Spireites Inflict Wolves Woe.
Chesterfield recorded a 2-1 victory against a Wolverhampton Wanderers U23 side in their first Checkatrade Trophy outing, courtesy of finishes from Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Kristian Dennis which labelled Christian Herc’s second-half strike as meaningless.
Ethan Ebanks-Landell suffered a deserved dismissal during the first period, aiding the cause along with a missed penalty in the final minute of normal time that enabled the Spireites to avoid the issue of extra time in this mid-week contest.
In the opening moments, Ebanks-Blake connected with a driven cross and failed to test Jon Flatt with a header that sailed straight into the stands. Gboly Ariyibi evaded two opposing defenders before producing a low delivery, but no fellow member of the attack arrived to make an all-important touch on the six-yard line.
Involved in each significant move forward, Dan Gardner’s first attempt came in the form of a strike from distance which evaded the crossbar by a matter of inches. On 22 minutes, the visitors put the ball in the back of Lloyd Allinson’s net as Nouha Dicko reacted quickest on the six-yard line despite the flag being raised for an off-side call.
Moments later, the Spireites took the lead courtesy of Ebanks-Blake’s instinctive finish after meeting an inch-perfect Ian Evatt knock-down from a looping corner-kick. With 28 minutes on the clock, Ebanks-Landell was dismissed as a consequence of a forceful and ultimately late challenge on Jon Nolan who had no chance of avoiding the collision.
Taking up free-kick duties from a considerable distance, visiting captain Connor Ronan forced Allinson into diving action with a powerful effort that sailed narrowly wide of the post due to an unexpected deflection. Liam Graham found himself in an advanced position and opted to deliver with conviction, despite the end result being a simple clearance.
Waiting near the penalty spot until the appropriate moment to rise allowed Ebanks-Blake a rare opportunity to head towards goal for a man of his size, but the disappointing end product was the ideal metaphor of the striker’s time in Derbyshire. Ariyibi seemed reluctant to sprint at full speed throughout, which could be viewed as a strong indication that the winger will indeed be moving to pastures new before the Summer transfer window closes.
Just before the half-time whistle, Nolan’s lofted through-ball failed to reach Rai Simons.
After the break, Evatt was first to meet a delivery but never worried Flatt with a headed attempt which was always rising. Ebanks-Blake looked almost certain to double the Spireites’ lead after wrong-footing his marker, although the ex-Wolves frontman rushed his effort and ended up watching the ball sail out of play.
Similar opportunities continued to present themselves to Ebanks-Blake, with a series of strikes after a first-half finish serving as a reminder of the lack of appearances during this campaign. Graham tried his luck from distance and in typical full-back fashion, the ball continued to rise and Flatt prepared himself for a goal-kick.
Willingness to run the channel is a valuable trait and opposing forward Donovan Wilson caused serious problems for the Spireites’ defence, with multiple efforts only being denied by Allinson’s determination to record a clean sheet on his competitive debut for the club. Dennis picked up possession before feeding a pass towards Derek Daly, who was relieved of the ball by a perfectly-timed sliding tackle on the left-hand side.
With 15 minutes of normal time remaining, the away side levelled the scoreline through Herc’s unexpected yet impressive strike from 20 yards that beat Allinson all-ends-up and sent the small travelling contingent into raptures. Immediately after the restart, Dennis reinstated Chesterfield’s lead with a half-volley from just outside the area which nestled straight into the top right-hand corner of Flatt’s net who was unable to save.
Zeal would be a characteristic associated with Dion Donohue, but the left-back’s level of enthusiasm could not make up for a lack of quality when in an advanced position as a tame strike trickled wide of the opposing goalkeeper’s post. Aaron Hayden, another defender but on the visiting side, worried Allinson with a looping header which struck the post before and eventual clearance restored calm amongst Danny Wilson’s second-choice backline.
Just a single minute remained when Charlie Raglan gifted the visitors with a penalty-kick as a result of a late challenge, but the post came to the defender’s rescue due to Collins’s inability to convert from the spot in the closing stages.
Chesterfield: Allinson (GK), Graham, Raglan, Evatt (C), Donohue, Dimaio, Nolan (Maguire – 80’), Ariyibi (Daly – 45’), Gardner, Ebanks-Blake, Simons (Dennis – 61’).
Unused Substitutes: Fulton (GK), Ofoegbu, German, Beesley.
Wolverhampton Wanderers U23: Flatt (GK), Simpson, O’Hanlon, Ebanks-Landell, Johnson, Gibbs-White (Hayden – 30’), Herc, Randall, Enobakhare (Collins – 82’), Ronan (C), Dicko (Wilson – 65’).
Unused Substitutes: Odoffin, Burgoyne, Leak, McKenna.
Scoresheet: Ebanks-Blake – 24’, Herc – 75’, Dennis – 76’).