Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context
Chesterfield 6 Barnet 0 National League
My opening question to James Rowe after the game in my BBC Radio Sheffield interview was along the lines of ‘How good is it to have defenders that defend, midfielders that create and strikers that score?’
His answer was to say, ‘There are two ways to play, dominate the ball or dominate the space but when you’ve got a variety like that in your game, in the personnel we’ve got in the team, we can play all sorts of ways and we showed that by scoring all sorts of goals.’ Not your average answer to that sort of question from someone who’s clearly not your average sort of football manager!
It’s been a more than decent week in these parts. Two more new players, a win away at a high-flyer, a clinical performance (second half in particular) in the home match, a fund-raising target smashed in only slightly longer time than it takes Akwasi Asante to score a hat-trick and toys galore in Chester’s Den. If Carlsberg did weeks ………. Taking a look through social media whilst Sylvia watched Strictly was something pleasurable and not something I’ve tended to do on a Saturday night in recent years!
Inevitably I was also doing a bit of statto-ing. Not a tricky one for the last six-shooting Spireites side, the 7-1 win over Shrewsbury Town in January 2016, Danny Wilson’s early days, a win that saw Jay O’Shea and hat-trick hero Lee Novak both score from the spot. That got me thinking when was the last time we saw six goals with no pens?
Paul Cook oversaw two – at Braintree and at home to Hartlepool – but they were both FA Cup games, so I looked for points-bearing games and had to keep rolling back the years. 2008 at Exeter in a 6-1 win, before that the phenomenal 6-2 win at Carlisle United in 1980. To find the last time we had six non-pen goals at home, you have to go back 41 years and one month to the come from behind 7-1 win over Reading when we had six goals from Spireites and a Lawrie Sanchez own goal. We also saw Chesterfield score five in the second half that day to answer another question!
All that data demonstration shows is that what we witnessed against Barnet was something special, something very rare and something that is beginning to put some pride back into the hearts of the thousands of frustrated, success starved Spireites, yearning to return to the style of football and success witnessed in the new stadium’s first five years rather than the most recent five. We can all look at the table and say we’re only four points off the play-offs but nine from the trapdoor. Happy days.
As for the match, we can forget the Asante and Scott Boden frustrating near misses ahead of the opener, a defence splitter from Jak McCourt to notch the hat-trick hero’s opener. McCourt and Joe Taylor parts in Boden’s goal were both first class whilst poacher supreme Haydn Hollis continued his own personal renaissance to all but wrap up the points. But the game was far from finished. Tom Whelan’s pinpoint pass for Asante’s second was another midfield masterclass.
However, for me, with the game won, the most impressive goals were the fifth and sixth, both of which included lung-busting runs from Asante and McCourt. The hat-trick goal was a great example of chasing a lost cause, there was no way Asante could keep that ball in, having kept it in, there was no way he could control it, having controlled it, there was no way he could score. Fantastic.
McCourt’s finish was, in truth, nothing special, indeed it was as scrappy as scrappy can be, with ‘bundled’ being the only descriptor fit for the finish! But to bundle the ball in, he’d sprinted half the length of the pitch, in the 89th minute at 5-0. Not many players would have done that.
Just how good is it to have defenders that defend, midfielders that create and strikers that score? No fancy analytical words from me, just, ‘it’s VERY, VERY good!’
Phil’s Positive: P4 W3 D1 L0 F9 A 1 PTS 10 – need I say more?
The Spireites’ next game is on Saturday, December 19 at home in the FA Trophy against either Brackley or Royston, who play on Tuesday evening
Team v Barnet (3-5-2 to start): Letheren; Yarney, Hollis, Maguire; Carline (Cropper 64), McCourt, Weston, Whelan, Taylor; Asante (Mandeville 80), Boden (Tom Denton 60).
Subs (not used): Smith, Tyler Denton
Goals: Asante 39, 74,78, Boden 56, Hollis 64
Ref: Lewis Smith
Yellow: Taylor (Barnet)