Last-Minute Heartbreak for ChesterfieldChesterfield were left distraught as they conceded two goals in as many stoppage time minutes to draw 2-2 with Rochdale.
All looked comfortable for the Spireites as Gary Roberts and Marc Richards looked to have put the home side in sight of victory.
However, in the dying minutes of the game, referee Andy D’Urso brandished Richards with a red card and Ian Henderson subsequently slotted the penalty past the goalkeeper to give Dale a shout.
The visitors then piled on the pressure and Peter Vincenti rose highest at a corner in the final second to seal Rochdale a share of the spoils.
The sides started the game evenly matched, but it was Chesterfield that had the first chance of the evening. Roberts crossed for Ollie Banks, but the midfielder’s header just glanced wide of the post.
Minutes later, Tommy Lee had to be on full alert as he superbly kept out an Henderson header that was goal-bound. The forward just nicked in front of the defender but the Spireites stopper knocked the ball away from danger.
Rochdale were forced into an early change as Rhys Bennett replaced injured captain, Oliver Lancashire.
As the game started to calm down, Jay O’Shea’s free kick and Jimmy Ryan’s speculative effort from 25 yards were the only real chances of note.
With the rain pouring, Richards was presented with the best opportunity of the half ten minutes from the break. Roberts’ deflected cross zipped off the surface, past the Jack O’Connell in the defence but the striker couldn’t control his effort in the conditions and the chance passed him by.
Only a minute later and the Spireites took the lead through in-form Roberts. O’Shea’s drive towards goal fell straight into the path of the winger who coolly slotted past Josh Lillis to score his sixth league goal of the season.
Just after the goal, Chesterfield went in search of another and were nearly rewarded five minutes from the break. Richards again found himself with a sight of goal but the striker was adjudged to have handled in the process, breaking down the attack.
Half time signalled a reshuffle for both sides as Drew Talbot was replaced by Sam Hird and Vincenti was introduced in place of Graham Cummins for Dale.
Henderson had the first real opportunity of note for the visitors, ten minutes into the second half. Vincenti nodded the ball into his path but the forward's effort was off target and not troubling Lee.
With Chesterfield starting to dominate possession, it was the visitors that possibly had the best of the opportunities. Rochdale caused a succession of corners which were well dealt with by the Spireites defence.
With just over 20 minutes of the game remaining, Chesterfield made their second change of the evening as captain Ian Evatt was replaced by Tendayi Darikwa.
The Spireites doubled their lead only seconds later through Richards. Great work in the midfield by Jimmy Ryan set Banks free, who drove at the defence. His shot rebounded off the post and after a mêlée in the box; Richards got the final touch to poke home his eighth league goal of the season.
Banks was replaced on 77 minutes to a standing ovation from the Chesterfield fans with Armand Gnanduillet coming on in his place.
Just as Chesterfield looked comfortable, they were struck by two late goals. After a goal mouth scramble, the visitors were awarded a penalty in the final minute as Richards was adjudged to have handled on the line. The referee sent the striker off and Henderson dispatched the penalty clinically past Lee.
Seconds later, and after Rochdale pressure, Dale equalised in the final moments of the game. Goalscorer Henderson crossed for Vincenti who thundered his header past Lee to snatch a point right at the death.
Chesterfield: Lee; Talbot (Hird 45'), Evatt (Darikwa 67'), Cooper, Smith; Ryan, Morsy, O'Shea, Banks (Gnanduillet 78'), Roberts; Richards.
Subs not used: Dunbavin, Humphreys, Gardner, Doyle.
Rochdale: Lillis, Rafferty, Lancashire (c)(Bennett 15'), Hogan, Lund (Donnelly 72'), Done, O'Connell, Cummins (Vincenti 45'), Dicker, Bunney, Henderson.
Subs not used: Thomson, Eastham, Allen, Rose.
Goals: Chesterfield (Roberts 39', Richards 68') 2 - 2 (90+1' Henderson PEN, Vincenti 90+3') Rochdale
Attendance: 5,078 (352 Rochdale)