Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context  

Chesterfield 2 Solihull Moors 0

National League Match #19

Association Football is a team sport played between two teams of 11 players who primarily use their feet to propel the ball around a rectangular field called a pitch. That’s what Wikipedia says, so it’s bound to be right! 

However, against a tricky as ever Solihull Moors side, Chesterfield’s game would be better described as 11 players that use their feet to propel themselves around the park in majestic fashion to prevent the opposition getting close to the attacking danger zone when the side in yellow are propelling the ball with their feet. The propelling of the ball by the feet of Chesterfield players? To be honest, could do better!

In short, #Cookball’s press-pass ingredients were ten out of ten for press but probably only seven out of ten for pass. Out of possession, that’s the best I’ve seen since the gaffer’s return, probably the best since the Morsy-Ryan days. In possession, first half in particular, there were significantly more misplaced passes than usual, but the shape of the team, the work ethic and Majestic Mike prevented Moors from building any real heads of steam. Forget Nathan Smith, Mike Jones now has been awarded the use of the trademark ‘that tackle!’. Breath-taking. 

An early-ish near post header from Quigs (every regular NL goal he’s scored for us, the team has won, only Solihull in the play-offs didn’t garner a win), with Assist-King Jeff delivering (again), despite our right-back being arguably the biggest pass culprit early on. He must be human after all. 

The unchanged team, subs included, and all three changes were also the same as at Torquay (come in Stuart Basson, must be a first since the introduction of three from five possible replacements, put your retirement to good use), looked as solid as I’ve seen in any NL game, the 4-1-4-1 and the personnel that fill it is a joy to watch, whether going forwards or dealing with quick counters or sustained pressure, not that there’s been too much of the latter of late. The five 4-1-4-1’s have seen five wins, 12 goals scored and just two conceded. That will do nicely. 

And then there’s the subs. The Akinola, Tshimanga, Uchegbulam triumvirate has worked a treat in the last couple of games, totally bamboozling the opposition with pace, flair and trickery amongst tired legs. The second goal for the London Bus theory affirming Bailey Clements will sadly hold no statistical crediting for Akinola, or indeed referee Russell. Both should get honorary assists. Mandy was mullered on the halfway, but play-on due to a slender advantage. The Galloping Gooner then tore down the right, somehow eluded the many members of the Moors team that tracked him or stood in his way, fed the Albanian Arrow, his shot was blocked to enable cool as ice Bailey to show some fancy fast feet and roof it home. Fantastic.

A double five, that’s five Big W’s on the bounce and five Big W’s on the bounce at The Technique as well, what a turnaround after the week of woe at the start of October and a great position to be in ahead of next week’s trip to AFC Wimbledon’s shiny new home. We never won at Kingsmeadow and we never won at the old Wimbledon’s Plough Lane home (the new ground is also on Plough Lane, but not the same grass), so we need a bit of history next week. 

If Town do win and reach the 3rd Round for the second consecutive season, it will mark the first time in 53 years we’ve managed that, but back in the olden days, we started in Round One, not the Qualifiers (Round Three starts in our Division Two days). 

That means reaching R3 constitutes, as we are now, three successful rounds. Getting through three rounds two seasons on the trot is pretty rare, in fact it’s only happened once in the club’s history, in 1919-20 and again in 1920-21 when Midland League Chesterfield Town started in the Preliminary Round ahead of the first qualifying round! 

However, and we’re used to this gubbins of late, after seeing off Clay Cross Town, Ilkeston Town and South Normanton Colliery in 1919-20, playing an ineligible player led to us being booted out of the competition! That means a win over The Dons will (player eligibility apart) mean it’ll be the first time EVER the club has played in four rounds of the FA Cup in consecutive seasons. Some target. 

As regular readers will know, my normal post-Saturday match routine is to mull over the game in my mind and write this column on Sunday morning with a cup of tea whilst listening to some soothing music. Nothing different this week, apart from it’s the first time (as the album only came out on Friday) that the soothing music has been provided by our very own Belgian Spireite Jonathan, who has released a finger-picking guitar instrumental album under the guise of Rude Not To, with the album called Why Chesterfield? It features tracks called So Long Saltergate, He’s Super Jack Lester and Crooked Spire After 3am. Spotify and similar have it, give it a listen! 

One post-script, the 16,000 plus that watched Notts’ goalless draw with Yeovil witnessed County’s first blank of the season. That means Chesterfield are the only NL team to have scored in every match this season. 

Phil’s Positive: Town’s level of play out of possession; OUTSTANDING!Plus, no Spireites yellows in a fixture you expect a card or three and the musical backdrop is perfect!

Spireites’ next game is on Saturday 26 November, our first visit to AFC Wimbledon’s new home, in the FA Cup Second Round, kick-off 3pm. 

Chesterfield (4-1-4-1 to start): Fitzsimons; King, Williams, Grimes, Clements; Jones; Mandeville, Oldaker, Whelan (Akinola 66), Dobra(Uchegbulam 81); Quigley (Tshimanga 66). Subs (not used): Maguire, Cooper.

Goals: Quigley 15, Clements 73 (Chesterfield)

Referee: Matthew Russell

Bookings: Kelleher (Solihull)

Attendance: 7,001 (169 from Solihull)

Netcoms IT 1866 Sport Man of the Match: Mike Jones (chosen by Jamie Hewitt)