Millwall Maul Sub-standard Spireites.
Chesterfield fell to a 3-1 defeat against Millwall at the Proact Stadium on Saturday afternoon, with a finish from Shane Ferguson and Steve Morison’s brace cancelling out a towering Sam Hird header.
In the opening moments, Shaun Williams struck the crossbar with a forceful effort from distance which left Ryan Fulton reeling. Gboly Ariyibi found space on the right-hand side before testing the reflexes of Jordan Archer, who held firm.
Marauding runs down the left-hand side are a prominent feature of Dan Gardner’s playing style, with an impressive dribble culminating in strong claims for hand-ball after a low cross was blocked by an opposing defender. Ched Evans got in on the action with a neat turn and strike from just inside the area, but failed to hit the target.
With 14 minutes on the clock, the visitors opened the scoring through Ferguson’s convincing finish around 20 yards after latching onto an inch-perfect through-ball which split the defence. Gardner almost put his side back on level terms just moments after the restart, as a stinging volley from distance sailed wide of the post by a matter of inches.
Involved once again, Evans took matters into his own hands with a powerful attempt from range which provoked an impressive block and earned Danny Wilson’s men a corner-kick. Scrambles in the Millwall area became frequent occurrences, but Ariyibi’s rushed effort was the closest the Spireites came to an equaliser for the duration of the first period.
Seven first-half minutes remained when the visitors doubled their advantage through Morison’s first finish of the afternoon, as acres of space provided the clinical forward with an ideal opportunity to fire past a helpless Fulton from just outside the area. Three minutes later, Morison put even more distance between the two sides and added to his own tally with a looping effort over a stranded Fulton in a one-on-one situation.
Just before the half-time whistle, Ariyibi struck low and wide of Archer's post.
After the break, Ian Evatt Rose highest to connect with a driven corner-kick and headed straight into the stands. Provided with a second chance in quick succession, the experienced defender picked up possession inside the area before firing waywardly wide of the post.
Rain began to fall heavily mid-way through the secone period, adding to the damp nature of Chesterfield’s performance. On 66 minutes, Hird came out of nowhere to meet a hopeful Jon Nolan delivery from a long-range free-kick and directed the ball past Archer who was firmly rooted to the spot for the entire passage of play.
Rife with belief after reducing the deficit, the Spireites began to build an immense amount of pressure on the Millwall defence as forced clearances became a regularity in an attempt to protect the two-goal lead. Reece Mitchell entered proceedings as a substitute and made an instant impression by evading his marker before drawing a cynical fouling, leading to a deserved booking for the visiting Williams who could feel no sense of injustice.
Moments later, Williams advanced into dangerous territory and tried his luck with a ferocious strike from 20 yards which left much to be desired in terms of accuracy or direction. Evans looked certain to latch onto a loose ball near the six-yard line, only for the opposing goalkeeper to display impressive reactions and recover possession for his side.
For all intent and purpose, Evans failed to find an adequate amount of space amongst an organised backline and was restricted to a single effort which came in the form of a free-kick from the unrealistic distance of 30 yards. Mitchell used his pace to gain an advantage on a less agile full-back and forced a save to the right-hand side from Archer, who displayed a level of quality above the usual requirement of goalkeepers in this division.
Until the final whistle, Millwall retained possession and sealed victory.
Chesterfield: Fulton (GK), McGinn, Evatt, Hird, Donohue, Liddle (C), Nolan, Gardner (Mitchell – 52’), O’Shea (Dennis – 59’), Ariyibi, Evans.
Unused Substitutes: Allinson (GK), Raglan, Daly, Dimaio, Simons.
Millwall: Archer (GK), Martin (Onyedinma – 58’) (Nelson – 45’), Craig (C), Williams, Worrall, Thompson, Romeo, Webster, Ferguson (Butcher – 82’), Morison, O’Brien.
Unused Substitutes: King (GK), Wylde, Abdou, Philpot.
Scoresheet: Ferguson – 14’, Morison – 38’/41’, Hird – 66’.