A brace from striker Cormac Noel along with a goal from Oliver Brock gave a make-shift Chesterfield side a 3-1 win over Hartlepool United at Chester-Le-Street on Saturday.
Noel’s two goals sees Chesterfield notch up back-to-back victories and go into Monday’s Midlands Youth Cup semi-final match with Walsall full of confidence.
Manager Dave Bentley made seven changes to the side that beat Rotherham 2-0 last week with under 16 players; Laurence Maguire, Jake Beesley and Mitchell Mullins replacing Joshua Scully, Jack Broadhead and Bradley Bowland.
It was the home side that started the brighter of the two, with full back Daniel Turner coming close to breaking the deadlock only for Spireites ‘keeper Cameron Mason to deny the defender with a great save.
The home side continued with their early dominance, midfielder Josh Nearney hit an effort from 25 yards over the bar after a well-defended corner.
Hartlepool’s goalkeeper was then forced into action, denying Cormac Noel. After some good work by Beesley, the forward found himself in space but hit his effort straight at the ‘keeper.
Chesterfield had the majority of the possession during the first half and made the most of it mid-way through. After some good passing in midfielder, Brock sprinted through the Hartlepool defence before unleashing a powerful shot from 20 yards which, after taking a deflection off a Hartlepool defender, looped over the keeper into the back of the net.
The hosts responded well and came close to grabbing an equaliser just moments later. The Spireites were caught on the Spireites on the break when Connor Halpin came close only to be denied again by Mason who pulled off another good save.
Hartlepool felt they should have had a penalty just before the break. Halpin found himself one-on-one with Mason after some good passing from the home side. In an attempt to round Mason, the striker went down under a challenge from the keeper, but the referee waved away his protests and booked the striker for diving.
The home side started the brighter of the two in the second half, Halpin again involved in the action, hitting a long rang effort over the bar.
Like in the first, Hartlepool continued with early dominance in the second half. Tom Mitchinson had an effort saved by Mason after a good team move.
Chesterfield were given a chance to double their lead minutes later when they were awarded a penalty of their own. After some lovely passing between Noel and Mullins, winger Ben Partridge was sent through against the Hartlepool keeper only to be brought down on the line, giving the referee no choice but to point to the spot.
Cormack Noel was the man to take the penalty and the striker slotted his shot into the bottom corner of the Hartlepool goal, sending the ‘keeper the wrong way.
Chesterfield came close again just moments later when full back Jamie McNicholas found some good space to unleash a hard effort that went whizzing over the bar.
The home side were then given a lifeline with just over 20 minutes remaining, after some good play and passing by Tom Mitchinson, Nearney was found unmarked and the midfielder placed the ball past the on-rushing Mason.
Despite being given a scare, Chesterfield continued to play the attractive passing game they had done so well before and came close to extending their lead through Fabien Johnson.
The midfielder was sent through on goal by substitute Tim Whittaker, thanks to a lovely pin point pass, but his shot was hit straight at the ‘keeper after a heavy first touch.
However it didn’t take long for the Spireites restored their two goal advantage, again thanks to Noel. The striker did well to gather space at the edge of the box before teeing up Brock for a shot, the midfielder’s effort was deflected back into the path of the unmarked Noel who slotted home.
Then Noel came agonizingly close to grabbing his hat-trick with just minutes left on the clock. After some good build up play, Noel found himself one-on-one with the keeper at a tight angle and after rounding the keeper his effort came back of the post.
Johnson, who had played well all game, gave Hartlepool another scare in stoppage time after wriggling through the Pools’ defence he unleashed a hard effort which was saved in spectacular fashion by the home keeper and kept the scores at 3-1 when the full time whistle was blown.
The result pleased manager Bentley who said: “I thought we were fantastic today, we played an inexperienced side with a lot of youngsters and they did exceptional, a real credit to this club.
“We played some good Football and scored some good goals, every player played well, we just have to hope now we can continue this ahead of the Walsall game on Monday.”
Chesterfield XI v Hartlepool: Mason, Slack, McNicholas, Maguire, Clarke, Johnson, Mullins (Whittaker), Brock, Partridge, Noel & Beesley (Mathers).
Next up for the young Spireites is an away trip to Walsall on Monday in the Midlands Youth Cup Semi-Final.