Town 1 Chesterfield 2
Town: Jayson Leutwiler, Matt Tootle, Mat Sadler, Ryan Woods, Jermaine Grandison, Mark Ellis, Abu Ogogo, Tyrone Barnett (Liam McAlinden, 78), James Collins, Liam Lawrence (c) (Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, 52), Martin Woods (Junior Brown, 51)
Subs not used: Mark Halstead (GK), Dom Smith, Jordan Clark, Shaun Whalley
Chesterfield: Tommy Lee, Dan Jones, Sam Morsy (c), Sam Hird, Ian Evatt, Dan Gardener (Armand Gnanduillet, 84), Angel Martinez, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (Gboly Ariyibi, 67), Jay O’Shea, Lee Novak, Drew Talbot
Subs not used: Alex Cairns, Ritchie Humphreys, Charlie Raglan, Byron Harrison, Ollie Banks
Referee: Mark Heywood
Assistants: Iain Siddall & Danny Gratton
Fourth Official: Dumitru Ravel Cheosiaua
Attendance: 4,935 (344 from Chesterfield)
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Chesterfield inflicted a second successive home defeat on Shrewsbury who put in a below par performance in front of their own supporters this evening. In truth, the scoreline could have been even more emphatic, but two second half goals from Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Sam Hird were enough to knock the stuffing out of a strangely subdued Town side. Mat Sadler did manage to net a late consolation for Salop but the away side deserved to take the points home.
There was a surprise omission from the teamsheet with starlet Connor Goldson ruled out with a hamstring injury. That opened the door for Mark Ellis to make a first start of the campaign - coming in to partner Jermaine Grandison at the heart of the Shrews defence.
The floodlights were on from the off with the hosts attacking their preferred end in the first half – the Pro-Vision Stand.
But after a largely uneventful opening 20 minutes, Chesterfield had a glorious chance to score. Up until that point they had seemed perfectly content to let Salop dominate possession with plenty of red shirts piled behind the ball. But when Dan Jones found some space down the left, he sent in a terrific ball for Ebanks-Blake who had acres of space about 10 yards out, only for the former Wolves frontman to head over and let Town off. Five minutes later Jones was picking up the first caution of the evening after a quite unnecessary lunge on Ryan Woods. The infringement took place right on the touchline in front of the lino but inexplicably, after booking Jones match official Mark Heywood restarted with a throw-in. Both sets of fans let him know immediately what they thought of that decision.
Dan Gardener was next to break free on an exposed left flank, but he dragged his shot woefully across the face of goal - but at the same time, firing another warning shot to Micky Mellon’s side who had yet to find any kind of rhythm.
Five minutes before half-time came another passable opportunity for the away side. Jones again danced down the left side and put over another great cross which was well defended by Mat Sadler. But his clearance was sent goalwards by Gardener only for his shot to drift wide of the far post. Lee Novak missed another sitter moments later – firing over the top - as Shrewsbury continued to look more than a little flimsy at the back.
Town went in at the break goalless but it had been Dean Saunders’ men who had created all of the openings. And yet despite wasting four really good chances, Jayson Leutwiler had yet to lay a decent glove on the ball
Half-Time: Town 0 Chesterfield 0
Within five minutes of the restart Town were a goal down and making a double substitution. Ebanks Blake twisted and turned on the 18 yard line and squeezed through a low shot that went past an unsighted Leutwiler, before creeping into the corner of the net to give the Spireites a deserved lead. Mellon reacted immediately with Junior Brown replacing Martin Woods and Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro coming on in place of captain Liam Lawrence.
On the hour mark the game should have been out of reach for Shrewsbury. Gardener jinked one way and then the other with the defence parting to create a free shot central to goal for the number seven. But, leaning back ever so slightly, he could only crash his shot against the underside of the bar and into the grateful arms of a hugely relieved Town goalkeeper.
Brown became the first home entry into Mr. Heywood’s little black book and the frustrations were clearly evident, both on the pitch and in the stands. Chesterfield’s lead was a narrow one but with better finishing they really might have been six clear by now! Finally, the pressure told and after 63 minutes Sam Hird rifled the ball into the net to double their advantage. Town had lost just twice here last season but already they were headed for a second defeat in their first two games on home soil. Hird fancied another pop three minutes after his goal and was inches away with a spectacular curling effort that looked destined for the top corner. As the momentum stayed with Chesterfield, chances continued to come and go for the Derbyshire side with Novak again not too far away from distance.
Akpa Akpro’s shot directly at Tommy Lee on 73 minutes drew ironic cheers from the home supporters – obviously recognising a first shot on target so late in the game. A week ago, Shrews were dominant at Championship outfit Blackburn Rovers, but tonight they had barely got going from the first whistle.
James Collins fired into the side netting just moments after strike partner Tyrone Barnett had been withdrawn for Liam McAlinden, and Ryan Woods shot wide from outside the box as Town briefly rallied. All the efforts seemed to be from distance though with JLAA the latest to fire past Lee’s right hand post.
Three minutes from time, substitute Armand Gnanduillet almost capitalised on a rare Leutwiler effort, but Matt Tootle popped up on the line to block. That would have been game, set and match and yet within 30 seconds the deficit was halved. Sadler strode forward and picked out the top corner with a beaut to give Town the slightest glimmer of hope, and suddenly the home fans had something to cheer.
The left back was booked shortly after his goal and with four minutes of added on time indicated, perhaps the slightest hint of optimism came down from the stands. But Chesterfield comfortably protected their lead and ran the clock down with the minimum of fuss.
Full-Time: Town 1 Chesterfield 2