Having suffered five consecutive league defeats coming into this fixture, there was little Festive cheer at the Procat Stadium on a squally afternoon for the visit of Bradford City. The Bantams arrived in Derbyshire having lost their first league game in eleven outings, after a 2-1 defeat to Walsall.
The Spireites started the day in 17th place in League One with their opponents Bradford City eight points ahead in 10th place.
Before the action started there was a minute’s applause for former Chesterfield Chairman Barrie Hubbard who recently passed away.
Chesterfield kicked-off and within two minutes Sylvan Ebanks-Blake won a free-kick in a good position, but it was easily cleared by the City defence. James Hanson was prominent for Bradford in the opening minutes as was Tony McMahon who found himself clear on the right but mis-controlled the ball allowing it to go out of play.
The visitors were dominating early on with Hanson and Kyle Reid looking to get behind the Chesterfield back four in a direct manner, although this was not always successful as the wind was taking some of the passes straight through to Tommy Lee in the Chesterfield goal.
The home team’s first opportunity came on ten minutes. Jay O’Shea got down the left and his partly cleared cross fell to Ebanks-Blake, but his shot lacked power and was easily save by Ben Williams. This was the only brief opportunity for Chesterfield in an opening fifteen minutes that City dominated.
Reid earned City’s first corner on the quarter-hour mark, which Billy Clarke headed against the post and the resulting Gary Liddle shot was easily gathered by Lee. Minutes later Hanson was at full stretch for The Bantams, but he could only put his effort wide of the left post.
Chesterfield gradually started to work their way back into the game and after twenty three minutes Ebanks-Blake had a header on target for the home-side. However, The Bantams continued to press and Lee had to be alert to turn Reid’s effort away for a corner.
It was thirty minutes before Chesterfield had their first corner of the game. The effort was punched away but the resultant Dion Donohue effort to keep the attack alive was wayward.
As the last ten minutes of the half approached Lee needed attention after taking a goal kick, although it proved to be nothing serious.
Ebanks-Blake was continuing to work hard for Chesterfield as was O’Neil down the right, who also had an excellent drive which went not too far over the bar.
With the interval approaching, the visitors picked up the pace as Hanson had a shot deflected for a corner and minutes later Reece Burke had a header on target. However, Chesterfield almost snatched the lead before half-time in the minute of time added one, when from Talbot’s cross, Ebanks-Blake headed over.
Chesterfield made a change at the break with the injured Drew Talbot replaced by Ritchie Humphreys.
As with the opening half, Bradford started the better of the teams and four minutes in a teasing cross from Burke evaded the City forwards. The visitors then had a double chance to take the lead after fifty two minutes. First, Reid had a shot saved by Lee and from the corner the Chesterfield keeper was again in action to brilliantly save from Hanson’s header.
There was a brief scare on fifty four minutes as Chesterfield captain Ian Evatt went down with a head injury, but was thankfully soon up on his feet.
Just before the hour mark Gboly Ariyibi dragged an effort wide for Chesterfield and it was his last significant action as two minutes later he was replaced by Dan Gardner.
A minute later the first booking of the afternoon arrived as substitute Ritchie Humpheys was cautioned.
With sixty five minutes gone Ollie Banks had an effort deflected for a corner, but before it was taken there was a goal-mouth altercation which led to Ebanks-Banks and McArdle being booked. It was an incident that seemed to spark the crowd into action as the volume from both sets of fans increased.
Bradford were starting to warm to the task and on sixty nine minutes Hanson’s flicked header had Clarke through on goal, but his first touch was poor and the chance was gone. Clarke had a chance to redeem himself just minutes later when he bore down on goal, but his shot was deflected for a corner.
Then on seventy two minutes the breakthrough came, Clarke again caused problems for Chesterfield down the left and his cutback was swept in by McMahon for a deserved lead for The Bantams.
With fifteen minutes remaining, the home-side made their last change with O’Neil departing for Rai Simons. Five minutes later Bradford made a change with Clarke making way for Devante Cole.
The final ten minutes saw Bradford come under little real pressure from Chesterfield who looked bereft of any real idea as to where an equaliser might come from and could only produce a couple of long range efforts from Donohue and a header from Ebanks-Blake.
With four minutes of time added-on Reid gave way to James Meredith as The Bantams looked to wind-down the clock.
At the whistle the fifteen hundred plus City fans celebrated what was a deserved three points.