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First Half Double Sinks Spireites

18 March 2017

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Two first half goals from Ollie Clarke and Rory Gaffney were enough to condemn Chesterfield to a 2-1 defeat at Bristol Rovers.

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake replied with his second goal in a week but it was too late, to give the Spireites a glimmer of hope, but that was only because Thorsten Stuckmann saved a first half penalty, and pulled off a few fine saves to keep it at just two. 

The game couldn’t have got off to a worse start for Chesterfield, as the ball fell to Clarke who rifled the ball into the bottom corner, after the Spireites failed to clear a cross from the left with less than a minute played. 

Gary Caldwell’s men responded well to falling behind, and after a good spell of possession they had their first chance in the eighth minute, when Kristian Dennis fired a shot towards goal from Dan Jones’ short corner but it was well blocked. 

They couldn’t maintain that brief phase of possession and the Gas came back and doubled their lead when Luke James set up Gaffney, who coolly the ball to Stuckmann’s right on 18 minutes. 

Again, Chesterfield did respond reasonably well to a further set back and after a couple of shots from Dennis and Ebanks-Blake were blocked, the ball fell to Jon Nolan who drilled a low shot wide. 

It was closed to being worse for the away team, as Stuckmann pulled off an excellent save to turn away Dan Leadbitter’s curling effort. He also did well to deny James who struck well from 25 yards on the half hour mark.

Stuckmann completed a hat-trick of good saves in the first half when he palmed away Gaffney’s shot after he was put through by Clarke four minutes later. 

The home team were awarded a penalty 12 minutes before half time when Tom Anderson was alleged to have pushed James, in what looked a soft decision. 

The German yet again came to the Spireites rescue and punched away James’ spot kick to keep up his 100% record of saving penalties in a Chesterfield shirt. 

Chesterfield began the second half better than the first. 

They stood firm as Rovers put them under pressure, and 10 minutes in Caldwell’s team won a corner. Dion Donohue sent the ball in and Ebanks-Blake had a shot blocked before Anderson followed in with a header, which forced the ‘keeper to make a decent stop. 

The manager brought on Connor Dimaio and David Faupala in an attempt to add impetus up front, and the Frenchman started brightly creating an opportunity on 66 minutes, when he galloped down the left and sent in a low early cross which was met by Rai Simons, but he lashed the ball over the bar. 

Bristol should have put the game to bed with 14 minutes to go when Nolan’s poor clearance fell straight to Gaffney who had plenty of time to take a shot. He tried to bend the ball into the top corner but he fluffed his lines and it went well over the bar. 

The game appeared to be slipping away for the Spireites, but they got a lifeline five minutes from time. Faupala burst forward from the half way line and made it to the edge of the box. The ball fell to Dimaio who slipped in Ebanks-Blake and the striker curled the ball beautifully into the bottom corner to give the boys from the Proact hope.

Chesterfield threw Anderson up front and were piling on the pressure, with plenty of crosses going in the Bristol box. They were however, caught on the break with Easter sprinting towards the box. He cut the ball back to Byron Moore who teed up Kris Lines, who forced Stuckmann to tip over his bar. 

That proved to be the final attack of them game and it was frustration for Chesterfield who lost their two match unbeaten run.

Bristol Rovers: Lumley, Leadbitter, Brown, Lockyer (C), Clarke, Lines, Montano (Mansell), Bodin, James (Moore), Gaffney (Easter), Sweeney.

Subs not used: Mildenhall (gk), Mansell, Harris, Easter, Moore, Burn, Clarke-Salter.

Chesterfield: Stuckmann, McGinn, Jones, Hird (C), Ebanks-Blake, Nolan, Donohue, Dennis (Faupala), Simons (Gardner), Anderson, Kakay (Dimaio).

Subs not used: Fulton (gk), Angel, Mitchell, Grimshaw.

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