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Johnson off as Blues beaten
Chesterfield 3, Wycombe Wanderers 1.
LEON Johnson was sent off after just ten minutes as Wanderers slipped to a defeat entirely of their own making.
The defender left his team mates with an uphill struggle from the start as he held back Marc Richards when the Chesterfield striker pounced on a dreadful error from Stuart Lewis.
Then poor marking led to the two goals that promptly followed as Chesterfield coasted to their first league win of the season.
An own goal from Neal Trotman gave Blues fans hope with plenty of time for an unlikely comeback to be mounted, but the Spireites were able to seal things with a late third thanks to some more sloppy defending.
Visits to Chesterfield’s new ground – now called the Proact Stadium thanks to a sponsorship deal – have often brought out the worst in Wanderers and this showing was no exception.
Both of their previous two trips to the land of the crooked spire resulted in four goals being shipped and Blues were in trouble again with the game barely underway. Lewis stretched to head the ball forward but inadvertently sent it the wrong way into the path of Marc Richards, who raced onto it before being tugged back by Johnson.
Down went the striker and out came the red card, with referee Tim Robinson deeming Johnson to have denied a clear goalscoring opportunity.
That left Wanderers with a mountain to climb but they almost snuck into the lead when Jo Kuffour, who had earlier scuffed wide after a decent build-up down the right, headed straight at Spireites keeper Richard O’Donnell from a left-wing cross.
From there the home side went straight on the attack and took the lead. Experienced striker Richards turned Charles Dunne inside out before picking out debutant Chris Atkinson, who rifled home from six yards.
It got worse barely five minutes later at Sam Togwell’s shot from distance was headed past an unsighted Nikki Bull by Lester – and with the Blues keeper also making a superb fingertip save to turn a Richards header round the post and denying Togwell low down with less than half an hour on the clock, it looked like it was going to be a long afternoon for Wanderers.
They had the possession, with the home side standing off Joel Grant time and again, but all too often a wasteful final ball would ruin Wanderers’ good work further back.
Chesterfield continued to have all the chances and Drew Talbot, Togwell and Richards were all denied in a frantic goalmouth scramble that resulted from Talbot intercepting a sloppy pass from former Spireite Dean Morgan, who was making his Wanderers debut after signing a short-term deal in the week.
Morgan was almost in on goal after a surging Grant run parted the Chesterfield defence, but he was tackled by Trotman as he went to pull the trigger after being just unable to take the pass in his stride.
And Lewis, keen to make amends after his error led to the red card, almost dragged Blues back into it before the break when his dipping volley from Grant’s pass was gratefully clutched at the last second by O’Donnell.
But that looked to be the extent of the comeback as any attacks Wanderers looked to create were swiftly nipped in the bud, and the home side’s lead could have been extended as Lester just failed to make contact with Richards’ low cross and Terrell Forbes had a shot clatter behind off Gary Doherty.
Blues’ most creative player, Grant, almost scored a superb individual effort as he left a trail of defenders in his wake as he darted from the halfway line, but his curling effort was just a touch too far over the crossbar.
The former Jamaica international was left lacking in support from his team mates, and young striker Olly Taylor was introduced from the bench for his first professional game and his presence led to an error that brought Blues back into the game. Keeper O’Donnell failed to reach a corner after being put under pressure by the teenager and the ball bounced into the net off Chesterfield defender Trotman as an opponent netted for Wanderers for the second week running.
With 20 minutes left on the clock that goal gave Blues fans hope and gave the home supporters and players the jitters.
But the expected grandstand finish never materialised and in the end Chesterfield were able to put the game to bed as skipper Sam Hird thundered home Craig Westcarr’s pinpoint free-kick.
Wanderers: Bull, Thompson (sub Taylor), Doherty, Johnson, Dunne, Grant, Lewis, Spring, Parsons (sub Stewart), Kuffour (sub Ainsworth), Morgan. Substitutes not used: Foster, Harrison, Angol, Kewley-Graham.
Attendance: 5,113 (187 from Wycombe)
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