Paul Cook’s Chesterfield side came from behind to maintain their unbeaten start to the 2022/23 season with a gutsy 2-1 victory away to Altrincham.
Two goals in three minutes saw Chesterfield overturn a half-time deficit, with Tyrone Williams netting the equaliser just after the interval, before Kabongo Tshimanga completed the comeback moments later.
The three points take the Spireites to the top of the National League table after six games, but it had looked as if Chesterfield’s afternoon was heading in a different direction when Toby Mullarkey volleyed the hosts ahead in first-half added time.
Alive in the box, Mullarkey was on hand to convert from close range, following a controversial decision that saw Altrincham awarded a free kick inside the Chesterfield half.
Armando Dobra, who was involved in the incident, spent a period of time receiving treatment, before eventually being taken off by Chesterfield boss Cook.
Unsurprisingly, Cook was enraged by the decision to award the free kick that led to the goal, with the former Ipswich Town and Wigan Athletic manager berating the fourth official.
Amidst ironic cheers from the Altrincham supporters in Moss Lane’s main stand just behind him, Cook’s protests fell on deaf ears, as Mullarkey’s emphatic strike gave the home side a welcome lead.
Phil Parkinson’s Altrincham had struggled in the early stages of the contest, with Liam Mandeville seeing a goal-bound strike cleared off the line after just four minutes.
The Chesterfield pressure would continue, as the visitors took control of possession, yet further chances for Darren Oldaker and Dobra would come and go, without the Spireites managing to take advantage.
Having weathered the early storm, Altrincham began to grow in confidence, with Ryan Colclough at the heart of all things positive for the Robins.
Without a win heading into the Bank Holiday Monday fixtures, Altrincham’s surprise lead against early title contenders Chesterfield would’ve no doubt pleased boss Parkinson.
Yet, no sooner had the players returned from their half-time interval, had the game been tipped on its head, with a matter of minutes separating the two Chesterfield goals.
Ghosting in at the back post, defender Williams needed no invitation to head home Jeff King’s looping cross.
Now in the ascendency, the eventual winner would arrive only three minutes later, as Tshimanga netted his second goal in as many games to give Chesterfield the lead.
Stunned by the quick-fire comeback, Altrincham found it difficult to respond to Chesterfield’s swift double, with the away side happy to take the sting out of any Robins’ attacks.
Fairly comfortable throughout the second half, Chesterfield’s grip on the three points almost slipped with five minutes to go, after Chris Conn-Clarke’s threaded back-post pass found an onrushing Colclough, but the Altrincham forward was unable to divert goalward.
A frustrating end for Altrincham, who remain winless in their first season as a professional club, with a difficult trip to Solihull Moors awaiting them at the weekend.
For Chesterfield, the early pace setters will look to continue their unbeaten start to the campaign when they make the trip to Oldham Athletic on Saturday afternoon.
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