United were beaten by a fifth minute goal today as Chesterfield left the Kassam Stadium with all three points. The U's rallied and dominated much of the remaining 85 minutes but could make no inroads against a well drilled Spireites defence who completed a double over the U's this season.
After a last gasp winner in the previous game United were hit this time by an early setback as Chesterfield took a 1-0 lead with their first attack. A simple ball in from the right flank should have been dealt with but a slip wrong-footed the entire United back line and Richards applied a calm finish from the right edge of the penalty area with McCormick getting a touch but unable to steer it wide.
In the game at Chesterfield earlier in the season United has taken a similar early chance to go 1-0 up away from home, only to lose the game. This time they had the chance to turn things around and show what a resilient side they have become since that day. It started pretty immediately with the game being played almost entirely in the Chesterfield half.
Deane Smalley couldn’t convert either chance as a 22nd minute cross twice came his way inside the box but was scrambled away by the frantic away defence. An even better chance came on 28 as Batt and Potter engineered a great opening on the right and Batt’s low cross was an inch too far ahead of Smalley as he tried to reach it six yards out. With Andy Whing adding stability and Scott Davies the hub of the team the Yellows were on top, restricting Chesterfield to counter-attacks, but couldn’t find a goal in the opening half despite two good chances late on.
Potter saw a goal-bond effort shinned away after another good pass from Davies on 42, late corners added to the pressure but the best chance fell to Smalley once again two minutes into injury time. Batt’s long pass cleared a defender and freed Smalley but his shot from 16 yards was too close to keeper Tommy Lee who saved well when he should have been given no chance.
Having gathered a head of steam up towards the end of the first period United took a little while to get going in the second, attacking the open end of the stadium. Smalley had a 55th minute shot saved by Lee from a tight angle but it was the rhyme-tastic Jay O'Shea of the visitors who came closest to the next goal with a twisting run from the left and a curling effort which drifted just wide of the right hand post.
Having survived that scare United lifted themselves once again, throwing on Tom Craddock up front and seeing him test Lee with a low shot on 75. Craddock's deft flick on 78 allowed Constable another effort which flashed over the bar but it was one of those afternoons where the ball just would not fall to the right man in the right place. Even a late cameo from Harry Worley up front in the middle of a front five couldn't find a way through.
Plenty of commitment, a fierce determination, but this time no winning touch.
Report by Chris Williams, pictures by Steve Daniels Stats by PA Sports
See video reaction and highlights in Yellow Player
Today’s winning fifty/50 number: 283099 wins £1,027