COOK RUMOUR GATHERS PACE
BRISTOL CITY stamped their Championship quality on Chesterfield’s ‘flat’ play-off party, according to Spireites assistant boss Liam Richardson.
Goals in either half from Kieran Agard and Aden Flint won the day, yet Rochdale’s defeat by MK Dons means the Spireites deservedly booked their ticket to the play-offs.
Strong rumours that manager Paul Cook is about to depart for Portsmouth were not the only reason for assistant boss Richardson’s caution afterwards.
With questions about their future officially off limits, Richardson said: “We do feel a bit flat because we go out to win games and we didn’t. We have touched where we want to be but we wanted to go all the way to Wembley without losing now.
“It was a great game with nothing in it for the first half hour – they were two sloppy goals from our point of view.
“You have to give credit though to Bristol City – they played well and that’s why they are champions.
“We matched them in certain parts and you can never fault us for effort. Now it’s on to the next challenge.”
Chesterfield opened with energy although they were kept at arm’s length by the composed City back three.
When Jimmy Ryan did test Frank Fielding with a low shot after a neat exchange with John O’Shea after 26 minutes, it rumbled the champions into their first direct threat with Tommy Lee saving a left footer from Joe Bryan.
Soothing news from Rochdale was then dampened for the Spireites as Agard danced round Tendayi Darikwa to slide City in front – a lead he would have doubled in first-half injury time but for a smart save by Lee as Jay Emmanuel-Thomas began to twinkle.
Sam Clucas forced Fielding into a good save at close range in the 55th minute but again the visitors responded in style. Marlon Pack’s left-wing corner was met by a towering header by Flint to add gloss to his commanding performance.
City stroked the ball around with real arrogance to further delight their large away following.
With the strikers making little head way, it was left to Gary Roberts to offer a further Chester- field threat. He thundered a cracking 25-yarder against the bar and curled a late freekick just over.
City boss Steve Cotterill said: “I’ve been proud of my players on many occasions – but I’m even prouder now that we’ve come to a tough place when our destiny was settled and put on a performance like that.
“We did right by Rochdale by showing that level of commitment.
“Chesterfield gave us a a tighter game earlier in the season but, as we’ve played teams for a second time, I think we’ve shown we have improved. “They are a good team – and will give anyone a good game in the play offs – but without doubt we were the better side in the game.”
HAVE THAT: Bristol City’s Aden Flint scores his side’s second goal
QUALITY FINISH: Bristol City’s Kieran Agard scores