The FA Cup dream is over for Daventry Town, but boy did they go down fighting in a 2-0 defeat at Sky Bet League Two high-flyers Chesterfield.
Darran Foster’s men turned in a superb performance to frustrate the Spireites at the Proact Stadium, with the home side not breaking the deadlock until 21 minutes from the end.
Gary Roberts’ strike on 69 minutes and a deflected 89th-minute effort from Jimmy Ryan ultimately ensured Daventry were beaten, but Foster and his players could hold their heads high.
Up until Chesterfield’s opener, the Calor League Division One Central side had more than held their own, particularly in a fantastic first half effort.
Daventry would have been expecting an early attacking onslaught from the home side, but it never came.
Chesterfield instead were very slow in getting forward and it wasn’t until the 13th minute they had their first shot, midfielder Ollie Banks breaking through to the edge of the penalty area, but sending his left foot shot wide of the target.
Daventry were more than holding their own, with the defence of Ollie Wilkinson, Josh Blake, Dolman and the speedy Marcel Simpson rock solid.
It was 20 minutes into the game before the Spireites attack got in behind the Town back four, and it resulted in the best chance of the half for the home side.
Gary Roberts for once got the better of Blake down the right and clipped in a lovely cross which was met by the head of Marc Richards, whose effort was blocked by Dolman. The ball rebounded to Gary McSheffrey on the left edge of the six yard box, and he fizzed a low shot across the goal but wide of the far post, Eoin Doyle just unable to divert the ball home.
As the half wore on, Daventry got into the match more and more as an attacking force.
On 30 minutes, Ryan Howell produced a bit of magic down the left flank to beat his man, but his cross was just behind Tom Lorraine, who could only head the ball high and wide.
Daventry goalkeeper Richard Morris then did superbly to nick the ball off the toe of Doyle following a cross from the right from Richards, before at the other end, Dolman saw his shot blocked after Daventry had claimed their first corner of the game.
Moments later, a defensive mistake alloed Lorraine to break into the box, but his low shot was deflected just past the post.
Confidence was growing within the Daventry ranks, and on 42 minutes Ross Oulton produced a lovely bit of footwork on the edge of the penalty area to work room for a shot, but his curling left foot effort lacked power and Lee made a comfortable save.
The half-time whistle was met boos and jeers from the home supporters, but the travelling ‘Purple Army’ were in raptures at what they had just seen their team produce.
The 0-0 scoreline certainly didn’t flatter Daventry, but they knew the job was only half done.
Chesterfield must have been given a rollicking by boss Paul Cook at the interval, because they started the second half with much greater purpose.
Morris was forced into an excellent early save from a powerful McSheffrey shot, and then Banks curled a low shot from 15 yards just the wrong side of the post with Morris beaten.
Then came possibly the key moments of the game, as the inspirational Dolman was forced off injured with a hamstring strain after 55 minutes, and shortly afterwards Town also lost Beckley after a sturdy challenge from Banks.
The winger was carried off and it looked serious, but thankfully he recovered sufficiently to travel back to Northamptonshire after the gamne with his team-mates.
Both of those players had been key men for Daventry, and the visitors suffered a further blow on 69 minutes when Roberts ghosted in unmarked at the far post to hammer home a free-kick delivered from the right.
Daventry were really up against it now, and Dolman’s replacement Joe Henderson had to produce a brilliant last-ditch tackle to keep the score at 1-0.
Chesterfield’s fitness was really beginning to tell now as gaps opened up in Daventry’s defence and midfield, but Morris produced a string of good saves to keep the gap at one goal until he was beaten in the 89th-minute, Ryan’s 20-yard shot taking a wicked deflection that saw it loop over the goalkeeper and into the net off the underside of the crossbar.
Daventry pressed for a consolation, but it wasn’t to be, and they had to make do with a standing ovation at the end from the 750 travelling supporters, as well as a good ovation from 100s of Chesterfield supporters that stayed behind in the main stand.
Teams: Chesterfield: Lee, Banks, Hird, Cooper, Richards (65, Gnanduillet), Roberts, Ryan, Doyle (81 mins, Darikwa), Evatt, Talbot, McSheffrey (57 mins, O’Shea)
Subs not used: Togwell, Humphreys, Devitt, Chapman
Daventry: Morris, Wilkinson, Blake, Simpson, Dolman (55 mins, Henderson), Confue, Oulton, Howell (79 mins, Cross) , Robinson, Lorraine, Beckley (63 mins, Murphy).
Subs not used: Ebanks, Sanders, King, Iustin
Goals: 1-0 - 69 mins Roberts; 2-0 - 89 mins Ryan.
Yellow cards: 18 mins: McSheffrey (foul on Lorraine); 29 mins: Roberts (foul on Beckley); 50 mins: Ryan (foul on Beckley); 65 mins: Cooper (foul on Murphy)
Referee: Darren Handley