Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context  

Scunthorpe United 1 Chesterfield National League Match #22

I glanced through the Football Association’s coaching manual, at the chapter called ‘Game Management’. It said, ‘Engage in tactics that ensure you keep the ball and slow the game down whilst seeking to add to your goal tally’. At the end, it advised would-be coaches to watch the final 20 minutes of Scunthorpe United v Chesterfield on Boxing Day 2022, take careful notes about the away team’s approach, and then ensure your side does the exact opposite!

Solid start, again plenty of pressure and chances (two post hits) didn’t bear fruit, bad mistake, because then two ex-Spireites, Beestin and Lavery, combined to put the hosts and NL bottom placed side in front. United had sent out a couple of minor warnings prior to that, not heeded, all to do again.

Only once this season had Town come back to win after being behind on their travels, on another Bank Holiday Monday, at Altrincham. On that occasion, Tyrone Williams levelled pretty quickly and soon after that, Kabby scored what turned out to be the winner in the 49th minute. Similar scenario, this time Joe Quigley levelled and then hit a 49th minute goal which ultimately turned out to be the winner, to achieve three points in this fixture for the first time in 27 years.

The equaliser was a beautyQuigs in the ‘D,’ back to goal, turn and low shot, whilst for his second, Mandeville and King combined for the latter to cross in and from much closer, the brace was secured. It marked the first two-goals-in-a-match performance from a Spireite since Saidou Khan scored twice in the twice come from behind St George’s Day home win over a Michael Gyasi inspired Dover Athletic. The last Spireite to score two in an away game was Tshimanga in the 4-1 win at Barnet a week after our day out in Chelsea.

The rest of the game was a hard watch, especially after the Gaffer’s comments incensed the referee, yellow card, red card all within five seconds. Dobra may have hit wood to make it three post strikes, but United forced Ross Fitzsimons to make a fine close-range stop and Lavery’s acrobatic shot late on was blocked close to the line by one of his own colleagues.

Whilst Quigley was universally called as Man of the Match, without the keeper plus skipper Grimes and his centre back partner Palmer as well as their minder Mike Jones, things could well have been much different.

Too many loose passes, over and under hit crosses, questionable decisions, but amidst the negatives, there was loads of spirit and three points were banked. Every Spireite will expect three more and an easier ride when the Iron come to our grass on Sunday.

We may well be picky (rightly so) and feel the team could and should have done better, but to put in some perspective, the win was the sixth in the last seven NL games (18 points), compared to Wrexham W5 D2 for 17 points and Notts County W5 D2 also for 17, showing that they are not pulling away, despite it sometimes feeling like they are. The year of 2022 has ended pretty well but January 2023 looks like being pivotal.

Seven scheduled games, including a potential money-maker FA Cup tie at home to the Baggies, with the six NL games being split evenly, three at home, three away. Whitt Moor will welcome Scunthorpe, Notts County and Altrincham, with trips to Wealdstone, Wrexham and Barnet thrown in. Only Scunny aren’t in the top half of the table at this moment, showing how difficult it will be. Wrexham’s game with us is their next home fixture as they seek to extend their Racecourse record of P11 W11 in the League this term, Barnet have won their last five NL games (though success against WBA would mean this game would be rescheduled) and Notts haven’t lost in 16.

Reminds me of March 1985. After a hiccup in February that began to cast some doubt on John Duncan’s side’s promotion credentials, March featured seven games, including back-to-back away trips against our nearest rivals Hereford United and Darlington (plus a home game with Wrexham). Six wins and a draw in the month all but ended the doubts, with the two critical games against the Bulls and the Quakers both won, the most memorable week in my Town supporting career. A repeat would be a perfect start to the New Year.

Phil’s Positive: Maximum points from Glanford Park, the last Spireite to score a league winner there was Phil Robinson in 1995 in a season that ended up with a Wembley play-off final win.

The Spireites’ next game is on Sunday, January 1,  2023, when Scunthorpe United visit us; 1866 Sport will be live at the stadium from 2pm, if you’re watching the stream, sync up the commentary with the pictures.

Chesterfield (4-14-1 to start): Fitzsimons; King, Palmer, Grimes, Horton; Jones; Mandeville, Akinola (Banks 75), Oldaker, Dobra (Uchegbulam 88); Quigley. Subs (not used): Maguire, Tshimanga, Asante.

Goals: Quigley 41,49 (Chesterfield), Lavery 35 (Scunthorpe)

Referee: Scott Simpson

Bookings: Oldaker, Dobra, King (Chesterfield), Shrimpton, Butterfield, Carver (Scunthorpe)

Red Card: Spireites boss was shown a yellow and immediately after, a red, after 67 minutes.

Attendance: 4,156 (1,540 for from Chesterfield)

Netcoms IT 1866 Sport Man of the Match: Joe Quigley (chosen by Josh Marsh)