SPIREITES WANT WAR NOT PEACE
CHESTERFIELD boss Dean Saunders wants his players to get nasty to keep climbing the League One table – not just with opponents, but with each other too.
The Spireites came into this game with five defeats, and just one win, in their previous seven matches but headers from veterans Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Ian Evatt stunned Walsall.
Despite the win, inspirational Chesterfield captain Sam Morsy clashed with team-mate Dan Gardner at the final whistle but rather than defuse it, Saunders want to see more of that spirit.
Saunders said: “Sammy has words with everybody – he’s even done me in training!
“But you need people on the pitch who are not frightened of upsetting people – if someone’s not doing their job, Sammy tells them.
“It’s good and healthy for the group and it drives people on. Sam and Chris Herd are a match for anyone in midfield – they just want to win. We showed a different side to us, a bit of resilience.
“Last year I believe we got four points out of 24 against the top teams, which tells you that when the top teams throw the kitchen sink at you, we couldn’t resist. So this was a step forwards.”
Chesterfield were sharpest out of the blocks and just five minutes in Ebanks-Blake undid League One’s most miserly defence, finding space to head home Herd’s cross from eight yards.
Only the brilliance of Spireites keeper Tommy Lee kept Chesterfield ahead as he foiled Tom Bradshaw’s 15-yard snapshot and pushed a 25-yard Sam Mantom strike onto the post.When skipper Adam Chambers’ deflected 30-yard effort also hit the upright early in the second half,Walsall might have suspected it was not their day.
And, sure enough, Chesterfield doubled their lead on 54 minutes, Evatt heading home a far-post corner after a lengthy delay for treatment to Saddlers keeper Neil Etheridge.
Walsall’s day went from bad to worse, losing Mantom and defender Andy Taylor to injuries, while Etheridge was barely able to kick in the second half with a deep gash to his knee.
Centre-back Matt Preston lashed home a stoppage-time consolation for the Saddlers after they had hit the woodwork a third time through substitute Jordan Cook.
But it was not enough to prevent them surrendering top spot to Gillingham and frustrated boss Dean Smith said:“After 15 minutes in the first half it was attack vs defence.
“If we had scored earlier I would have fancied us to claw it back. I don’t think I’ve seen many teams try and kill the game off in the corner with 15 minutes to go!
“I don’t think we deserved to lose, but on the flip side I don’t think the players were at the standards they have been this season. “There were some uncharacteristic errors on the ball, but we’ve hit the woodwork three times.
“It was just one of those days for us.”