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Spireites Search for More Cup Glory 20 Years on

3 December 2016

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This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Spireites' run to the FA Cup semi-final during the 1996/97 season, and it's time to reminisce a little ahead of today's game.

The FA Cup returns this afternoon and Danny Wilson’s side take on Wycombe Wanderers at the Proact and a win would see Chesterfield into the third round. 

The club have reached the second round for the fifth straight campaign and with a home draw today have the chance of progressing towards emulating the results of their predecessors 20 years ago. 

It was home comforts that helped the Spireites through the early stages of the competition back in 1996/97. Their first round tie was against Bury, with the Shakers on a five-game unbeaten league run and in the play-off places pushing towards automatic promotion. 

The Shakers ended up winning the league but not the FA Cup tie with CFC. Bury had withstood everything the Spireites threw at them having cleared a couple of efforts off the line, though a Mark Williams header from a Jamie Hewitt corner saw John Duncan’s side deservedly through.  

Chesterfield were drawn at home again in the second round as division three Scarborough were the visitors. Kevin Davies opened the scoring for the Spireites with a delicious chip after doing well to win the ball off the defender. 

Tony Lormor won it for Chesterfield with 15 minutes to go when he wriggled his way into the box and squeezed the ball under the goalkeeper to cap a comfortable win. 

Another home draw followed in the third round, this time fellow division two side Bristol City were the opponents. Chesterfield began brightly and when Jon Howard burst towards the City goal in the first half it looked inevitable that he would give them the lead, but he was brought down just outside the box which resulted in a red card for Darren Barnard. 

Howard was the man who sent the Spireites through. He gave Chesterfield the lead in the second half after Andy Morris’ cross caused all sorts of problems, the ball eventually falling to the head of Howard. 

He got his second and the winner when he got on the end of Danny Holland’s shot, nicking the ball away from the 'keeper to seal the victory.

The fourth round presented a tough test. Chesterfield travelled to Burnden Park to play Bolton Wanderers, who went on to win promotion to the Premier League at the end of that season. 

It proved to be a memorable day for one Spireite in particular. This was the game striker Davies really made a name for himself, ironically against his future club. 

He gave the Spireites a shock early lead when he pounced on a ball over the top and slotted past the on-rushing goalkeeper. 

Bolton equalised later in the first half through Scott Taylor’s header, but Davies’ instincts again helped him when he took advantage of some sloppy passing from Bolton. He won the ball just outside the box and there was only going to be one winner as he coolly slotted the ball into the net down to the 'keeper's left.

Bolton then went in desperate search of an equaliser and more erratic passing saw Tom Curtis intercept and he sent Davies through again and the 'keeper had no chance in stopping his low drive and striker had a hat-trick. He went on to join Southampton later that summer.

Chesterfield went onto win 3-2 and were then handed an even tougher fifth round tie against top-flight Nottingham Forest. The Forest squad contained the likes of Dean Saunders, Kevin Campbell, Steve Stone and player/manager Stuart Pearce. 

Forest started strongly, having the better of the early chances but the Spireites came into the tie and got a foothold in the game with Davies and Howard causing plenty of problems for the Forest defence. 

The breakthrough came in the second half when Howard was clean through on goal and as he tried to go round Mark Crossley, the 'keeper brought down the striker and was subsequently sent off by referee David Elleray. 

Tom Curtis converted the penalty, Chesterfield were flying and could have doubled the lead if it wasn’t for last ditch goal-line clearance from Saunders. 

It was another all division two tie in the quarter-finals as Wrexham came to Saltergate. Chris Beaumont looped the ball over the 'keeper to score his second goal for the club in a tightly contested game. 

He would have had two if it wasn’t for the post but it didn’t matter as the Spireites set up a semi-final trip to Old Trafford against Middlesbrough and the fans raced onto the pitch to celebrate. 

Middlesbrough brought plenty of glamour with them, with the Brazilian flair of Emerson and Juninho along with the ex-Serie A superstars of Gianluca Festa and Fabrizio Ravanelli. It turned out to be one of the most exciting and entertaining FA Cup semi-finals in history. 

The Spireites took a deserved lead when Howard got in behind Clayton Blackmore, Davies then turned his low cross towards goal, Ben Roberts in the Boro goal pulled of a brilliant save but he could only parry it as far as Andy Morris who had a simple tap in to give Duncan’s men the lead. 

Morris had a big impact in Chesterfield’s second. He ran into the box, skipped past Festa only to be caught by the 'keeper and was brought down. Roberts was sent off as it got worse for Bryan Robson’s team. The captain Dyche stepped up and smashed his penalty low and hard down the middle. 

Despite going down to 10 men, the Premier League side responded and got one back when Ravanelli tapped in Blackmore’s cross. Then came one of the biggest talking points of the match. Howard found space and his powerful shot hit the underside of the crossbar and appeared to cross the line. The linesman gave the goal but the referee disallowed it.

The Spireites were hit with a double blow when Dyche clashed with Juninho in the box and the referee awarded a penalty. It was tricky to tell whether the Brazilian was actually in the box when contact, which was minimal, was made but from what should have been 3-1 became 2-2 as Craig Hignett scored from the spot. 

Boro then took the lead through Festa in extra time but the Spireites responded brilliantly and equalised in the 118th minute when Hewitt looped in a wonderful header that will live long in the memory. 

The Spireites lost the replay 3-0 but history was made for Chesterfield. 1996/97 also proved historic for Danny Wilson as he guided Barnsley to the top flight that year which could be a good omen for Chesterfield 20 years on with the opportunity to create more FA Cup memories. 

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