Read via the Chesterfield Post
Chesterfield fittingly marked Ernie Moss Day at the Proact with a dominant 3-0 victory over Port Vale to maintain the Spireite’s notable winter form.
Armand Gnanduillet handed Chesterfield the lead with a back post header apt for the presence of Moss, the club’s all-time leading goalscorer, before Eoin Doyle doubled the lead from the spot. Charlie Raglan added a third deep into the second half to record his first goal for the club and seal a dominant display from the home side.
Paul Cook left his side unchanged from the 2-2 draw with Scunthorpe United in the FA Cup third round with Ritchie Humphreys continuing his run of games partnering Sam Morsy in the heart of midfield in the absence of Jimmy Ryan.
Former Spireite Robert Page brought his Vale side to North Derbyshire unchanged on the back of three wins out of four during the Christmas period, with only goal difference separating the two sides in the table.
The game started brightly with both sides creating early opportunities.
The 1,087 travelling fans saw winger Dany N’Guessan find space on the left wing to produce a threatening cross which asked early questions of Raglan and Sam Hird in the heart of Chesterfield’s defence, but the duo cleared the danger to deny forward Ben Williamson an early sniff at goal.
Moments later Morsy had consecutive shots from distance blocked as he looked to take the lead against his former employer operating in a more advanced role in front of Humphreys.
In the eighth minute the 7,034 strong crowd gave a minute’s applause in honour of Moss, who alongside his family and former team mates was in attendance on a day celebrating the career of a club legend to raise awareness of Pick’s Disease, a form of Dementia suffered by the 65-year-old.
Four minutes later Romy Boco capitalised on a weak defensive clearance and delivered an early cross from the left flank which found Gnanduillet unmarked at the back post to head the Spireites into an early lead, reminiscent of the centre forward play produced by Moss during his 461 appearances for the club.
The goal appeared to be a catalyst for a lift in tempo and aggression in the match, with full blooded challenges combining with a hostile atmosphere produced from the away end. Morsy and Gnanduillet both fell victim to late challenges before a tackle on Gary Roberts by Michael Brown saw the former Sheffield United midfielder as the first name in referee Darren Bond’s book.
Chesterfield found a more secure foothold in the game after the opening 15 minutes, with less possession afforded to the visitors as Cook’s side demonstrated their ability to play both directly and patiently.
Morsy was influential in his dictation of play while Roberts provided a creative spark in the final third, behind the improving Gnanduillet whose physical presence was proving difficult for Vale defenders Frederic Veseli and Richard Duffy.
On 19 minutes it was a knock down by Gnanduillet to Romy Boco which allowed the latter to strike from distance, but the effort sailed just wide of ‘keeper Chris Neal’s far post.
Despite having fewer meaningful spells of possession in the first half, Port Vale posed occasional threats from the wings, with Mark Marshall finding Louis Dodds from the left wing but the former Leicester prospect’s headed effort cleared Tommy Lee’s crossbar.
Moments later another chance fell to the visitors as Sam Clucas cleared a corner into the path of Duffy, only for the defender’s volley to fly wide of Lee’s upright.
The two half chances were all that would call Lee into action during a first half in which Chesterfield deserved more than a one goal advantage. Chances fell to Gnanduillet on 24 minutes and Roberts on 27 minutes but Neal did well to save and parry respectively.
Vale substituted N’Guessan for Colin Daniel at half time, in an attempt to present more of an attacking presence while the Spireites remained unchanged.
Chesterfield resumed the second half with the same attacking impetus as before the break. Roberts played in Boco in the 46th minute with a clever through ball, but the wingers run and subsequent shot was dealt with well by Neal.
Three minutes later the home side again came close as a threatening low cross by Morsy narrowly evaded the heads of both Gnanduillet and Eoin Doyle, who had been quiet during the first half with the majority of play focused around the Ivorian striker.
Port Vale could respond with little in terms of possession and chances of their own as they seemed to be overrun and outplayed in almost every area of the pitch in the second half, despite the introduction of target man Daniel. Midfielder Brown was neutralised from the game after his yellow card and was substituted on 55 minutes for Chris Lines.
On 59 minutes Doyle made a clever run to leave the defender on the wrong side of him and received a well-timed pass on the turn, prompting a challenge which left Doyle on the ground as the referee pointed to the spot.
The Irish marksman, amidst wide speculation about his future, stepped up and confidently struck the ball into the top corner for his 22nd goal of the campaign.
Chesterfield’s second settled any nerves and the side began to play with real confidence, leaving Vale chasing shadows.
Efforts from Doyle and Morsy threatened a third before the introductions of Ryan and Jay O’Shea for Humphreys and Boco injected further pace into the performance.
A notable passage of play which had the Chesterfield supports ‘olay’ing resulted in a Ryan thunderbolt from thirty yards, only for the effort to travel fractionally wide of the bottom corner in a move deserving of more.
On 69 minutes O’Shea delivered a corner to the near post which was met by the head of the hugely impressive Raglan, whose header beat Neal and nestled in the bottom corner for the defender’s first goal for Chesterfield against the club he was at as a schoolboy.
With the game all but comfortably won, Chesterfield held on to a fifth league clean sheet of the season as efforts from substitutes Campion and Daniel caused Lee no trouble, before Williamson clattered the cross bar late on, in what was otherwise an impressive defensive performance complemented by almost an exhibition second half attacking display.
After the match Paul Cook was keen to praise his side after an excellent victory which has left his side only a point adrift of the play off places.
The Chesterfield manager said: ‘It was a very good team performance. If you’re being critical we probably should have gone on and got a couple of more goals.
‘Port Vale are on a good run, they’ve had some smashing results against all the good teams in the league so three points today is a very pleasing factor for us all.
‘They’re in a good place our players at the minute and long may that continue.
‘Today I thought we were excellent, we have a lot of good players and the supporters are bouncing at the minute. It’s been a great day for Ernie Moss and his family so we will all go home happy tonight.’
The Spireites face Scunthorpe on Tuesday night in the FA Cup third round replay, with the winners earning the right to travel to SkyBet Championship high flyers Derby County in the fourth round.
Chesterfield (4-4-2): Lee; Darikwa, Raglan, Hird, Clucas; Boco, Morsy, Humphreys, Roberts; Gnanduillet, Doyle
Subs: Wright, Gardner, Ryan, O’Shea, Jones, Talbot, Dieseruvwe
Port Vale (4-4-1-1): Neal; Yates, Veseli, Duffy, Dickinson; Marshall, O’Connor, Brown, N’Guessan; Dodds; Williamson.
Subs: Johnson, Robertson, Birchall, Lines, Daniel, Moore, Campion
Referee: Darren Bond (Lancashire)
Attendance: 7,034 (1,087).