Read via the Chesterfield Post
Chesterfield maintained their excellent start to the season with an resounding 2-0 victory over in-form AFC Wimbledon at the Proact Stadium.
Goals either side of half time from Gary Roberts and Sam Hird secured Paul Cook’s side their sixth win from seven league games this term.
Chesterfield’s starting eleven remained unchanged from the side that beat Accrington Stanley, with new signing Gary McSheffrey making the bench following the 31-year-old’s arrival to the Proact Stadium on Friday.
McSheffrey joined Ian Evatt on the Chesterfield bench, with the club captain still yet to make his second Chesterfield debut following his return to fitness.
Wimbledon came into the match in a rich vein of form that had seen Neil Ardley’s side third in the table, two points behind league leaders Chesterfield after three consecutive wins which prompted high praise from Paul Cook in his programme notes.
Chesterfield started the match with blistering speed and precise passing, and the Spireites thought they had broken the deadlock after only five minutes.
A menacing delivery from the left wing by left-back Ritchie Humphreys found Marc Richards unmarked at the back post, the striker’s outstretched right foot guided the ball into the back of Ross Worner’s goal but was deemed offside by the linesman to deny Chesterfield a perfect start.
AFC Wimbledon had difficulty in finding a foothold in the game such was the intensity of the Spireites’ passing, much to the delight of the majority of the 6,353 in attendance at the Proact.
A neat interchange of one touch passing between midfielders Jimmy Ryan, Gary Roberts and Jay O’Shea found Humphreys again racing down the left flank. The left back’s cross forced a punch from Worner back into the path of Ryan, whose volley from the edge of the box was tipped round the post by the outstretched Wombles keeper.
Wimbledon had to wait until the 20th minute to have their first real chance on goal. Winger George Porter fed through Michael Smith with a clever pass from the left, only for Smith’s attempt on goal to be tipped round the post well by Chesterfield ‘keeper Tommy Lee.
Lee was soon called into action again and produced a fantastic double save to keep the score level. Sammy Moore split the Spireites defence to play Michael Smith through on goal, the on-loan Charlton forward’s two attempts were both denied by excellent reaction saves by the former Manchester United stopper.
Chesterfield enjoyed success down both wings throughout the first half, with Wimbledon full backs Jim Fenlon and Barry Fuller struggling to prevent a heavy onslaught of crosses.
A threatening delivery by Jay O’Shea from the right found Gary Roberts unmarked at the back post and August’s League Two player of the month slotted the ball home from eight yards for his fourth of the season after 29 minutes.
The home team continued to dominate proceedings after taking the lead. The holding midfield partnership of Sam Morsy and Jimmy Ryan again controlled the tempo of the game, quickly distributing the ball to the wide positions occupied by Tendayi Darikwa and Gary Roberts.
The Dons then had the chance to draw level just before half time. Blues defender Liam Cooper landed awkwardly from a header to leave a gap in the heart of the Chesterfield defence and Michael Smith found himself one-on-one with Tommy Lee, but the 21-year-old’s shot flew over the bar from close range in what was Wimbledon’s best chance of the first half.
Both sides remained unchanged for the second period and Chesterfield continued their first half momentum to nearly double the lead on 49 minutes.
Captain Drew Talbot sent Tendayi Darikwa down the right wing whose cross from the byline found Marc Richards unmarked at the back post, but last season’s top scorer missed from three yards out to the dismay of the Chesterfield support.
Only moments later however the Speireites did double the advantage with Sam Hird heading Gary Roberts’ cross back across goal to find the top corner for the 26-year-old’s first goal in twelve months.
Wimbledon could produce little in response and Chestefield enjoyed the majority of possession, coming close to scoring a third as Gary Roberts’ perfectly weighted through ball to Tendayi Darikwa was driven first time on to the post to deny Darikwa a third in three games, after 56 minutes.
Neil Ardley brought on fresh legs in Jack Midson and Chris Arthur on the hour mark, but the substitutions did little to dampen a flying Chesterfield performance.
A Gary Roberts free kick from the left was cleared into the path of Ritchie Humphreys who almost scored his first goal for the Spireites, the 35-year-old’s half volley fizzed agonisingly wide of the post.
The Dons then resorted to hopeful shots from distance as their frustration set in. Jim Fenlon cut in from the right to shoot from way out, but saw his effort fly wide of Tommy Lee’s near post.
Gary McSheffrey replaced Tendayi Darikwa in the 76th minute to make his debut following his arrival on a four month contract, as announced on Friday.
Chesterfield came close to squandering a third straight clean sheet as a defensive error set George Francomb through on goal, but Tommy Lee showed why he is rated as one of the best keepers in the division with a fine save at the feet of the Wimbledon winger after 80 minutes.
Eoin Doyle replaced Marc Richards and came close to scoring, but the Irishman could not convert Ritchie Humphrey’s cross from the left late on.
Chesterfield’s first team coach Kevin Lynch expressed his delight with the team’s performance after the match.
He said: ‘I thought it was an outstanding performance in terms of the football we played.
‘Some of the football we played and the commitment the players showed was outstanding.
‘Tommy Lee made some outstanding saves and, at the end there, Liam Cooper threw his neck on the line, followed by Sam Hird throwing his neck on the line and it just shows the commitment, the will to not concede a goal and it is full credit to the players.
‘Take nothing away from Wimbledon, I thought they came here and made a real game of it. We’re really pleased with the three points.’
Wimbledon manager Neil Ardley was effusive in his praise for Chesterfield’s performance. ‘I think the best team won on the day and that’s the benchmark for us now which shows us where we are.’
He added: ‘Ive got no complaints with the result and that’s one of the best teams in the league if not the [best team].’
The victory extends Chesterfield’s lead at the top of the SkyBet League Two to four points after Oxford drew with Cheltenham.
Paul Cook’s side travel to the Kassam Stadium to face Oxford on Saturday looking to continue their eye-catching early season form.