As debuts go, Matty Brown certainly won’t forget this one anytime soon.
The defender put Chesterfield ahead before he was subsequently sent off in the second half when he was adjudged to have brought down Plymouth Argyle’s Caolan Lavery as he bore down on goal.
A penalty was awarded, but whether it was a foul and where the incident had taken place were questioned by the Spireites, who had an inspired Tommy Lee to thank for thwarting Reuben Reid from the spot.
Marc Richards had earlier shown the way with a penalty of his own to put the hosts into a 2-0 lead at the break, which they defended stoutly, even when reduced to ten men, after Brown was given his marching orders.
Chesterfield assistant manager Leam Richardson said following the game: “The lads are a bit disappointed with it (sending off). They thought that first and foremost he’d won the ball. He wasn’t the last man but officials make decisions and we can’t change that.”
The man making the decisions was Andy Haines, who also officiated the Spireites’ 2-2 draw at Rochdale early in the campaign.
On Brown’s performance, Richardson added: “Matty went out on loan to get match fit to come in to the team and that’s exactly what’s happened. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone win a championship or get promoted, or be successful, with 11 players.
“It’s always 20-plus players and we’ve shown that. There are players out there who’ve not had many minutes and got us an important victory.”
And how Chesterfield will need their squad over the coming weeks with a seemingly ever-growing injury list.
Brown was recalled from his loan spell at Southport on Friday after it became clear Liam Cooper, who sustained an ankle injury against Oldham Athletic on Tuesday night, would be unable to play any part in the game.
Chesterfield were also without Jimmy Ryan, who suffered a shoulder injury at Boundary Park, and Ollie Banks, who had felt a slight hamstring strain in training, as well as Sam Morsy (knee), Nathan Smith (ankle) and Gary Roberts (hamstring).
And there was worse to come for the Spireites when Armand Gnanduillet suffered a shoulder injury during a tussle for the ball and was substituted before Marc Richards sustained a foot injury and was replaced at half time.
“We’ve been hit quite hard this last week or so,” said Richardson, who revealed at the time of speaking the extent of the injuries weren’t known. Chesterfield remain hopeful of scratching some names off of the list by the time they travel to Exeter for a Friday night game in League Two.
They go encouraged by a battling performance against Plymouth, managed by former Spireites boss John Sheridan, who created a handful of clear cut opportunities throughout the game. Former Accrington Stanley man, Romuald Boco, wasted the best of these when he blazed over from six yards.
Chesterfield took the lead when Ritchie Humphreys’ corner into a crowded penalty area was powerfully headed home by Brown. Richards kept his nerve from 12 yards to double the hosts’ advantage. Luke McCormick dived the right way but the penalty had too much power and found the bottom corner of the net.
The Spireites looked comfortable before Brown’s afternoon went from good to bad in true pantomime season style when he was dispossessed by Caolan Lavery 25 yards from goal. The defender tried desperately to make up the yards as he gave chase and lunged for the ball but brought the substitute, on loan at Home Park from Sheffield Wednesday, crashing to the turf.
The referee pointed to the spot, backed by the linesman who was waving his flag frantically, and issued Brown with a straight red card. Reid’s lax penalty was saved by Lee, who in truth, could have thrown his cap on it.
Lee would make another vital stop to deny Lavery’s goal-bound header as the Spireites’ defence, marshalled by Ian Evatt, stood firm as they kept pace at the top of the division.
Chesterfield (4-4-2): Lee 8; Talbot 7, Evatt (c) 8, Brown 6, Humphreys 7; Darikwa 7 (McSheffrey 90), Togwell 7, Hird 6, Doyle 7; Gnanduillet 6 (McFadzean 34, 6), Richards 7 (O’Shea HT, 7).
Subs not used: Chapman; Devitt, Broadhead (six substitutions named).
Plymouth (3-5-2): McCormick 6; Blanchard 5, Trotman 6, Nelson 6; Berry 5 (Young 76), Blizzard 5 (Reckord 76), Gurrieri 6, Hourihane 6, Boco 5 (Lavery 54); Reid 5, Alessandra 7.
Subs not used: Cole; Branston, Wotton, Bencherif.
Goals: Brown 9, Richards 42; None.
Bookings: None; Hourihane 41, Reid 65, Blanchard 76.
Sending off: Brown 63.
Referee: Andy Haines (Tyne and Wear).
Attendance: 5,486 (472).