As Cup games go, this one had it all!
Town showed all the fight, spirit and determination that personified the playing career of Caretaker boss Mark Lillis to progress to the second round of this season’s Capital One Cup after extra time at the expense of League 1 Chesterfield.
The Terriers were twice behind in normal time, but backed by a noisy away following they fought back – with Nahki Wells hitting a hat-trick, Jon Stead scoring to cap an impressive display and substitute Joe Lolley notching his first of the season.
Lillis made six changes to the opening day line-up, handing a full Town debut to summer recruit Conor Coady and a competitive debut to ‘keeper Joe Murphy – with a switch to 4-4-2.
Town started well enough, with the recalled Jon Stead holding the ball well. However, the final pass didn’t quite come to fruition.
There were chances for both sides in the first-half, with Chesterfield’s threat being carried in the main from one-time Town Player of the Year Gary Roberts. ‘Robbo’ – the reigning League 2 Player of the Year – was playing centrally off striker Doyle and his 15th minute volley was heading goalwards before Murray Wallace pulled off a brave block.
The Spireites threated again four minutes later when Town skipper Lee Peltier misplaced a clearance straight to Roberts, whose excellent pass split the defence and set Doyle clear. Luckily for Town, the Irishman placed his shot wide of Murphy’s right-hand post.
Town fought back, with Danny Ward – playing on the right wing – entering the area thanks to a pass from Nahki Wells. Just as he looked to pull the trigger, however, right back Tendayi Darikwa got across to execute a superb sliding tackle.
At the other end, veteran Ritchie Humphreys showed a real clinical edge to put the hosts ahead in the 33rd minute. Staying in the box after a set piece was cleared, Humphreys got across a defender to thump a header past Murphy’s right side from left back Daniel Jones’ deep cross.
The Terriers tried to fight back as Dixon slid a smart pass into the area for Ward, who took the ball in his stride and forced ‘keeper Tommy Lee to push his shot over the bar.
Town’s golden first half chance fell to the right man – Nahki Wells. However, he didn’t capitalise. Coady stole possession high up the pitch and drove towards goal, drawing the final defender before slipping the ball to the right for his teammate. Sadly for Town, the Bermudian hit his shot far too close to Lee with the goal at his mercy.
With two minutes of added time signalled, Chesterfield punished Ollie Norwood for a piece of slack play. His poor pass was intercepted and pushed towards substitute Ollie Banks, who didn’t break his stride as he lifted a beautiful curling shot over the helpless Murphy and into the corner of the net in seemingly effortless fashion.
Chesterfield started the second-half well too, but from the moment Wells stung the palms of Lee in the 53rd minute Town – backed by their vociferous fans – took charge.
Wells scored after Lillis had made a tactical switch, moving Ward infield and Norwood onto the right. It was those two who combined in the 58th minute with Ward driving right and passing to Ollie. He delivered a perfect cross into the area for Wells to attack, with his header flying into the top corner.
With the momentum all behind Town, Wells soon latched onto a poor Evatt backpass only for Lee to do well and drive him wide before pushing a shot behind. From the resulting corner, Wallace attacked the ball well – but powered his header over.
However, the Spireites restored their two goal advantage in the 72nd minute thanks to more good play from Roberts. He twisted and turned his way into the box in typical fashion before powering the ball across the face of goal and when Murphy parried, striker Doyle beat everyone else to the ball to tap home.
That man Wells had a big chance to get his side back in it with 13 minutes remaining after Dixon – set clear down the left by Stead – found him with a low cross. However, when a composed head was needed, he lashed a shot wildly over the crossbar from around 12 yards out.
Wells’ second did come though – from the spot. It was the impressive Stead who won the penalty, going down when trying to spin on the ball with defender Darikwa in close attendance. Nahki stepped up – and smashed the penalty past the goalkeeper.
Town’s spirited display was a big improvement to the reaction of going behind on Saturday – and it got its rewards in the third minute of added time. Stead did excellently to battle with a centre back for possession and then cut inside, but his left footed shot looked tame – until it squirmed under Lee and into the net!
That signalled 30 minutes of added time – and it took only four for Town to take the lead for the first time in the game. Fan favourite Lolley made an excellent run into space down the left and pulled the ball back intelligently for Stead; his shot was saved, but Wells followed up like all good strikers to complete his hat-trick.
It was soon 5-3, with Lolley netting a goal of his own. A smart one-two set him into the penalty area, where he calmly looked up and stroked the ball past the goalkeeper from 15 yards for his first of the season.
Town defended bravely as the game drew to a close, throwing bodies in the way of shots despite some obviously tired legs.
Town’s team (4-4-2):
Joe Murphy; Paul Dixon, Murray Wallace, Lee Peltier (c), Tommy Smith; Sean Scannell (Radoslaw Majewski, 66), Oliver Norwood (Adam Hammill, 81), Conor Coady, Danny Ward (Joe Lolley, 86); Jonathan Stead
Alex Smithies, Jonathan Hogg, Matt Crooks, Joel Lynch
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