Chesterfield took a massive stride to Wembley as they overcame Fleetwood Town 3-1 in the Johnstone’s Paint northern area final.
After a frantic first half, Chesterfield gained a two goal advantage through Ian Evatt and Sam Morsy. While Fleetwood originally thought they had pulled a goal back through Jon Parkin's disallowed goal, David Ball did reduce the arrears just before the break.
As everyone caught their breath, Chesterfield came out in the second half with the wind on their back and extended their lead through Jimmy Ryan’s beautiful volley.
The Spireites held out to give them a strong advantage going into the second leg of the tie.
The game started at a frantic pace and Fleetwood thought they had opened the scoring in only the second minute of the game. Mark Roberts headed a cross into the bottom corner but the linesman flagged for offside to the relief of the Spireites.
Only a minute later and the home crowd were incensed as Charlie Taylor was bundled to the floor. The referee went to the left back and brandished a yellow card for diving.
As the game started to calm down, Chesterfield finally had their first opportunity of the game. A long ball over the top on the tenth minute allowed Eoin Doyle a sight of goal but the striker just dragged his shot wide.
Jon Parkin could have given the Cod Army the lead, 15 minutes into the game. The striker found space in the area but couldn’t direct his header goalwards and the chance was lost.
All the pressure again was coming from Fleetwood with Antoni Saracevic trying a speculative effort from 25 yards out, but it wasn’t troubling Tommy Lee.
Chesterfield took the lead on 21 minutes, against the run of play, as Evatt bundled home from six yards. Gary Roberts delivered a wicked free kick into the box and the ball seemed to roll down the defender’s leg to score his first of the season.
The goal gave the Spireites impetuous and they extended their lead a couple of minutes later. Doyle did well to pick out a cross; Banks’ effort was tipped by the goalkeeper to Morsy who rifled it into the top corner to send the Spireites fans into delirium.
With Chesterfield completely in control of the game, they looked to extend their lead and that is nearly what they had on the 35th minute. Ritchie Humphreys played the ball over the top and Doyle nicked the ball past the goalkeeper but unfortunately it just fell the wrong side of the post.
Controversy followed as Fleetwood thought they had got a goal back through Parkin. The striker bundled the ball into the goal to the fury of the Spireites players and after the referee consulted with his linesman, the goal was overruled.
Parkin was incensed by the decision and managed to talk himself into the referee’s notebook to become the second player booked in the half.
That decision seemed to lift the home players and supporters and just before the break, the Cod Army did finally have a goal back. Parkin flicked a header on to Ball who strongly nodded the ball past Lee, despite the goalkeepers best efforts.
Half time probably came at the right time for the Spireites as it gave them chance to regroup and assess the first half proceedings.
Taylor and Ball had early opportunities for the Cod Army as they looked to come out after the break full of purpose.
The Spireites made a change just five minutes into the second half as Dan Gardner was replaced by Drew Talbot, meaning Tendayi Darikwa moved into an attacking position.
After a calm ten minutes, the Spireites regained their two goal advantage through a spectacular effort from Ryan. The midfielder picked up the ball from a Fleetwood throw-in and unleashed a thunderous shot from 25 yards that nestled past the goalkeeper, going in off the post.
With fifteen minutes of the game remaining, the tireless Doyle was replaced by fellow strike partner, Marc Richards. Ryan was also replaced late on as Sam Hird entered the field.
Goalkeeper Lee received a booking late on for time-wasting but the Spireites held on and hold a commanding lead going into the second leg game in a couple of weeks.
Fleetwood Town: Davies, Murdoch (Evans 74'), Roberts (c), Pond, Parkin, Brown, Junior Brown, Goodall, McLaughlin, Sarsevic, Taylor, Ball (Mandron 68').
Subs not used: Schumacher, Hogan, Maxwell.
Chesterfield: Lee; Darikwa, Evatt (c), Cooper, Humphreys; Ryan (Hird 84'), Morsy, Gardner (Talbot 53'), Banks, Roberts; Doyle (Richards 74').
Subs: Dunbavin, O'Shea.
Goals: Fleetwood Town (Ball 45') 1 - 3 Chesterfield (Evatt 21', Morsy 24', Ryan 64')