by Charlie Sturtivant
Chesterfield overcame a defiant Wealdstone and overturned a 1-0 deficit at half time to secure a 3-2 victory and extend the gap at the top of the National League table to five points.
The Spireites got the game underway and dominated possession in the early stages of the game. The first real chance came when Will Grigg won a free kick in the fifth minute.
The resulting kick from Jeff King looked destined to nestle in the top corner but for an acrobatic save by Jed Ward to tip the ball onto the bar.
Wealdstone continued to struggle to find any sort of momentum and King was given another chance from a free kick on the edge of the box just five minutes later. However, it was a comfortable catch by Ward.
Ward continued his fine opening spell, sticking out an arm just in time to prevent Grigg from slotting the ball into an empty net.
For all their attacking play, Chesterfield looked shaky at the back. Loose passes were common, giving Wealdstone the belief to continue their high press.
Their mistakes were almost punished when Corie Andrews managed to time his run perfectly to get in behind the Chesterfield defence but his effort sailed high and wide.
Wealdstone slowly began to grow into the game and long spells of possession soon became far more common. The deadlock was broken in the 33rd minute but it was Wealdstone who struck first.
A beautiful flowing move from the Stones saw the ball flash low across the box past the outstretched arms of Harry Tyrer, allowing Kyle Smith to slot the ball into an empty net at the back post, before wheeling off to celebrate in front of the jubilant travelling fans.
GOALLL!! Kyle Smith scores from Mundle-Smith’s low cross!
🔵 0 – 1 🟡 | 34’ pic.twitter.com/2zoXcYpO3Z
— Wealdstone FC (@WealdstoneFC) September 23, 2023
Chesterfield thought they should have had a penalty on the stroke of half time when the ball appeared to strike the arm of Smith in the box – but the referee waved away the claims.
Seconds later, the ball once again appeared to hit a Wealdstone arm in the box, but much to the dismay of the home support, the referee saw nothing.
Both sides struggled to gain momentum in the opening few minutes of the second half and an off the ball scuffle during a break in play saw both Jamie Grimes and Corie Andrews go into the book, joining Sam Bowen and Charlie Barker.
Wealdstone appeared content to try and break up the play on every occasion but this tactic didn’t work for long. This time it was Wealdstone who were found guilty of a defensive mix-up.
Both defenders left the ball for each other to clear, but it was James Berry who reacted first and slotted the ball into the bottom corner to level the game.
YESSSSSSSSS!!!! BERRRRYYYYY!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/MZ3mpm1QJO
— Chesterfield FC (@ChesterfieldFC) September 23, 2023
It took less than 15 minutes for Chesterfield to find their second. In almost identical fashion to Wealdstone in the first half, the Spireites cut through the Wealdstone team, before Liam Mandeville slotted the ball home from an inviting cross by Berry.
Wealdstone were clearly shaken and 60 seconds later the ball was in the back of the net again, this time from Michael Jacobs, who drove at the heart of the Wealdstone defence before comfortably striking the ball home to make it 3-1.
Joe Quigley thought he had made it four moments after his introduction when he found himself one-on-one with the keeper – but Ward held his nerve to deny a certain goal.
Wealdstone came close when Miguel Freckleton lost out to Abdulsabur Abdulmalik but despite some excellent footwork to force his way into the box, the effort was blocked.
Chesterfield regained their early dominance and had a host of chances to add to their advantage, constantly stretching a tiring Wealdstone defence.
The warning signs remained at the back for Chesterfield and Wealdstone pulled a goal back in the 96th minute through substitute Sean Adarkwa, making the score 3-2 with the last kick of the game.
Although merely a consolation, it will surely give hope to Wealdstone who will feel that on another day, they may have stolen some points to take back to North London.
The result means that Chesterfield extended their winning run to six in a row and stretched their lead at the top of the National League to five points. Meanwhile, Wealdstone are still with just one win their last seven.