Chesterfield 1 Doncaster Rovers 1: Rovers five points adrift of safety after Spireites draw
The half time entertainment said it all when it comes to Doncaster Rovers' survival hopes.
Veteran entertainer and big Spireite Bernie Clifton belted out ‘The Impossible Dream’ in his dulcet tones, which proved rather ominous for those making the short journey to the Proact.
Saturday’s brilliant win over Wigan Athletic had Rovers dreaming once again. A six point deficit with 12 still available meant all of a sudden survival looked possible.
But a draw against Chesterfield means the dream looks all too impossible once again.
Tommy Rowe kept the dream alive when he gave Rovers the lead after six minutes.
But Gboly Ariyibi dashed hopes when he grabbed the equaliser 12 minutes later.
The point for Chesterfield was certainly a valuable one, moving them onto the ‘magic 50’ mark.
Plenty of Spireites will feel a lot more comfortable with a couple more points on the board no doubt.
For Rovers, the point did edge them one closer to survival. But a five point deficit with three games to go surely means three victories are needed.
It could so easily have been a cagey affair at the Proact with both sides desperate for points to boost their survival bids.
But both admirably attempted to play football in what was, in the main, a rather entertaining contest.
What let each down was a lack of killer touch in opposition territory, with attacks breaking down on the final ball.
Chesterfield’s best forays came out wide through Ariyibi and Jamal Campbell-Ryce but there were rarely chances created at the end of their surging runs.
Having one up front in Lee Novak meant there was a real lack of an out ball for the hosts.
Rovers built well up the pitch with their on-song midfield performing well again but they struggled to test Tommy Lee. They were the better side over the 90 minutes but struggled to break down their hosts.
Both sides missed excellent chances with Rovers’ Andy Williams the most guilty just before half time as he found himself with the goal gaping but planted a header into the side netting.
It could hardly have been a better start for Rovers as they took the lead with six minutes gone. Gary McSheffrey sent deep a corner kick and Rowe darted in unmarked at the far post and powered a side-foot effort past Tommy Lee.
Chesterfield should have equalised soon after when Novak met Jamal Campbell-Ryce’s near post cross but failed to turn his header on goal while Ollie Banks smashed just over the bar from 30 yards soon after.
But the hosts did grab the equaliser on 18 minutes. Jay O’Shea smashed a shot from 25 yards which Remi Matthews parried but straight out to Ariyibi who picked his spot in off the near post.
The hosts went into the ascendency after the equaliser and could have gone ahead. Ollie Banks chipped onto the roof of the net after receiving Charlie Raglan’s cut back while Ariyibi skipped past Craig Alcock on the byline but could not pick out a team mate with his cut back.
Rovers were denied what appeared to be a strong shout for a penalty on the half hour when McSheffrey appeared to have been nudged over by Drew Talbot.
And both sides had big chances before half time.
Former Rovers defender Sam Hird could not turn a free header on goal from a corner.
But it was Rovers who really should have taken the lead just before the break. Richard Chaplow whipped a cross to the back post where Williams stood unmarked but only managed to find the sidenetting with his header.
Nerves began to creep in after the break and both sides found chances at premium. But it could have been all so different had Rovers not had a goal ruled out for a foul early in the half, James Coppinger lashing home but only after Rowe went in too heavy to win the ball.
O’Shea struck a free kick just over the bar but Rovers had the better of the chances as the game wore on.
Coppinger had a glorious opportunity to put them back in front. Rovers broke from a Chesterfield corner and McSheffrey played Coppinger in but he hesitated over his shot allowing the home defence to get back and block.
The hosts increasingly stood on the back foot with a point much more valuable for them than Rovers.
But the visitors struggled to work opportunities in a packed final third. McSheffrey fired just over from a free kick while substitute Nathan Tyson glanced a header just wide under pressure.
Chesterfield: Lee, Raglan, Anderson, Hird, Talbot, Liddle, Banks, Campbell-Ryce (Ebanks-Blake 74), O’Shea (Herd 90), Ariyibi, Novak. Subs not used: Chapman, Dimaio, Donohue, Simons, Slew.
Rovers: Matthews, Lund, Alcock, Butler, Evina, Coppinger, McCullough, Chaplow (Calder 82), Rowe, McSheffrey, Williams (Tyson 82). Subs not used: Stuckmann, Taylor-Sinclair, Middleton, Stewart, Mandeville.
Referee: Jeremy Simpson
Att: 6,461 (905 away)