Ritchie Humphreys celebrated becoming a father for the second time as he scored Chesterfield’s only goal in their victory over Oxford.
The defender struck just before the half hour mark to preserve the Spireites lead at the top of Sky Bet League 2.
Chesterfield made one change from the side that beat Wimbledon last weekend. Marc Richards picked up a knock in training yesterday; meaning Eoin Doyle made his first league start of the season.
The game started at a relatively intense pace; however neither side troubled either goalkeeper. Drew Talbot crossed on the tenth minute but the ball was cleared by former Rotherham defender, Johnny Mullins.
Tendayi Darikwa created the first real opportunity of the game soon after. Talbot did well to get to the byline and his cross found Darikwa in space, but Oxford goalkeeper Ryan Clarke saved well to force a corner.
Chesterfield started to take control of proceedings and they went close to making the breakthrough. Doyle drove at the back four and drilled a shot across goal that had the Oxford goalkeeper scrambling.
The home side did nearly catch the Spireites on the break with two quick efforts. Former Spireite, Deane Smalley caused a lot of problems and he really should have put Oxford ahead. Alfie Potter crossed, but the striker’s header was just off target.
Humphreys, who was celebrating the birth of his son on Friday, capped a remarkable 24 hours by opening the scoring for Chesterfield. Doyle’s pinpoint cross found Humphreys with space in the box and the defender volleyed home from 12 yards to give the Spireites the lead on the half hour mark.
The goal had an effect on Chesterfield as they searched to increase their lead. Jimmy Ryan nearly connected on to a through ball from Darikwa, but unfortunately the pass was over hit.
Smalley had a the perfect chance to level the scores just before half time, as a stray shot fell into his path, but the striker didn’t test Tommy Lee in the Spireites goal.
Chesterfield started the second half as they did the first. Darikwa’s evaded the offside trap and his cut back fell to Jay O’Shea, but the Irishman’s shot was struck past the post.
The Spireites were forcing chance after chance. Darikwa, Doyle and O’Shea all had great opportunities, but the home defence stood firm and intercepted the potential openings.
The referee made himself very unpopular with the home crowd, brandishing a straight red card for Andy Whing. After a breakaway from Chesterfield, Doyle nicked the ball past the Oxford backline and the former Spireite lunged through the striker and earned himself a straight red card.
Chesterfield made their first substitution of the afternoon as Darikwa was replaced by Gary McSheffrey. The forward made an instant impact, pulling the ball back for O’Shea whose shot was expertly saved by the Oxford goalkeeper.
Some great passing in the midfield nearly presented Chesterfield with a second goal as Morsy played the ball through to Doyle; his shot rocketed towards goal, but the goalkeeper made a superb save.
Doyle’s afternoon came to an end as he was replaced by Frenchman, Armand Gnanduillet. He instantly made an impression, nearly getting on the end of a cross from O’Shea but the ball evaded.
Chesterfield were dealt a scare with ten minutes remaining as Oxford started to gain some momentum. Dave Kitson evaded the offside trap and delivered a ball into the box, it found the head of Smalley, whose header thundered off the post to the relief of the Spireites.
As four minutes of added on time were signalled, Jamie Devitt was introduced for his first appearance in a Chesterfield shirt, replacing O’Shea.
Sam Hird was booked in the final minute of added on time for a body check, 30 yards from goal and the resulting free kick was blasted into the crowd to the roar of the Spireites faithful.
Oxford United: Clarke, Newey, Raynes (Davies 72'), Kitson, Smalley, Potter, Hunt, Hall (Rigg 53'), Whing (c), Rose (Ruffels 90+2), Mullins.
Subs not used: Williams, Jalal, Shama, Bevans.
Chesterfield: Lee; Talbot (c), Hird, Cooper, Humphreys; Ryan, Morsy, Roberts, O'Shea (90+2 Devitt), Darikwa (McSheffrey 71'); Doyle (Gnanduillet 83').
Subs not used: Chapman, Edwards, Evatt, Togwell.
Goals: Oxford United 0 - 1 Chesterfield (Humphreys 30')
Attendance: 7,187 (Chesterfield 1,066)