Spireites boss Danny Wilson was delighted after Liam O'Neill's goal gave Chesterfield a superb 1-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers.
O’Neil’s second goal in successive games, along with a resolute defensive display, ensured the Spireites claimed all three points against a team who many are tipping for promotion to the Sky Bet Championship.
“We knew we had to be at our best today,” he said “Speaking prior to the game our A-game had to come out and it certainly did, our defensive game in particular.
“We really nullified what was their big threat and you can see that they’ve got some big players in their side and they accommodate them very well and that makes it very difficult.
“They have the likes of [Zach] Clough and [Sammy] Ameobi on the deck who can open you up, so they’ve got different facets of the game to win games.
“But from our point of view we defended brilliantly today, and we were a threat ourselves going forward. There were one or two instances where we could have done better, but at the same time we did well and when we did take possession of them we used the ball intelligently today.”
The result sees Chesterfield climb out of the League One relegation zone heading into the festive fixtures, and confidence obtained from beating high-flying Wanderers will stand the Spireites in good stead heading into the festive period.
Wilson said: “This is a big confidence booster today no doubt about it and I think everyone and the fans really enjoyed the performance and it just goes to prove that we believe in what we said all along that we are capable of beating anyone in the league and today proves that.”
The game's only goal came in the 26th minute, when Gboly Ariyibi beat a Bolton defender before squaring the ball to O’Neil who found the top corner. O’Neil’s strike was his second in a week after netting against Peterborough United last time out, and Wilson is keen to see more goals from O’Neil and his midfield partner Connor Dimaio.
“We’ve been encouraging the two midfield players to get forward and support Ched [Evans], Gboly and Jay [O’Shea],” he said.
“We need to get bodies going forward if you’re going to win games and I thought Liam timed his run forward perfectly and it was a great ball from Gboly.”
There was also special praise reserved for the Spireites defenders and Sam Hird who returned to action for the first time since November, in a holding midfield role, following injury.
Wilson said: “You always build your success on clean sheets as Bolton have proved in the last two months.
“We knew we would need a screen in front of [Gary] Madine for large parts of the game, because he is key to how they want to play and is a real handful and very experienced in league football. We know he’s somebody who needs a lot of attention but also saying that we know what’s around him because they’ve got some quality in there, so all different parts of the game we had to be on our toes and really focus on when we were defending.
“Sam coming in gave us an extra defensive mind and that worked very well and he got in lots of times and stopped attacks at source, which was was good. He and the two boys who supported him in midfield were excellent today and that’s arguably the best they’ve played together and they posed a threat going forward as well.”
There was also a return to action for goalkeeper Lloyd Allinson, after Ryan Fulton missed the match through injury. Allinson produced an assured display which included a superb save from Clough shortly before the interval.
“He’s been waiting for his chance for a while and he got it today and did great,” Wilson said. “Lloyd was fantastic. He’s kept us in the game in the first half when Clough went through, he stood his ground brilliantly and pulled off a great save, and kept us in the game throughout as well.
"He looked confident coming to claim balls, his hands were clean and nothing came off him. He was dominant, so all in all he had a fantastic game, and that’s three clean sheets he’s been a part of and long may that continue.”
The result along with the impressive performance was the perfect early Christmas present for supporters and ensures the team goes into their match away at Rochdale on Boxing Day in buoyant mood.
Wilson added: “It’s a feel-good factor for everybody, isn’t it? The fans included. I think the whole club needed a boost like that. It’s a great performance to build on and hopefully by the time we play our next game we’ll be up and at them and ready for the next one.
“You’ve got to bring your A-game out and do as best as you possibly can. We don’t want to do that today and go to Rochdale next week and not do it again.
“Just because it’s Bolton and the reputation they have and because they’re at the top of the league, you know you have to play well. We are on a bit of a decent run at the moment, if you look at the last seven or eight games. We have done okay in terms of results including the cup and from our point of view we have got to make sure we build on that in the league.”