, Jenkins, Kuipers.
Chesterfield (4-4-2) - Lee; Talbot, Trotman, Cooper (c), Townsend; Darikwa, Randall (Henshall 90+1), Togwell, Whitaker (Hird 58); O'Shea (Clay 90+1), Boden.
Unused Subs: Barrington, Wafula, Lester.
Goals: O'Shea 57, Togwell 78
Referee: Mr. Stephen Martin
Attendance: 2, 574 (323 away)