Chesterfield were denied by three points in a 1-1 draw with Crawley Town, despite Gary Roberts giving the Spireites a lead on the hour mark.Roberts opened the scoring for the afternoon when he carried the ball forward before drilling home from the edge of the area, but Gavin Tomlin equalised with a cleverly-taken finish following a Charlie Raglan slip, snatching a point away from Chesterfield.
Making matters worse, both Daniel Jones and Izale McLeod were given their marching orders in stoppage time after an altercation off of the ball.
The Spireites were looking to build on last weekend’s derby day victory against Barnsley as they headed to West Sussex hoping to condemn Crawley Town to their first defeat in five fixtures.
An encouraging start by Paul Cook’s side very nearly saw an early goal for Chesterfield following an Eoin Doyle centre, but unfortunately Roberts wasn’t quite on hand to give the visitors the lead in the first ever competitive fixture between the two sides.
After the promising beginning to the fixture by Chesterfield, the Spireites were nearly caught cold on the counter as Crawley created their first opening of the game, but midfielder Jimmy Smith could only smash the ball on to the upright from a tight angle.
In an increasingly open contest, the Spireites were a constant threat on the break with Roberts at the heart of everything, and after he carried the ball the length of the pitch, his deflected effort fell perfectly into the hands of Lewis Price in the Red Devils’ goal.
Soon after it was the home side who yet again nearly took the lead as they rattled the frame of the goal for the second time in the game. Tricky wing play by Gavin Tomlin allowed Ryan Dickinson to find himself with the goal at his mercy, but his glancing header clipped the post and the Spireites were able to clear.
Chesterfield were reacting well to the pressure, and if it wasn’t for journeyman Dean Leacock, the Spireites would have taken the lead. A tidy passage of play down the left created an opening for Jay O’Shea at the back post, but his drilled effort was cleared off of the line by the Crawley defender.
The Spireites looked to be of the belief that the best way to break through the Crawley defence was by maintaining the intricate passing style in the opposition’s half which the squad have used throughout the campaign, and a delicate and clever move nearly brought about the first goal of the afternoon, as a quick free-kick by O’Shea presented Roberts with an opportunity but his goal-bound strike was blocked well.
A rejuvenated Crawley came out after the break the brighter of the two sides, as some early sustained pressure created an opportunity for midfielder Gwion Edwards to let aim on the edge of the area, but Tommy Lee got down and parried the ball wide of the post.
Despite Crawley’s domination in the second period, Chesterfield were the side that grabbed the opener. Roberts was able to pounce on a loose ball in the middle of the park, and drove forward before he lashed the ball into the bottom corner from range.
The Spireites’ goal temporarily killed off the Crawley threat, and it was substitute Armand Gnanduillet who nearly doubled the visitors’ advantage, but his looping header was stopped well by a diving Price.
After his arrival from of the bench, Gnanduillet had been caused the Crawley backline all sorts of problems, and after Roberts’ cut back to the big forward on the edge of the area, the Frenchman was unlucky to see his shot drift just over.
Following Roberts’ goal Chesterfield had looked comfortable at the back, but on occasions one goal isn’t enough, and after Tomlin was released through the middle by Raglan's unfortunate slip, he was given the simple task of dinking the ball over the onrushing Lee and level the scores.
The Spireites required a swift response if they were to go on and win the game, and after a clever reverse pass from full-back Jones, Roberts’ fierce strike was spectacularly saved by Price as he tipped over from close-range.
As the hotly-contested match reached its climax, both sides were reduced to ten men following an off the ball incident involving Jones and McLeod, with both players heading to the dressing room early - the fixture ending level.
Crawley Town: Price (gk) - Oyebanjo, Dickson, Leacock, Walsh (c) - Keane, Bawling (Young 65’), Smith, Edwards – Tomlin (Miller 84’), McLeod
Subs not used: Jensen (gk), Henderson, Bradley, Banya, Elliot
Chesterfield: Lee (gk) - Darikwa, Evatt (c) (Margreitter 56’), Raglan, Jones - Ryan, Morsy, Roberts, O’Shea (Gnanduillet 56’), Clucas (Humphreys 77’) - Doyle
Subs not used: Wright (gk), Boco, Ariyibi, Gardner.
Crawley Town: Tomlin 70’
Chesterfield: Roberts 58’
Attendance: 2459 (403 away)