Tooley’s Take

Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context  

Boston United 0 Chesterfield 2 Pre-season friendly 

Ironically, on the day the Commonwealth Games began in Birmingham, this was Bostin! 

Another win, another clean sheet, another injury free day, another day with plenty of chances created and, for the first time in Paul Cook’s second spell as gaffer, Kabongo Tshimanga finished a game on the park and not in an ambulance. 

The performance and win were great, but the smile on Kabby’s face when he entered the field, albeit on 87 minutes, lit up Lincolnshire and the welcome he received, not only from the 200+ travelling Spireites, but also from the gracious home fans, was heart-warming. What a feel good moment, what a boost for every Spireite. 

By the time last season’s top scorer entered the fray, Town were two up. Like in the Bradford City game, the first half was solid, with the Pilgrims’ progress minimal and their keeper, Rhys Davies, the star of the show. 

Boston worked very hard and forced Chesterfield to think about what they had to do. The opening 45 was good, but not quite a free-flowing as against the Bantams, though more chances were created against last season’s National League North play-off finalists than against the League Two joint favourites. The keeper, the bar and a whole host of legs and torsos kept Spireites at bay. 

Ten minutes after the re-start, the deserved opener arrived. King Jeff delivered a right sided corner which arrived in the vicinity of Jamie Grimes at an awkward waist height. No problem. The left-footer jumped up and coolly volleyed home, albeit from close in, with the inside of his right boot. A quality striker’s finish from the skipper. 

Grimes, doing his main job, was in fine fettle, but partner Tyrone Williams alongside continued his excellent pre-season with another just about faultless performance. 

Williams, Joe Quigley, Liam Mandeville and Akwasi Asante, for me, have all come back in great shape and in fine form and have stepped up their performance levels to new highs. 

I know we’ve not played Wrexham or Notts County yet, but this quartet have all bought into #Cookball and are delivering it in a manner that has more than pleasantly surprised. So are plenty of others! 

Best Sub City cameos? George Cooper’s 16+2 minutes was off the scale, whilst Michael Gyasi showed some quality in the box for his goal, where he kept a cool head to collect, control and convert in a crowded six-yard box. 

Let’s put into perspective the travelling contingent. It was less then 50 fewer than Bradford City brought to The Technique last week, on a Saturday, for much easier journey. 

City’s lowest League crowd last season was 13,646, on a cold February day against Stevenage. For a Friday friendly on a no motorway involved journey, 227 was some showing, and they were rewarded with Town’s first ever friendly win over Boston. 

Six previous attempts, all at United’s former York Street home, several draws but never the main prize. The return journey was made even more frustrating as the A17 was closed, with the diversion enabling travellers to witness a lit up Lincoln Cathedral in all its glory. Mind you, it directed me by a good chippy! 

Five friendlies – three in front of the public – five wins, four clean sheets, plenty of players in the zone. Not a bad July, but the six games scheduled for August are what count, starting at Meadowbank next Saturday. Banana skin territory. 

To finish on a Commonwealth Games theme, my medals for performances so far:

Gold – Joe Quigley – could easily light up the Games’ torch as he’s on fire.

Silver – Branden Horton – looks like he could rival Assist King Jeff. 

Bronze – Jeff King – another who’s bought into #Cookball, defensively up ten notches.

Flag Bearer – Jamie Grimes – Captain Fantastic.

Phil’s Positive: You can’t beat the feeling of winning and this pre-season, all Town have done is win…. Oh, and Kabby on the park was pretty good!

The Spireites’ next game is for real, on Saturday, August 6, the club’s first ever trip to newly promoted Dorking Wanderers, playing their first match at this level. Not one of the lucky ones with a ticket? Full match build-up and commentary on 1866 Sport. 

Team v Boston (4-2-3-1 to start): Covolan; King (Sheckleford 84), Williams (Cook 84), Grimes (Maguire 86), Horton (Clements 84); Oldaker (Whelan 84), Banks (Trialist 84); Mandeville (Tshimanga 87), Dobra (Cooper 74), Asante (Uchegbulam 84); Quigley (Gyasi 74).

Goals: Grimes 55, Gyasi 78 (Chesterfield)

Referee: Aaron Bannister

Attendance: 942 (227 from Chesterfield)