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Chesterfield 2, Southend United 1
ARMAND Gnanduillet’s stoppage time header saw Southend United suffer a cruel 2-1 defeat at Chesterfield this afternoon.
The Shrimpers seemed to be heading to the top of the table when Freddy Eastwood cancelled out Gary Roberts’ opener for the Spireites.
But Gnanduillet headed Roberts’ right wing corner in to the roof of the net to condemn Southend to their first league defeat of the season.
Chesterfield were initially on top at the Proact Stadium and, with nine minutes on the clock, Marc Richards sped away from Adam Thompson down the left flank before working his way past the advancing Daniel Bentley.
But, with the goal gaping, Richards could only send a scuffed shot well wide of the left post.
Blues soon hit back with skipper John White shooting straight at Chesterfield goalkeeper Tommy Lee with a low, left footed shot from the edge of the penalty area.
In reply, the experienced Ritchie Humphreys then headed a left wing cross from Nathan Smith over the bar from 12 yards before Humphreys turned provider as his drilled centre was acrobatically volleyed off target by Gary Roberts.
However, the Spireites came even closer to opening the scoring in the 29th minute of the match when Jay O’Shea unleashed a curling shot from 25 yards which seemed destined for the top right hand corner of the net until Daniel Bentley somehow managed to tip it over the crossbar.
Bentley then also easily gathered a low shot from Drew Talbot before Blues’ recalled midfielder Connor Clifford saw his powerful effort from 20 yards diverted over the crossbar for a corner just before the break.
But Chesterfield stepped things up after the break and went in front in the 59th minute when Roberts curled a fantastic 30 yard free-kick high in to the left hand side of the goal past a bemused Bentley.
Shrimpers boss Phil Brown immediately responded by making a change as the fit again Kevan Hurst came on to replace Clifford, who was booked for giving away the foul which led to Roberts’ goal.
And Hurst played a part in helping Southend equalise in the 68th minute when he collected Barry Corr’s knock down from Bentley’s long clearance to tee up Eastwood whose first time shot, with his left foot from 20 yards, was pushed in to the bottom left hand corner of the net by Chesterfield goalkeeper Tommy Lee.
Chesterfield soon came close to regaining the lead when Roberts had another free-kick parried to safety by Bentley before the Shrimpers made their second change of the game with Don Cowan replacing Corr in attack.
Michael Timlin then also entered the action in place of Eastwood but he was unable to help Blues hang on for a point as Gnanduillet’s late header settled an entertaining encounter in favour of the Spireites.