Town start the New Year in the worst way possible
Town: Mark Halstead, Junior Brown, Abu Ogogo (Liam Lawrence), Ant Gerrard (Dom S)mith), James Collins, Ian Black, Larnell Cole, Jermaine Grandison, Scott Vernon (Nat Knight-Percival, Zak Whitbread, Shaun Whalley
Subs: Callum Burton, Tyrone Barnett, Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, Jordan Clark
Chesterfield: Tommy Lee, Chris Herd, Sam Hird, Sam Morsy (c), Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (Byron Harrison), Jay O'Shea (Rai Simons) Lee Novak, Liam O'Neil, Charlie Raglan, Dion Donohue, Gboly Ariyibi ( Dan Gardner)
Subs: Aaron Chapman, Michael Onovwigun, Mani Dieseruvwe, Laurence Maguire
Ref: Oliver Langford
Assistants: Neil Hair and Alf Greenwood
Fourth Official: William Smallwood
Attendance: 6233 (440 for Town)
Micky Mellon makes the one change to the side who came away from Crewe with the 3 points with Jermaine Grandison coming in to replace Dom Smith who drops to the bench. Liam McAlinden is missing after picking up a sickness bug.
It was an end to end start to the game with both sides getting the ball forward quickly and looking to take the early advantage. There was chances and openings at both ends but the defences and keepers were doing their jobs.
The best early chances came with just over 5 minutes on the clock, first Town broke with Collins putting the ball to the right for Whalley, he did well to beat his marker come into the box before passing to Collins who had burst to the by-line, he but it back to Vernon who stabbed in a shot but it was straight at Lee who gratefully collected. A quick release then saw Chesterfield counter and the ball came to Ebanks-Blake on the edge of the box, he cut inside and drove in a low shot but Halstead was down to save.
Chesterfield had another decent chance when a quick counter saw Ebanks-Blake break into the Town half and kept going towards the Town goal, he had Ogogo attempting to get back but took a heavy touch which allowed Halstead to get down bravely and smoother the ball.
Town won a corner which Whalley curled over, it was headed out but only as far as Black, he drove in a low shot which was blocked and Chesterfield looked to counter, Black looked to get back and slid in to get the ball, which he got but also a bit of the man and ref Langford saw enough for a free-kick and a booking.
Town were picking up a number of bumps and problems with Gerrard not looking 100% but Ogogo then went down and needed treatment. Skitty came on and it clear that he wasn't able to carry on and Liam Lawrence got himself ready to come on, he was doing his laces up but ref Langford lost patience and restarted the game.
Chesterfield took advantage of the 10 men to put the pressure on and a ball from Herd found O'Shea on the edge of the Town box, it didn't look too much of a danger until he hit in a worldy effort that flew into the top corner giving Halstead no chance and Chesterfield the lead.
At the restart Lawrence finally came on and Dom Smith was also brought into the action in a straight swap for Gerrard who wasn't able to carry on.
Town were taking a little while to get used to the changes in personnel and Chesterfield were putting the pressure on. There was a break on down the right for the home side with Ariyibi and Brown went over to close, the Chesterfield player went down with Brown suggesting his shirt had been tugged but the ref gave a free-kick to Chesterfield and booked Brown.
There was a big decision on 39 minutes after Town had defended a Chesterfield attack well, Whitbread and had down well and then Smith half cleared, the ball dropped just inside the box and Black put a foot in to try and tackle Morsy, the Chesterfield man went down and ref Oliver was pointing to the spot, from the pressbox it looked harsh but the ref was certain.
Town needed to stay strong and see the half out but just as the fourth official held the board up to show there would be 3 minutes of added time Chesterfield grabbed a third goal. It came down the Chesterfield right with Ariyibi getting in behind Brown and cutting the ball back to the edge of the Town box where Novak stroked in a good finish to make it 3-0 to the homeside.
Chesterfield had a good chance after the restart when the ball found O'Shea in space at the backpost, he fired in a low shot but Halstead was down quickly to pull off an important block, the ball rebounded back out to O'Shea but this time he got under his shot and it sailed over the bar.
Town were looking to press and get back into the game and when Black tried to break down the middle Ian Black was stopped with Chris Herd going in late from behind, ref Langford blew up for a foul and produced a yellow card to ironic cheers from the Town fans.
Town were continuing to press and they were having a good spell of pressure but needed to get a goal to give them hope. The ball dropped to Black on the edge of the box, he drove in a decent looking effort but it was deflected behind for a Town corner.
It was the visitors best spell of the game and the ball was with Whalley on the right, he got in behind the Chesterfield defence and curled an inviting ball across goal, Cole was looking to pounce at the backpost but it was turned behind for a Town corner. The ball was swung across and Vernon connected, it was blocked and Chesterfield couldn't clear, Whitbread remained calm and fired the ball into the top of the net to give Town hope.
The game hadn't been a dirty one but the bookings were starting to rack up with O'Neil picking up a yellow for a foul on Whalley and then Lawrence getting one for a tussle with Ariyibi.
On 72 minutes Chesterfield made a change with Rai Simons coming onto replace Jay O'Shea and with less than a minute on the clock he was on the scoresheet. Town lost possession and the ball dropped ti Simons, he burst down the middle and kept his run going before driving the ball past Halstead for 4-1.
Town's afternoon got worse with just over 10 minutes of the game remaining, Ariyibi drove into the Town box and went down under the ground under the challenge of the box, ref Langford had no hesitation pointing to the spot and producing a second yellow card for Brown. Novak placed the ball and made no mistake firing the ball past Halstead to make it 5-1.
There was a slight glimmer of hope when Whitbread's strike had gone in but that was gone as Chesterfield started to turn the pressure on. Two late strikes, the first a decent shot across the goal from sub Simons and then a clinical strike from Novak to give him his hat-trick made it a miserable start to 2016 for Town.