Chesterfield 2-1 Fleetwood
Two goals in a four minute purple patch meant Fleetwood ended their second season in the Football League with a 2-1 defeat to Chesterfield on an afternoon where the Spireites popped the champagne and lifted the Sky Bet League 2 title.
Matty Blair threatened to spoil the title-winning party after opening the scoring as early as the eleventh minute in what was a very comfortable first half for Fleetwood, but Paul Cook’s side were not to be denied.
Sam Hird equalised for the hosts four minutes after the interval and Gary Roberts curled in an excellent winner four minutes later to complete the comeback and lift the title
With Graham Alexander keeping one eye on next week’s play-off double-header with York City, Fleetwood made a host of changes to their starting line-up – most notably Ryan Cresswell returning for his first start since Boxing Day.
The forward pairing of David Ball and Iain Hume was broken for the first time since the 3-0 defeat to Exeter City with Jon Parkin returning, whilst Charlie Taylor, Gareth Evans and Stewart Murdoch were also drafted back into the side at the Proact Stadium.
After a bright start from the home side, Fleetwood dampened the carnival mood by opening the scoring on 11 minutes. Neat work by Matty Blair in the middle saw him waltz to the edge of the Chesterfield area, before exchanging a neat one-two with Morris. The winger, with a neat drag back, turned away from his defender and slotted a tight left shot past Tommy Lee in the Spireites goal.
Back came Chesterfield, who had the title in their grasp before kick-off, Eoin Doyle sent a right foot shot just wide of Maxwell’s near post, but that apart, and the opening 30 minutes was a comfortable experience for Alexander’s side.
Sky Bet League 2s Player of the Year Gary Roberts fizzed a long-range effort well over the top of Maxwell’s bar, before Jay O’Shea curled a right footed effort over from the edge of the year five minutes before the interval.
Fleetwood were looking to finish on a flurry and a quick turn from Morris relieved the pressure before Murdoch sprayed a delightful pass out to Evans. The wingers stepped inside Drew Talbot before unleashing a deflected effort just wide of Lee’s post, before Cresswell headed wide from the resulting corner.
Inside a packed Proact Stadium, though, the atmosphere was a complete contrast to the build up of the game. The home fans were mute, the title party halted and muted – all the result of a first-half performance from Fleetwood that contained everything Alexander would have asked from his side in the build up to kick off.
Chesterfield perhaps was thankful for the half-time whistle, Paul Cook needed the interval to reenergise his players and with his words ringing in their ears they were reinvigorated.
Four minutes after the break, Chesterfield equalised with Sam Hird bulleting a header past Maxwell into the bottom corner. The Proact erupted, the party was back on.
The Spireites smelt blood. Jimmy Ryan minutes later tested the palms of Maxwell from range before Roberts curled an excellent left footed effort beyond Maxwell and into the far corner. Que bedlam.
The early second half energy and momentum Chesterfield had exerted was gone. The tempo after the hour mark dropped as the home side dictated the pace, but Fleetwood continued to try and find an equaliser on the counter attack.
Liam Hogan tested Lee with a long-range effort that was easily held on to, before Nathan Smith tested Maxwell at the other end with a strong drive on the edge of the area.
With the clock ticking down, a last ditch Cresswell headed turned a Gardner effort over the bar and Gardner, again, sent an effort into the side netting and that was the last of the chances. Chesterfield were crowned champions and Fleetwood produced a spirited performance, which they can take great heart from going into their play-off battle with York City for a place at Wembley.