Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context  

Chesterfield 1 Aldershot Town 0 National League Match #2

Credit to both teams; in ridiculous heat, the pace and intensity of the game carried on at high levels for the vast majority of the game, a testimony to the fitness and preparation required to compete at this level. The days of plucky non-leaguers fading after an hour have been well and truly put to bed. 

Alders-HOT provided stiffer opposition than I expected after losing 4-1 at home to Solihull Moors in their opener. They had plenty of positive moments in the game, winning more corners than Chesterfield, hitting the bar, Inih Effiong was a real handful throughout and their rampaging wing-backs gave our full-backs plenty to think about, pinning King and Horton in their own half more than most would have envisaged. 

But Mark Molesley’s side didn’t have the Pony-Tailed Pirlo, playing passes we’ve not seen the likes of for many a year, the Albanian Arrow, darting through the final third time and again, or

Towering Tyrone, who won just about all of his duels. And the Shots’ shots lacked the elan of Liam, who had plenty to do after receiving the ball from our keeper-turned-play-maker, ahead of converting from a tight angle. There was loads to get enthused about, but not quite enough to get carried away!

Those who’ve seen video evidence (not me), said Joe Quigley’s header, scooped away by Fulham loanee Luca Ashby-Hammond, was over the line. Fortunately, he was able to do that right handed, because his left hand must have still been stinging from palming over Ollie Banks’ piledriver a little earlier. 

At the opposite end, back again keeper Ross Fitzsimons had a much quieter afternoon, with there being no need to raid his top drawer. I asked lots of supporters before the game if they could remember his only previous game in our shirt. Everyone remembered his show for Notts against us, when he saved Scott Boden’s penalty* (*technically a back-pass rather than a penalty!) after being recalled from his loan with us, but no-one immediately recalled that his only 45 minutes in ‘blue’ was as a half-time sub for Shwan Jalal in arguably the most important game in our history, the March 2020 win at Chorley. Failure to have won that would have seen us relegated on points per game. 

Rarely (probably never) will we have signed a player whose last game was in Europe! He played for St Joseph’s of Gibraltar in the Europa Conference League in both legs against both Larne and Slavia Prague, with his opposite number in the Prague games being Czech full international Ales Mandous, whilst one of his opponents in the Larne games was a certain ex-Spireite Mark Randall, who picked up two yellows in the second leg, and St Joseph’s winner came a minute later. 

George Cooper also made his debut, his first competitive appearance of 2022, whilst his two fellow subs were also returning to the scene after injury-hit years, Jack Clarke, like Cooper, made his first appearance of the calendar year, whilst the second loudest cheer of the day came on the hour, when Kabongo Tshimanga entered the fray six months and one day after his broken leg picked up in Paul Cook’s return at Weymouth. I doubt Spireites have, in their National League career, been able to bring on such an impressive trio of replacements. Augurs well, especially with Akwasi Asante and Danny Rowe also waiting in the wings. 

The win makes it 13 games unbeaten against Aldershot Town, whose last three-points against us was in our Saltergate days, and they remain (along with FC Halifax Town) one of just two on zero points after two games. At the head of the table, it seems bizarre that no-one sits on six. 

Right from the first whistle, the fans were in fine voice and really up for the game. The crowd of 6,060 was the highest first home game crowd since we dropped out of the EFL in 2018, almost 700 up on the previous highest opener, 5,366 against Wealdstone last season, and it’s worth noting how things have changed since then. The list of players that started that match just less than a year ago and also started against the Shots is as follows: Jeff King. That’s it, just him, and he limped off after 15 minutes to be replaced by George Carline against the Stones. 

The week also saw the second anniversary of the Community Trust taking ownership of the club. Whilst there have been bumps in the road along the way, it’s been an upward trajectory since then culminating in the ultimate success, seeing ice cream vans in the stadium! We just need to ensure the team gets its own ‘99’ in the end of season points column, with numbers five to ten set to be fought over in what we all hope is one of those future historic weeks to remember. 

Phil’s Positive: Plan B, starting in a 4-4-2 formation, saw the team create plenty of chances and look tight at the back. Plenty of different MOTM contenders as well always makes for a positive environment. 

The Spireites’ next game is at home on Tuesday evening, when a pretty full Technique will see Town take on the team we’ve played more than any other, Wrexham. The 124th meeting kicks-off at 7.45pm. Can’t get or even going? Full match build-up on 1866 Sport Live starts at 7pm, so listen via the app, Smart Speaker or online.

Team v Aldershot (4-4-2 to start): Fitzsimons; King, Williams, Grimes, Horton; Mandeville, Oldaker, Banks Dobra (Cooper 74); Gyasi (Tshimanga 60), Quigley (Clarke 85).

Subs (not used): Maguire, Jones

Goal: Mandeville 64 (Chesterfield)

Referee: Andrew Miller

Booked: Banks (Chesterfield), Glover (Aldershot)   

Attendance: 6,060 (163 from Aldershot)

1866 Sport Man of the Match: Armando Dobra (chosen by Akwasi Asante)