WILSON AND HIS SPIREITES UPSET THE ODDS AGAIN
NOT many would have predicted second-placed Bolton slipping up at struggling Chesterfield, who found themselves second from bottom before yesterday’s game.
But a moment of inspiration from Gboly Ariyibi set up midfielder Liam O’Neil to sweep home his third goal of the season midway through the first-half.
It was the first meeting between these two sides since 1997 when the Spireites knocked Wanderers out the FA Cup on their way to a memorable, fairytale semi-final appearance.
Yesterday was also the Trotters’ first visit to Chesterfield’s Proact Stadium and thanks to O’Neil’s first-half strike it wasn’t a pleasant one.
And Spireites manager Danny Wilson could not hide his delight.
“Everyone knew how important it was to put a performance in against a very, very dangerous side,” explained Wilson.
“You can see why Bolton will be challenging up there come the end of the season, they’re strong, committed and have quality around some of the more physical players.
“We had to deal with different facets of the game but I felt we dealt with them very well and played some good stuff ourselves.
“We didn’t sit back and drain ourselves of energy, we still posed a threat going the other way.
“It is something that we have worked on (the goal), we need to get more players going forward from midfield and get more goals.”
The Spireites were full value for their victory despite Bolton having the majority of the ball throughout the game. The away side got into good positions on several occasions with talisman Zach Clough but he couldn’t make the most of any of the chances that came his way.
The most notable of those was just before the half-time break when he raced in behind the Chesterfield defence only to be thwarted by Spireites’ keeper Lloyd Allinson, who was making just his second league start.
The visitors’ best chance of the game came just past the hour mark.
Tom Thorpe laid the ball wide to that man Clough who shaped to bend the ball home but could only
fire into the travelling Trotters’ supporters.
Sammy Ameobi also threatened Allinson’s clean sheet when he cut inside on his favoured left foot but his effort flashed just wide of the post ten minutes from time.
Full-back Dion Donohue almost doubled the Spireites lead late on when his cross from the left-wing almost deceived Ben Alnwick but the Bolton keeper just scrambled back to tip the ball away from danger.
The last chance of the game fell to former Liverpool man Jay Spearing who ran onto Gary Madine’s knock down but the midfielder could only smash the ball high into the away end from 12 yards out and victory was secured for the Spireites.
It marked the last home game of 2016 for Chesterfield and the Proact Stadium erupted at the full-time whistle in appreciation of a fully committed and battling performance from the home side.
Bolton host Shrewsbury on Boxing Day as they look to get back on track and manager Phil Parkinson was quick to pay tribute to a plucky performance from their hosts.
“They did play like a team fighting for their lives in fairness to them,” he said.
“But whilst we didn’t play at our best we still had enough opportunities to win the game.
“Once they got the lead they played with a real hunger to keep hold of it.
“It became a very bitty and scrappy second-half and that’s how you’d want to make it from their point of view.
“Some of the lads think I’m just saying it for effect when I say every game is so tough.
“We are playing teams who have everything to play for so we certainly didn’t underestimate them.”
SCRAPPY: Chesterfield striker Ched Evans holds off Bolton defender David Wheater
ON THE UP: Chesterfield midfielder Liam O’Neil celebrates scoring the opening goal
BLANK: Zach Clough strikes in vain at goal