IAN GREAVES’ reshuffle for Town’s first-ever league clash with Chesterfield paid dividends as Mick Fairclough’s goal clinched the points at Leeds Road.
After successive relegations had dumped Town in Division III (now League I), it was crucial they got off to a solid start.
And the 1-0 victory over the Spireites meant that in the days of two points for a win, Greaves’ side had five from a possible eight.
Their sole defeat had come in the previous game at Port Vale, and Greaves responded to the 4-2 setback by making four changes against Chesterfield.
Frontmen Jimmy Lawson and Phil Summerill were out injured while full-back Graeme McGifford and midfielder Brian Marshall were dropped.
In came Dennis Clarke – despite a request to go on the transfer list – Jimmy Nicholson, Steve Smith and Fairclough.
All four had represented Town in the top flight, with Irishman Fairclough, signed from Drogheda in August 1971, making his 25th start in all.
Chesterfield, bossed by former Sheffield United defender Joe Shaw, were fresh from an away win at Bournemouth.
As well as reliable frontman Ernie Moss, they had experienced pair Frank Large and ex-Barnsley centre-back Eric Winstanley in their ranks.
But they were very much second-best against a home side who produced some of their best football in memory.
“It was terrific attacking play, and it was only a shame we couldn’t get more goals, but at least we won the match,” said Greaves, in his sixth season at the helm.
“Chesterfield are a good side and they made us work hard, but we have to take confidence from this result.
“We know we have the ability, but we have to match the opposition for effort as well, and we did that on this occasion.”
Fairclough’s fourth goal for the club was executed simply but came at the end of an intricate build-up.
Nicholson slotted the ball forward for Alan Gowling, who allowed it to run past Ken Burton then nipped in to cross for the unmarked Fairclough to convert.
Nicholson was in fine form, supplying steadiness, quick thinking and a procession of precise passes.
But Town’s top man was Terry Dolan, who played in the centre of defence and dealt with everything which came his way.
Keeper Terry Poole had just one tame shot and two crosses to deal with all night.
Meanwhile his opposite number Jim Brown produced spectacular saves from Dolan and Gowling.
Town: Poole, Clarke, Garner, Nicholson, Saunders, Dolan, Hoy, Gowling, Fairclough, S Smith, Chapman. Sub not used: D Smith.
Chesterfield: Brown, Tiler, Burton, Barlow, Winstanley, Stott, McHae, Moss, Large, Bellamy, Wilson (Kabia).