Burton Albion had to produce another stirring defensive display to clinch an impressive point at a resurgent Chesterfield. Jacques Maghoma latched onto Calvin Zola's header on 34 minutes to calmly strike Burton ahead but after an avalanche of second half pressure the home side finally got back on level terms through former Port Vale striker Marc Richards. The home side were reduced to ten men in stoppage time as Jack Lester saw red for a tussle with Zander Diamond.
Albion ventured to the home of the Spireites showing two changes to the team that ground out last weekend's victory against Accrington Stanley. Despite scoring the only goal of the game against his former club, Billy Kee was left out to accommodate the seemingly preferred away formation as Cleveland Taylor came back in on the right side of an attacking three and there was a recall for Jack Dyer into the midfield three supporting.
Chesterfield went into the game on the back of a four match winning run making them the League's form side and could also boast former Arsenal and Fulham winger Luis Boa Morte amongst their line-up. However shortly before kick off the former Portuguese international was forced to withdraw after picking up an injury in the warm up. The second time in a week a high profile player had been forced to pull out from playing against the Brewers. Brennan Dickinson stepped up from the bench to take Boa Morte's place with Scott Boden promoted to the bench.
Keen to keep their impressive run going the home side were straight onto the attack and a surging from from Dickinson won a corner off Jack Dyer. The ball was slung in and when the ball was retrieved from beyond the far post it was Liam Cooper who rose at the back post to head just wide of the post.
There was a nervy moment in the Albion defence on nine minutes as a raking pass from midfield found Marc Richards out on the left hand side and his driven cross almost deceived Dean Lyness who grabbed the ball at the second attempt as Marcus Holness let the ball go through to him.
Jay O'Shea was denied by a block from Zander Diamond as Chesterfield began to stretch the Burton defence and from the corner it was Cooper again who got up to head downwards only for the ball to bounce over the goal.
Lee Bell was the first player to go into referee Geoff Eltringham's notebook for a reckless challenge on Dickinson and it almost cost Albion dearly as Mark Randall swung in the free kick from close to the touchline and as Lyness failed to get hands on the ball it bounced wide of the post.
Albion began to threaten more and a Lee Bell corner deceived everyone inside the penalty area before going beyond the far post and then as Chesterfield dithered in midfield Cleveland Taylor crossed for Zola but his header at full stretch was easy for Tommy Lee to collect.
The Brewers were inches away from breaking the deadlock on the half hour mark as a break away from Maghoma saw him brought down twenty five yards from goal and Bell had goalkeeper Lee beaten from the free kick but the ball came back into play off the face of the post.
Albion though were ahead on 34 minutes. A long clearance from Lyness was flicked on by Zola and MAGHOMA was there to pounce on the ball, burst past his man and calmly beat Lee for his seventh goal of the season.
Robbie Weir quickly had a chance to double Burton's advantage but blazed over and it was almost all square again as Chesterfield pressed for an immediate equaliser. Jay O'Shea managed to prod a shot through a crowded penalty area and after numerous deflections Lyness eventually cleared off the line right at the base of his left hand post.
Chesterfield continued to threaten, particularly from corners and Cooper was off target with another towering header as was Marc Richards who powered over the bar.
Albion could have been two up in stoppage time as a Taylor cross seemed certain to be headed home by Zola but he mistimed his effort and then as the ball fell loose he fouled Lee as he stretched to try and poke the ball home.
Half time: Chesterfield 0-1 Burton Albion
The second half got off to a controversial start as Albion were denied what seemed a perfectly legitimate goal in the 48th minute. Anthony O'Connor's measured cross was met by a firm header from Zola who forced a good save from Lee. The former Manchester United trainee keeper didnt seem to have control of the ball as Maghoma swooped to poke the ball in but referee Eltringham adjudged, rather harshly, that there had been a foul.
The home side, perhaps sensing they had been fortuitously reprieved, surged forwards and it was all hands to the pumps as Albion defended manfully. The Albion goal had something of a charmed life about it in the 59th minute as Randall, a former Arsenal product, rattled the inside of the post from a free kick with Albion desperately scrambling the ball clear in the aftermath.
It was becoming all one way pressure for a spell and left back Nathan Smith was off target with a speculative shot on 64 minutes that flew wide of the goal. A minute later and the woodwork again came to Albion's rescue as a superb cross from the left picked out Richards beyond the back post and his header across beat the keeper but bounced back into play off the post.
With twenty minutes to go Chesterfield made their first change as they brought on the hugely experienced Jack Lester in place of Dickinson to add some more guile to the home attack.
The home pressure had to tell and eventually it did in the 74th minute. It was another angled ball in from the left and this time RICHARDS made no mistake with his header to plant it back across Lyness and inside the post.
Strangely the tempo of the game subsided somewhat once the hosts were back on level terms although it was still the home side looking the more likely to grab the next goal.
With five minutes to go Albion made a double change as both Billy Kee and Justin Richards entered the fray in place of Cleveland Taylor and Calvin Zola.
Chesterfield introduced Conor Townsend and also Craig Clay as the game ran into stoppage time and still looked the more likely side to edge it. There was still time for drama as Spireites substitute Lester saw red late on for stupidly throwing Zander Diamond to the ground as the two challenged for the ball in midfield.
In the end Albion came away with a deserved battling point to end the home sides winning run.
CHESTERFIELD: Lee, Talbot, Smith, Hird, Cooper, Darikwa, Togwell, Randall, Dickinson, O'Shea, Richards. Substitutes: O'Donnell, Lester, Clay, Boden, Whitaker, Townsend, Forbes.
ALBION: Lyness; O'Connor, Diamond, Holness, McCrory; Dyer, Bell, Weir; Taylor, Zola, Maghoma. Substitutes: Atkins, Webster, Stanton, McGrath, J.Richards, Palmer, Kee.
Referee: Mr. G.Eltringham (Co. Durham)
GOALS: chesterfield - Richards (74); Burton - Maghoma (34)
Attendance: 5,741 (468 away)