Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context
Chesterfield 1 Solihull Moors 0 National League
WDWWW – James Rowe’s results sequence for his first five league games in charge. Pretty good opening to his tenure. But how good is it? It’s better than John Sheridan’s return (WDWWL) or Paul Cook (LWLLD), indeed it’s better than anyone bar one.
as Jim McGuigan, one of the most respected men ever to be in the Spireites’ hot seat, started his term at the beginning of 1967/68 with a DWWWW. His sixth game ended goalless at Oakwell, so a win at Damson Park on Tuesday and the new gaffer will have six of the best …….Ever!
Any win against Solihull Moors has to be deemed a good one – this was Chesterfield’s first in five attempts, so doing the double against them would represent a major step forward for the team, but Saturday’s signs were extremely promising.
Kyle Letheren was only called upon once in each half to make saves of note, and neither needed to be a worldy, whilst the hosts had several more than decent chances both before and after Tom Whelan’s first goal for the club.
The build-up and goal itself were great examples of persistence, with the midfielder initially being a halfway line backstop at an attacking corner that was cleared to him and he drove forwards, was blocked, won back possession, was again blocked before scoring through a crowd.
In Chesterfield’s time in the National League, the Moors have been the most belligerent of opponent and, as was the case at another peg-in-the-ground win at Sutton United, the team was able to match their pugnacious approach and show just what is needed to prosper in a really tough, uncompromising competition.
Add that to the beauty of the win over Barnet, and all of the bits of ammunition you need to challenge at the top end look to be in place.
With the last ten goals being scored in Spireites matches all being in the ‘Goals For’ column, coupled with a spell now eight hours and 20 minutes long without a concession.
You have to go back to the controversial 2000/01 season to see better sequences than these, and that team was a special one with Pollitt, Breckin, Blatherwick, Payne & Edwards keeping them out and Beckett, Reeves, Dudfield and Parrish knocking them in.
Those ten goals have been scored by six different players, three of them strikers, two midfielders and a defender, showing that the team is capable of goals of many types, be they from open or set play.
With Akwase Asante’s hat-trick goal and Jak McCourt’s against Barnet, plus Whelan’s against Solihull being efforts where the players had to go the extra yard to get on the score sheet, arguably the most pleasing aspect of improvement in the last half a dozen games.
But none of Saturday’s action could have taken place without the largely unseen help of volunteers. For several days ahead of the match, the pitch covers were laid overnight and removed in the daytime by members of the Spireites For Life football team and Community Trust staff & volunteers. They were joined by Wingerworth Junior Sports Association who also helped clear the snow from the lines and goal areas for a fantastic community effort. Thank you all.
That effort enabled Whelan and co to demonstrate how far the team has come in a short time. George Carline was having his best game for Chesterfield before his second yellow means he’ll miss Tuesday trip to his former club, who’ll be without Jamey Osborne, a player that’s always at the forefront of the action, so the manager will have a selection decision to make but, to be fair, he’s done pretty well in that department so far!
Phil’s Positive: Ten points from the relegation zone, four from the play-offs!
The Spireites’ next game is on Tuesday, January 5 at Solihull Moors in the National League, kick-off 7.45pm.
Team v Solihull (3-5-2 to start): Letheren; Evans, Hollis, Maguire; Carline, McCourt (Smith 75), Weston , Whelan(Mandeville 71), Taylor; Tom Denton (Yarney 85), Asante.
Subs (not used): Boden, Rowley
Goal: Whelan 43
Ref: Paul Marsden
Yellows: Evans, McCourt, Carline (Chesterfield), Osborne, Ward, Gleeson (Solihull)
Reds: Carline (second yellow, 82)