Spireites win at Grimsby

Kabongo Tshimanga scored a late goal to seal a 1-0 win at Grimsby Town. 

The striker found the net with a stunning volley from a Jim Kellermann free kick.

It is now 12 games unbeaten after the team followed James Rowe’s orders to the letter. The football was cagey with both sides looking to avoid errors but, despite seeing little of the ball, Tshimanga did exactly what he was signed to do.

Without that goal, Chesterfield would have lost their place at the top of the table after Boreham Wood maintained their momentum.

Just recently all the talk has been about the FA Cup but Rowe will have talked to his players, brought them down to earth and made them realise that the fixture at Blundell Park is the most important game…until the next one comes along! 

Just because the Mariners’ early-season form had deserted  them (six defeats in the last seven fixtures) didn’t mean they weren’t eager to put the slump behind them; however, injuries and suspensions will have made their task much harder.

The Spireites’ last game in Cleethorpes in April 2018 effectively set relegation from the EFL in motion; a late penalty sealed the defeat but, in truth, what hurt the travelling fans the most was the the lack of spirit shown. 

Supporters will have again arrived in Lincolnshire in large numbers, for the latest episode in the long-running rivalry between the two clubs, knowing that the current Chesterfield team always give their all for the cause.

The starting XI showed just the one change from the side that started the Salford Cup-tie. In came Tyrone Williams for Luke Croll who wasn’t risked. The great news was that Akwasi Asante was deemed fit enough for a place on the bench.

Probably the biggest game of the season, to date, got underway in front of a sell-out crowd. The Spireites kicked off and pushed forward immediately thanks to a well-directed ball from Jamie Grimes.

Harry Clifton was penalised for a reckless foul on Curtis Weston and was lucky to escape with just a “talking to”.

Grimsby gained a couple of corner-kicks in quick succession but failed to capitalise; in fact neither side had created a serious  opening in the first 15.

Tshimanga was getting little space but lots of attention; he was unceremoniously bundled over on the half-way line but the free-kick was wasted.

A great ball in from the right by Grimsby’s Luke Waterfall provided Harry Clifton with a great opening, he got the power but not the direction as his effort flew wide of Loach’s left upright.

A second chance came the Mariners’ way when a clearance found Sam Bell, just outside the area. He tried his luck with a low down blast but watched as his effort missed the target.

The Spireites’ best opening came on 30 minutes after Grimes had floated in a teasing ball from the left wing; It found Kellermann but his strained effort lacked power and sailed wide.

A speculative ball in, moments later, from Calvin Miller on the left looked to be flying out of play but clipped the crossbar on its way to safety.

The home crowd called for handball as Miller looked to have controlled the ball, the referee disagreed and he went on a mazy run only for Kellermann to fail to utilise the neat pass he received.

Grimsby broke quickly again and gained another flag-kick that was defended well and cleared.

So close for the Spireites in the last minute of the half: under-pressure Tshimanga laid off well for birthday-boy Kellermann who hit an angled effort well only for Max Crocombe to tip to safety.

In added-time Liam Mandeville picked up well but rushed his chipped shot as it floated harmlessness over the crossbar. 

All level at the interval with Chesterfield growing into the game after the home side had spurned two good early openings.

A scrappy re-start saw Giles Coke pick up the first yellow card of the game for a niggly foul on Liam Mandeville.

Williams and Mandeville combined well to provide a great pass to Tshimanga wide on the right. His rushed shot  whizzed through the defence to safety. 

The lively Michee Efete broke well on the right and should have continued but instead his shot from distance posed no threat.

Rowe made his first change midway through the half as Jack Clarke replaced Liam Mandeville.

Clarke was quickly into the game with a couple of quality incisive passes that just didn’t quite pay off.

The game was finely balanced with neither side in control but both wary of giving anything away.

Manny Oyeleke made way for Saidou Khan after 80 mins as the Spireites looked to find a breakthrough.

That breakthrough came just three minutes later when, from a Kellermann free-kick, Tshimanga volleyed home from close range after Fraser Kerr had provided the opening.

Two minutes later Tshimanga received wide on the right, cut in and fired in another testing effort that forced Crocombe to save low down. In the 90th minute, Tshimanga stepped aside as Stefan Payne brought some fresh legs for the four added minutes.

With seconds to go Grimsby missed a huge chance to level as Adam Crookes fired over from inches out; after that the Spireites eased their way through the remaining extra minute added.

At the final whistle you could almost touch the relief felt by both the noisy travelling fans and the players……..and did they celebrate………deservedly

Chesterfield: Loach, Miller, Williams, Oyeleke (Khan), Weston, Mandeville (Clarke), Kellermann, Tshimanga (Payne),  Grimes, Whittle, Kerr 

Unused Substitutes: Asante & McCourt

Attendance: 6,504 including 1,483 Chesterfield supporters