Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context  

Chesterfield 4 Aldershot Town 1 National League Game #23

Whoa, we’re halfway there, whoaoh, livin‘ on a prayer, take my hand and we’ll make it, I swear, whoaoh, livin‘ on a prayer!

What a first half of the season and a second half of the Aldershot Town match. A tally of 59 points and 58 goals from 23 matches. If you’d have suggested that in the summer, you’d have been ridiculed as a rose-tinted-specs-happy-clapping-don’t-belong-to-reality sort of supporter.

Three more 46 mins plus goals at the SMH, that’s 85% of the team’s home NL goals scored in the second half. 1-1 at the break? Doddle. Fit in body, fit in mind, fit for purpose.

It was unlucky 13 for the Shots, who now haven’t beaten the Spireites in 17 attempts. DJ Oldaker’s equaliser wasn’t just the 500th Chesterfield goal in a league format game since the club moved to Whitt Moor in 2010, it wasn’t just the goal that meant that, for the first time in history, Chesterfield had scored in every one of their first 23 league fixtures, and it wasn’t just the goal that broke a run of 17 consecutive home goals scored in the second half of NL games, but it was a goal that was scored by the 13th different Town player in the NL this season to put the team back on course for a 13th consecutive home win in all competitions. And it was a cracker.

Just six on the clock, Chesterfield already 1-0 down, Dobra darts down the middle, foul, free-kick, goal. The work of the best two players on the park on the day and Darren told me after that, in the changing room before the match, he’d told Dobs to win a free-kick and that he’d score from it. Never in doubt.

Aldershot could play. Attack was excellent, defence decent unless Dobra was on the ball, then the defence panicked. They blocked a few, they were never afraid to foul to prevent danger from building too much and they got the ball forwards quickly, but (apart from an odd nervy moment) Chesterfield’s defence stood firm. The selection of Shecks and Frecks at full-back was all about having defenders in the back-four to combat the known threats of a side that have beaten two EFL teams in the FA Cup and started the game in the play-off zone.

Any Freckleton doubters, his starting record this season has seen results of WWWWWDWWW. Sheckleford’s starts: WWWDWWWW. That’s some show from the full-backs. They’ve only both started together twice, this game plus the 2-0 win at Woking.

Basketball first half, then Paul Cook, the man responsible for our-guile (the only sort of guile he’ll be in charge of), said his bit at the break and basketball was off the menu, and attack v defence commenced. Chesterfield had the army town on the run, under fire and all but surrendering as Coco Colclough grabbed a cracking second and the reinforcements off the bench, B Company (Banks and Berry) outflanked Shots to set up the fire-man to stab home goal #12 of the season.

Deserving Dobra finished it off right at the end ahead of a last gasp tea-time goal from Altrincham ensuring Spireites await Santa with a ten-point lead with two games in hand. That’s 19 points earned having been behind this season. What a Christmas gift.

Another bumper crowd, home attendances are 10% up on last season, which in itself was the highest average home crowd of the century; as I’ve said before, bottle up all this stuff, it’s a very special brew. If Carlsberg did half-seasons!

Boxing Day seems an appropriate date for a game with Solihull Moors. Six visits to Damson Park, just one win, but that was avenged later in the same season when the West Midlanders triumphed in the play-offs. Now managed by ex-Spireites loanee Andy Whing, they were the section’s last unbeaten side, having avoided defeat in games one to 14, but six defeats in the last ten games has seen them slip to fourth, but they halted a run of four straight defeats at the weekend with a late-winner in a come from behind 2-1 at struggling Oxford City.

But with players like Matty Warburton (ex-Halifax play-maker), Josh Kelly (ripped us apart for Maidenhead) and big Mark Beck, who won promotion to the EFL with Harrogate Town, as well as (I can’t be certain this is totally true) qualified ref Jamey Osborne, problems are caused naturally by the side from next to the airport and the Land Rover factory.

There’ll be a sizeable away contingent at Damson Park, plenty more wanted to go, but they’ll back PC’s boys to the hilt as the team searches for a tenth away win of the season. As a comparison, Moors have won just four at home.

For now though, as you’re munching on your Turkey and pretending you’re really enjoying those sprouts, just be honest and admit that at Wham time (Last Christmas) you never quite thought that 12 months on, Town would have Slayed the opposition 19 times in 23 attempts, PC’s team would be full of Wizzards, you’d be driving home for Christmas after consecutive home win #13 and we’d all be walking on air, metaphorically dancing in the midnight sky. We’d all be carted off in a Black Mariah singing All I Want for Christmas is Two (wins over Solihull).

Happy Christmas, thanks for reading my ramblings and occasionally saying you enjoy them!

Phil’s Positive: Big reaction, quick reaction after going behind. Superb second half, three more points after being behind, that’s 19 of those to date this season.

Next Match: The day after Santa’s busy shift, Boxing Day, December 26, 2023, at Solihull Moors. Kick-off is at 3pm with 1866 Sport on air from 2pm.

Chesterfield (4-2-3-1 to start): Tyrer; Sheckleford, Palmer, Grimes, Freckleton; Naylor, Oldaker; Jacobs (Banks 70), Dobra, Colclough (Berry 70); Grigg (Quigley 84). Subs (not used): King, Jones.

Goals: Oldaker 6, Colclough 65, Grigg 74, Dobra 90+3 (Chesterfield), Stokes 4 (Aldershot).

Referee: Ruebyn Ricardo

Bookings: Rowe, Mnoga (Aldershot).

Attendance: 8,320 (235 from Aldershot)

Netcoms IT 1866 Sport Man of the Match: Darren Oldaker (chosen by Jamie Hewitt)