Chesterfield and fellow strugglers AFC Fylde shared the points on Saturday in a crucial instalment of the National League survival race.
Jonathan Smith’s first-half strike, his first for Spireites, put the hosts ahead before Nick Haughton secured a deserved point fifteen minutes from time.
Nathan Tyson joined fellow Notts County loanee Matt Tootle at the Spireites in midweek. Ross Fitzsimons was recalled on Thursday following an injury to Notts goalkeeper Sam Slocombe.
Chesterfield came into the contest on the back of consecutive wins which saw them in the relegation zone on goal difference, while the Coasters were without a league win since late November.
It was the hosts who began proceedings but Fylde looked positive early on, Ryan Croasdale’s cross being blocked for Jalal to save in the sixth minute.
Spireites grew into the game and created most of their chances from the wings, looking for Scott Boden and Thomas Denton but Sam Hornby was equal to every early effort.
Boden thought he’d scored the opener on nine minutes but his downward header at the back post was kept out by Hornby.
Nick Haughton caused the hosts’ defence all kinds of problems in the first half, with his tricky runs creating space for Coasters teammates but he became the target of a few purposeful challenges as the game wore on.
He fed new signing Jamie Proctor on 14 minutes inside the ‘D’, Proctor slid it through to Ryan Croasdale but his effort hit the side-netting.
Curtis Weston caught a half-volley well after a corner was half-cleared but it fizzed just wide of the left post to deny Chesterfield an opener.
The home fans were less than impressed with the referee’s decisions vis-à-vis Boden and Denton’s physicality and the challenges they were repeatedly subjected to. Denton finally won a free-kick on 21 minutes which drew one of the biggest cheers of the afternoon.
Proctor nearly gave the visitors the lead on the half-hour but slid his shot wide of the post.
It was Chesterfield who went ahead just minutes later though as JONATHAN SMITH finished well to cap a blistering counter-attack and net his first goal for the Spireites. Chesterfield 1 – 0 Fylde.
Haughton might have found the equaliser on 39 minutes but his jinking run into the hosts’ box ended with a disappointing shot which was comfortable for Shwan Jalal.
HALF-TIME: CHESTERFIELD 1 – 0 AFC FYLDE
Fylde might have counted themselves lucky to keep all eleven men on the pitch early in the second half after an off-the-ball incident on 53 minutes involving Nick Haughton and Scott Boden.
Liam Mandeville and Nathan Tyson replaced Sam Wedgbury and Boden respectively in the second half, Notts County loanee Tyson making his Spireites debut.
The game began to break down as Fylde chased a way back into proceedings and more fouls and mistakes punctuated things.
Tyson impressed from the bench and put in a shift belying his years as his runs into the channels stretched the visitors’ defence.
Jalal got a fingertip to the ball to deny Jordan Williams the leveller and Fylde were able to recycle possession. A high cross came in but it was cleared from the goal-line by Josef Varney.
Fylde equalised with fifteen minutes to go. NICK HAUGHTON had equally impressed and frustrated all afternoon, slotting past Jalal to ensure the visitors left the Proact Stadium with the point their performance merited. Chesterfield 1 – 1 Fylde.
Despite conceding, Jalal kept Spireites in the contest on numerous occasions and probably deserved Man of the Match. He made another fantastic stop in injury time to secure a point for the hosts in a game that might have slipped away from them.
FULL-TIME: CHESTERFIELD 1 – 1 AFC FYLDE
Chesterfield visit Meadow Lane on Saturday February 1 for the derby against Notts County. Kick-off has been pushed back to 5:20pm.
The Magpies prevailed in their FA Trophy meeting in December but Chesterfield won October’s National League encounter between the sides.
Chesterfield: Jalal, Cropper (Weir 82′), Yarney, Evans (c), Hollis, Buchanan, Wedgbury (Mandeville 57′), Smith, Weston, Boden (Tyson 59′), Denton.
Unused subs: Sharman, Wharton.
Goals: Smith 32′.
AFC Fylde: Hornby, Montrose (c), Byrne, Whitmore, Croasdale, Proctor (Yeates 66′), Williams, Burke, Taylor, Walker (Bradley 81′), Haughton (Philliskirk 87′).
Unused subs: Lavercombe, James.
Goals: Haughton 76′.