Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context  

Anstey Nomads 0 Chesterfield 3

FA Cup fourth qualifying round 

JD has been on our minds all week, as we reminisce about our former manager John Duncan, honoured by a minute’s silence before kick-off. The subsequent professional, no risk, right result performance was JD all over. Job Done. 

This match was all about Anstey Nomads, a team from the ninth level of football, based in a village with a population about the same as the number of Chesterfield fans that went to our previous FA Cup tie at Stamford Bridge. The Leicestershire side played their first game in this season’s competition on August 6, the day we travelled down to Dorking Wanderers for our opening NL game and they had battled through five rounds, two of them replayed, one won on penalties, to earn this tie. 

They were the lowest-ranked side left in the world’s oldest tournament and by being drawn against the Spireites, one of the highest-ranked sides in the draw, the match tickled the fancy of the national media and, quite rightly, was chosen for broadcast by the BBC, albeit via the Anstey coloured red button. A bit like Town in the 1996/97 competition, all eyes focussed on the Nomads and only Spireites wanted a blue victory. 

Anstey’s army of volunteers had heaps of work to do to get their Cropston Road home ready for the event, the biggest day in the club’s history, and the welcome we received was as warm as you could imagine. The village turned out and the villagers were amazing.

Paul Cook selected a strong side and, whilst heady heights were rarely (and didn’t need to be) reached during the 90 minutes, there were no nadir moments, helped immensely by taking the lead after just 10 minutes when the returning Armando Dobra headed in the assist King’s cross. Relax. 

Set-plays offered the main defensive danger and at 1-0, the Nomads did test Ross Fitzsimons on one occasion, with the keeper making a fine point-blank save, but the tie was effectively settled when Akwasi Asante, closely accompanied by three red shirts, turned effectively to double the lead on the stroke of half-time. 

He became the first non-league player to score at Stamford Bridge for 107 years, but by scoring in rural Leicestershire, he set a new record by scoring in consecutive FA Cup games against two teams separated by the biggest gap in the pyramid. Over 400 teams sit between Chelsea and Anstey Nomads, and Akwasi is the only man to bridge a gap that big in back-to-back games!

Kabby’s third, which extinguished the hopes of even the most optimisticAnstey supporters, gave Chesterfield’s scoresheet the most international looking of any Spireites FA Cup game, with Albania, The Netherlands and The Democratic Republic of Congo combining to guarantee our presence in the hat on Monday. 

This was an event to remember, not a match to remember. No bananas needed to be negotiated, no BBC footage that will be shown in years to come was recorded, no footnotes in FA Cup history were written. Spireites negotiated the game well, everyone in the team contributed to the victory, whilst no-one in blue had to hyperextend to ensure a successful outcome. A tight Dobra hamstring and a Dutch dead-leg were the only downsides, nowhere near enough to be considered a pyrrhic victory. 

Nomads gaffer Tony Blanchard, who was desperate to avoid a draw as he will be on his holidays on Tuesday, was a very satisfied man at the end of the day. I spoke to him before and after the game and he was as proud as punch about the Cup run as a whole, and so he should be. 

The Spireites will be represented by ball #58 in Monday night’s draw (7pm on BBC 2) and some number to listen out for are 5: Ian Evatt’s Bolton Wanderers, 16: Derby County, 25: Ipswich Town, 28: Mansfield Town, 37: Portsmouth, 38: Rochdale (inevitable, away), 40: Sheffield Wednesday, 60: Buxton, 61: Coalville Town, 77: Needham Market and 79: Merthyr Town. For me? Ball 59: Alvechurch away would be my favoured draw! I predicted Anstey Nomads away, so get your sat navs ready! That said, the law of averages should see us at home after three straight away draws. 

Phil’s Positive: As with any cup competition, being in the next round is always a positive, especially when you’ve achieved that with no real scares or unwanted consequences. One thing’s for sure, we’ll not draw fellow NL teams Notts County, Maidstone United, Bromley, Aldershot Town or Scunthorpe United, who all lost to lower-ranked opposition. 

The Spireites’ next game is at home to Bromley on Saturday, October 22, kick-off 3pm. If you can’t make it, full commentary will be on 1866 Sport, with the build-up starting at 2pm. 

Team v Anstey (4-2-3-1 to start): Fitzsimons; King, Cook, Grimes, Clements; Jones, Oldaker; Mandeville, Asante (Tshimanga 57), Dobra (Cooper 46); Quigley (Whelan 86). 

Subs (not used): Chadwick, Uchegbulam, Akinola, Williams.

Goals: Dobra 10, Asante 45, Tshimanga 83 (Chesterfield)

Referee: Aaron Jackson

Booked: Cook (Chesterfield), Armeni (Anstey)

Attendance: (estimates) 1,500 (250 from Chesterfield)

Netcoms IT 1866 Sport Man of the Match: Liam Mandeville (chosen by Ollie Banks)