Exeter City’s 2012/13 campaign came to a disappointing end at the Proact Stadium, as hosts Chesterfield ran out 4-0 winners.
The Spireites hadn’t posed any more of a threat than the Grecians when the first goal came – a thunderbolt before Marc Richards headed in a second and Jack Lester converted a penalty that he won himself before the interval.
Lester completed a brace just before the 60-minute mark after beating the offside trap, completing the scoring for Chesterfield.
Paul Tisdale opted for something of an experimental squad for the eighth-place shoot-out against the Spireites, with Anton Rodgers making his first start for the Grecians and Jordan Moore-Taylor
retaining his place at centre-half, despite Pat Baldwin
coming through training after the injury that had sidelined him a week before.
was leading the line, with Alan Gow
in support. The last game of the 2012/13 season was also the final match of Lester’s career, as the 37-year-old called time on a career that dated back to his first game as a Grimsby player in 1994, including the last six with the Spireites.
Gow was the first City player to get a shot away at goal, and his early effort bent marginally wide. Lawson D’Ath
had conceded possession around the halfway line but showed the tenacity to win the ball back and feed the Scotsman – and after a solo run, Gow’s shot from the right shaved the post.
Just as the hail started lashing down in Derbyshire, Sam Togwell chanced his arm at the other end from outside the box, after Jay O’Shea had shown some trickery on the deck to create some space.
With Rodgers sitting deep, Scot Bennett
was playing in support of Gow and Reid – and was nearly handed a tap-in for his persistence. After a quick burst of pace by Gow, he had the ball taken off him by Drew Talbot – and with Bennett lurking in close quarters, the defender showed a clever touch to escape the danger.
And while the spritely City squad were playing some smooth and accomplished attacking football, it was the hosts that opened the scoring when O’Shea cut in off the left flank to thunder a right-footed effort goalwards from the apex of the box. He lashed the ball right over Artur Krysiak
, leaving the stopper with no chance of keeping out the Irishman’s effort.
It sparked a spate of goals for the home side, who had doubled their lead within ten minutes. After Tendayi Darikwa had won a free-kick on the left-hand touchline deep inside Exeter territory, and Conor Townsend’s dead-ball was ideal for Marc Richards to glance home a header.
Minutes later, the Grecians were chasing a three-goal deficit when Lester earned a penalty after crumbling under a challenge by Danny Coles
. The striker stepped up himself to dink a cool penalty into the bottom corner.
Exeter had the ball in the net soon after, but the joy was short-lived as an outstretched flag by the linesman brought the celebrations to an end. Alan Gow
had whipped in a great free-kick from the right which Bennett headed in powerfully, but he was adjudged to have been beyond the last defender.
Gow had another free-kick from a similar position just before the interval but opted to go directly for goal – and Richard O’Donnell was alert to scoop the ball around the near post.
Half-time: Chesterfield 3 Exeter City 0
O’Shea had a chance straight after the interval as he received the ball on the left, but his side-footed effort cleared the goal. Almost immediately at the other end, Gow danced through a few tackles before unleashing a 20-yard effort, which arrowed a fraction beyond the top corner.
Before the hour mark, City were trailing by four. O’Shea stormed forward after a period of sustained possession for Chesterfield and poked into the path of Lester. The veteran striker and his cohort looked to be beyond the Exeter defensive line, but no flag was forthcoming – so Lester slotted in his second and the Spireites’ fourth.
City were struggling to fashion chances, though a great ball upfield by D’Ath almost picked out the run of Scot Bennett
– but it just skipped up out of reach to be collected by O’Donnell.
The stopper had to be alert once again in the final few minutes – firstly by producing a great reaction save to deny Chamberlain from a volleyed effort, and then to get something on Gow’s follow-up as City had to settle for a corner.
Bennett was the last Exeter player to have a chance to find the net for the Grecians after D’Ath’s persistence kept the ball alive – but O’Donnell again made a fine block from close range to keep his clean-sheet intact.
But that’s the way it ended for Exeter, as a 4-0 defeat marked the close of the 2012/13 season.
Full-time: Chesterfield 4 Exeter City 0
Chesterfield: O’Donnell; Talbot, Trotman, Cooper, Townsend; Darikwa, Togwell, Randall, O’Shea (Whitaker 65); Richards (Gnanduillet 71), Lester (Henshall 74).
Subs (not used): Barrington, Clay, Hird, Hazel.
Goals: O’Shea (22), Richards (30), Lester (34 pen, 58).
Exeter City: Krysiak; Woodman (Anderson 62), Coles, Moore-Taylor, Dawson; Rodgers (Gosling 67), Bennett, D’Ath, Davies; Gow; Reid (Chamberlain 51).
Subs (not used): Evans, Doherty, O'Flynn, Keohane.
Referee: T. Bates