Match Photographer: James Williamson
Match Highlights Courtesy of In-Play Sports
Match Report by Alex Storey
A third minute free-kick from Chesterfield’s George Smith proved decisive as the blue’s claimed their first DCFA Senior Challenge Cup in 81 years against Alfreton Town at their Impact Arena on Tuesday night (April 24).
The first and only strike came with the first effort on goal, when left full-back Smith whipped his set-piece into a crowded area and it found it’s way into the far corner from 20 yards.
The home side nearly got a quick response on 11 minutes when right back Sam Topliss delivered a teasing low ball into the area, but Christopher Sharp failed to covert as his shot was sent straight at goalkeeper Joe Anyon.
On 25 minutes Chesterfield failed to mark substitute Ryan Jennings – who had replaced the injured Brendon Daniels – from a long free kick but he could only slice the ball wide and squandered a decent chance.
But it was Chesterfield who finished the first half brighter with number 10 Joe Rowley frequently getting in behind and running at the back four, and in stoppage time a rapid counter attack resulted in his shot being well saved by Alfreton’s Tobias Johannson.
Half Time: Alfreton Town 0 Chesterfield XI 1
Chesterfield had a half-chance to double their lead on 57 minutes when a free kick was floated into the area to Jack Brownell but his lofted cross-cum-shot looped wide of the far post.
Two minutes later Chesterfield’s Ricky German, who had just come off the bench saw his right footed effort from 15 yards beaten away by Johannson in what was a good opportunity for number two.
But after the hour mark Alfreton really grew into the game and had a great chance to level the game when James Baxendale crossed one to the back-post, but nobody could get on the end of it and goal scorer Smith ushered it to safety.
Five minutes later a deflected effort across goal from Andre Johnson travelled inches wide of the far post, and the following corner somehow went through a whole crowd of bodies without being converted goal wards.
It as almost as if a switch had been flicked from the home side, and their search for an equaliser intensified as the game grew older.
On 75 minutes, a teasing cross to the back post was well diverted by Chesterfield’s Ify Ofoegbu, and their corner a minute later was blocked on the line by Dylan Hand from Thomas Allen’s header.
Two minutes later it could have been game over though, when Levi Amantchi headed a Rowley cross onto the crossbar from five yards.
The Alfreton chances continued to fall though and with three minutes from time Baxendale powered his first-time effort from 18 yards over the bar after the visitors failed to clear.
With the very last play, German weaved his way inside Alfreton’s area before he went down under a challenge only to be booked for simulation, much to the fury of the away bench.
It remained 1-0 and despite Alfreton’s best second half efforts, Chesterfield lifted the trophy for the first time since 1937.
Full Time: Alfreton Town 0 Chesterfield XI 1
After the game, Chesterfield’s Academy Coach Miguel Llera was relieved with the result.
The ex-Sheffield Wednesday defender said: “It was really important tonight for the club and the lads and we performed well and worked really hard and I thought we did a good job.
“We defended well against the crosses and chances on the counter attack but it’s a shame we weren’t more composed with the final pass.
“We had to be physically spot on because we know we knew they could create chances with long balls and we had to fight together, and we did that.”