The Spireites fell to a 3-1 defeat in their first competitive outing of this campaign, as strikes from Nathan Clarke, Sam Jones and substitute Ben Davies rendered a fine Kristian Dennis finish in the closing stages as meaningless.
Clarke’s first-half header preceded a smart strike from Jones and despite a significant second-half contribution from Dennis, Ian Evatt’s late challenge on Harry Cardwell provided the opportunity required for Davies to step up and seal victory. In the final moments, Zak Mills received a red card after clashing with Dennis, but this had no impact on the final result.
Manager Gary Caldwell included seven summer recruits in his starting line-up with Joe Anyon, Scott Wiseman, Jordan Sinnott, Louis Reed, Robbie Weir, Chris O’Grady and Gozie Ugwu all handed debuts. There was also a place for teenage midfielder Charlie Wakefield, who was handed his first professional contract in May.
In the opening stages, O’Grady delivered from the left-hand side towards Ugwu who failed to make an adequate connection with the well-placed cross. Dion Donohue entered the referee’s notebook after just three minutes, as a consequence of a late and forceful challenge on the energetic Sikiri Dembele.
Impressive link-up play between Wakefield and O’Grady culminated in a driven delivery from the latter which found Sinnott, but the forward-thinking midfielder watched his strike bounce wide of the post. Sam Hird came to the rescue in blocking a powerful Jones strike on the line, which had by-passed Anyon, keeping the scores level.
Sinnott advanced before latching onto a neat through-ball and striking straight into the direction of James McKeown, forcing the opposing goalkeeper into a demanding reflex save from a matter of yards. Paul Dixon marauded down the left-hand side and produced an ambitious strike from distance, which failed to trouble Anyon who watched the ball sail well wide of the post.
On 33 minutes, Clarke opened the scoring to put the visitors in front after connecting with a corner-kick near the six-yard line and directing his powerful header past the helpless Anyon. Six minutes passed before the Mariners doubled their first-half advantage, as Jones pounced on Dembele’s exquisite pass and placed the ball underneath the stranded Anyon.
Just before the half-time whistle, Sinnott’s long-range strike sailed straight into the stands.
After the break, Dennis got in on the action with a first-time effort from inside the area which trickled low and wide of McKeown’s post. Once again, Sinnott picked up possession before evading his marker and striking narrowly wide of the post with the opposing goalkeeper rooted to the spot.
Danny Collins connected with a lofted pass and forced an impressive one-handed save from Anyon, who pushed the ball behind for a corner-kick. O’Grady, an obvious focal point in attack, took up possession and evaded his marker before being denied by a deflection which resulted in another corner-kick for the Spireites.
Pressure started to build for the Spireites as the second 45 minutes progressed, with several attempts and numerous corner-kicks thwarted due to Russell Slade’s organised defence. Sam Hird produced a volleyed effort after the ball fell kindly near the penalty spot, but a member of the opposition defence managed to block and the referee decided to ignore legitimate claims of hand-ball from the home support.
With seven minutes of normal time remaining, Dennis reduced the deficit with an instinctive strike from just inside the area which beat the flailing McKeown. Moments later, the visitors were awarded a penalty after Evatt brought down Cardwell as part of a last-ditch challenge. Davies, on as a substitute shortly before, converted the spot-kick by sending Anyon in the opposite direction to reinstate his side’s two-goal lead.
With three minutes left on the clock, Mills was dismissed after an unnecessary clash with Dennis. For the full six minutes of additional time, the visitors consolidated their position tp hold on and claim all three points.
Chesterfield: Anyon, Wiseman, Evatt (C), Hird, Donohue, Wakefield (Dennis 45’), Sinnott (Brewster 69’), Reed, Weir (McCourt 80’), O’Grady, Ugwu.
Unused Substitutes: Lee (GK), Maguire, Barry, Mitchell.
Grimsby Town: McKeown (GK), Mills, Dixon, Clarke (C), Collins, Rose, Berrett, Jones (Caldwell 80’), Dembele (Davies 75’), Kelly (Summerfield 56’), Vernon.
Unused Substitutes: Killip (GK), Osborne, Bolarinwa, Keeble.
Chesterfield – Dennis 83’.
Grimsby Town – Clarke 33’, Jones 39’.
Attendance: 7,925 (2,650 visiting supporters)