Hartlepool United 0-1 Chesterfield: Spirited Pools edged out by Spireites

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Hartlepool United fell to a narrow defeat to National League leaders Chesterfield with Armando Dobra’s goal the difference.

Dobra scored the only goal of the game inside five minutes as Chesterfield’s march towards the Football League continued while Hartlepool dropped into the bottom half of the league table after yet another home defeat.

Dobra finished well from the edge of the area as the Spireites controlled proceedings – despite a spirited performance from the home side, with Hartlepool unable to force a breakthrough themselves after leading scorer Emmanuel Dieseruvwe spurned two golden opportunities.

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After negotiating a tricky situation in the FA Trophy in Liverpool a week ago John Askey knew the real test came here against National League leaders Chesterfield. Where in the FA Trophy Pools had very little to gain and plenty to lose, here things were a little different with more hope than expectation against the runaway leaders who had lost just twice all season.

Armando Dobra scored the only goal of the game for Chesterfield in their win over Hartlepool United. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)Armando Dobra scored the only goal of the game for Chesterfield in their win over Hartlepool United. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Armando Dobra scored the only goal of the game for Chesterfield in their win over Hartlepool United. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Askey had challenged his players to do themselves justice in the build-up to the game and, while acknowledging the Spireites’ clear strengths in this division, was also keen to highlight Paul Cook’s side are beatable.

In order to do so Askey kept faith in the side who got the job done on Merseyside last week as Sheffield Wednesday loanee Ciaran Brennan was handed a home and league debut in the blue and white of Hartlepool with Emmanuel Onariase back in defence having missed Pools’ most recent league fixture, the defeat to Bromley, through illness.

Joe Grey continued in the absence of Tom Crawford while Dieservuwe lined up against his former side once more to lead the line.

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And Dieseruvwe should have put his old club to the sword inside 60 seconds of kick-off when capitalising on a mix-up in the Spireites defence to go around goalkeeper Harry Tryer, only to lose his footing at the crucial moment as he ended up forcing his effort wide in front of a somewhat goading away contingent.

It would have been an ideal start for Askey and his players with much of the concern heading into the game likely to have been centred around Chesterfield’s goalscoring prowess, particularly from set pieces. And the first ‘hide behind the sofa’ moment came just minutes after Dieseruvwe’s missed opportunity when Liam Mandeville’s low free kick was shanked behind, a little unnecessarily, by David Ferguson for the game's first corner.

Over went Mandeville and, somewhat inevitably, seconds later Pools were behind. It’s been a problem all season and it continued again here despite Dieservuwe winning the first defensive header. But the striker’s clearance only made it as far as Dobra who had a little too much space on the edge of the area and he made a decent first-time contact to send a strike through a crowd of bodies which took a deflection on its way to beat Joel Dixon into the bottom corner.

It was a goal which delivered a familiar ‘here we go again’ feeling among home supporters as Askey’s side took a little time to steady themselves, Ollie Banks firing over a decent opportunity from Tom Naylor’s knockdown soon after, before Dobra was then denied inside the area from Mandeville’s cut-back.

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But, to their credit, Hartlepool wrestled their way back into the contest and did start giving themselves the justice Askey had craved.

Pools appeared to have targeted Chesterfield’s left-hand-side, with Jake Hastie often an outlet as the Scotsman enjoyed some success against Branden Horton.

And they were able to fashion another golden opportunity midway through the first half when Nicky Featherstone’s dogged work in midfield saw a turnover in possession which allowed Hastie to thread a clever ball through the defence for Dieseruvwe who had a clear sight of goal only to drag wide of Tryer’s far post – again, to the delight of the travelling Spireites behind the goal.

Hastie and Featherstone then ensured the home crowd became more involved with some really good pressing forcing Chesterfield into a series of errors before Callum Cooke then wasted a good opportunity after a tidy build-up involving Hastie and Dieseruvwe on the right before Cooke’s heavy touch took things away from him.

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Ferguson tried a speculative effort from distance as Pools, despite being behind, were applauded off at the break.

But the Spireites aren’t in control of the National League title race for nothing as they came out with an improved vigour to put Hartlepool under a little bit more pressure at the beginning of the second half – Mandeville dragging wide at Dixon’s near post from a training ground corner routine to fire an early warning sign to the hosts.

The home side were then fortunate they didn’t gift a second to Chesterfield and Dobra after Brennan misjudged a header back to his goalkeeper with Joe Quigley then deemed to have fouled Dixon as the loose ball was tucked in by Dobra.

The Spireites were camped outside of Hartlepool’s penalty area as they probed for what would likely be a decisive second with Joe Mattock on hand to make a vital clearance from Horton’s low cross before Jamie Grimes fired into the side netting from Mandeville’s deep corner.

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Chesterfield were beginning to suffocate Hartlepool, albeit without creating anything clear cut, with Askey’s side unable to get out at times – Dieseruvwe feeding off scraps in the second half.

In an attempt to stem the tide and find a route back into the game Askey turned to Mitch Hancox and Josh Umerah but still the visitors pressed for a second as Naylor, who scored the stoppage time winner in the reverse fixture back in August, did superbly to hook a ball into the area from the right for Quigley but Brennan did just enough to turn behind.

Cook then shuffled his pack which included James Berry and Will Grigg – Berry soon involved when dragging an effort wide of Dixon’s goal.

Berry was then at the heart of a swift Chesterfield counter-attack when racing clear down the left before finding Grigg in the penalty area and he stood one up for Mandeville who beat Dixon only for Onariase to hook clear from the line.

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But with Chesterfield unable to really offer anything penetrative, and with the score still only at 1-0, Hartlepool remained in the game and their best play of the second half came five minutes from time when Hastie clipped a ball through to Dieseruvwe who turned inside for Umerah and he spread the play one more to Cooke who was denied by a fabulous challenge from Naylor just as he was pulling the trigger.

Hartlepool were then handed a reprieve when Naylor found the back of the net from six-yards out, only for Mandeville, the provider, to be flagged for offside.

But despite a somewhat spirited display against a side who are likely to be plying their trade in the Football League next season, Pools came up short at home once more as they now find themselves much closer to the National League relegation places then they do the play-off spots.

Hartlepool United XI: Dixon, Brennan, Onariase, Mattock, Hastie, Wallace (Hancox ‘60), Featherstone, Ferguson ©, Cooke, Grey (Umerah ‘70), Dieseruvwe

Subs: Jameson, Johnson, Paterson

Chesterfield XI: Tyrer, Sheckleford, Palmer, Grimes ©, Horton (Freckleton ‘70), Oldaker, Naylor, Mandeville, Banks (Berry ‘70), Dobra, Quigley (Grigg ‘81)

Subs: King, Jacobs

Referee: Aaron Bannister

Attendance: 4,611 (989 Chesterfield)