Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context  

Chesterfield 4 AFC Fylde 1 National League Game #37

Of late, AFC haven’t failed much, just two losses in their previous dozen games as they’ve powered away from the trapdoor, and whilst the Spireites didn’t coast away from the Coasters, the tide rarely turned in favour of the team managed by a man from Blackpool, Beech, with the three points earned for Chesterfield enabling them to continue to tower above the rest. 

PC’s lads now have 88 points on the board. Not quite BINGO, but looks like TWO singers are prepping up! After the match, me and Sylvia nipped to the WW (Winding Wheel, not consecutive wins, but hopefully it will be on Tuesday), not only to watch the Ukrainian State Opera belt out Bizet’s brilliant Carmen, but also to see if we could spot appropriate candidates for our coronation!

(Note for pessimists; this sequence would guarantee all – WLLDLLWLD – in short, win at home against two teams in the bottom four and draw the other two homes against teams currently outside that zone but still in the battle). And that assumes Barnet and Bromley 100% it for their last nine; ain’t gonna happen. We’d all have taken that at the start of the season, as well as feeling that ‘surely it can’t be this straightforward.’ Dorking happens, 4-1 bounce backs are carved out by champions. 

Quick out the blocks, Fylde quick on the break, a good recipe for a good game, but Chesterfield’s decisions, whilst not always bob-on, were pretty good. Whilst we all bellowed at Mandeville to spray the ball wide to Naylor, he spotted a brilliant run down the middle by Armando and played a pass of the season contender for Dobra to open the scoring. As delicious as the chocolate sponge and custard I’d had for my pud. 

Tom Naylor has been a revelation this season. Top ball winner, fine passer, surprise double figure scorer. All fantastic traits that have encompassed Chesterfield’s season. A good honest pro, as many have been called over the years. But is he a thief at worst, or a glutton at best? If he tries to steal Mike Jones’ box-edge goal (dubious goals panel, stand down, we don’t want you) which would be the 36-year-old’s first since October 2020, it would be rude, gluttonous and other greed based adjectives. Don’t panic, leave it with Jonesy and club historian Stuart Basson can put a footnote in the record books! Surprised Will’s not put in a claim, he was in the box, near enough for him!

Grigg only had to wait two more minutes for a no doubt who’s goal it is moment, another Mandeville peach, another two-yarder off the maestro’s chest. Goals like that may look simple, but tell me another Spireites poacher who is a six-yard box specialist and gets in the right place so many times. It’s an art, opposition defences must time and again think he’s as magnificent as the dogs painted by Jackson Pollock (he really did paint some dogs, just google ‘dogs Pollock’s paintings’ if you don’t believe me). 

Pen. It was hands, but the distance from shot to hand was minimal. Harsh. Normal spot-kick man and Fylde’s best player Nick Haughton had been subbed-off, so a player more than half Jonesy’s age stepped up, just a few minutes having come on, and Danny Ormerod saw a phenomenal double save by HT#1 which led to an explosive noise around the SMH.

But the youngster was soon on the scoresheet, a goal rapidly negated by another one for the dubious panel, no doubt Ash Palmer’s fancy footwork earned the credit, but the question was all about ‘over the line or not?’ From our vantage point, me and Jamie Hewitt were both certain it was over, but others were less sure, but (go on then) let’s credit the ref for his fine positioning and correct decision making to award it. 

No real scares all afternoon and, unlike Dorking, no scars either. Plenty of fine individual performances, but more importantly, a top team performance. Jones had plenty of Man of the Match challengers, which is always a good thing, and an unsurprising thing in this record breaking season, where similar team shows have been abundant. 

This was win #28 of the season. New record. Home game #28 (all comps) without defeat. Extended club record. Average home attendance to date of 7,688, which will certainly lead to a new 1866 Sheffield Road seasonal record, all on the anniversary of a 1-0 win over Wrexham in 1997 that took us to great heights in that season. 

Bring on Oxford City, bottom of the league, no wins in eight, two wins in 18 (13 of them lost), a divisional high 47 concessions on the road. Home banker. But Dorking was an away banker, so top of the game please lads to reduce the target to a final five. Barnet v Eastleigh and Wealdstone v Bromley also on Tuesday, whilst after we’ve finished at Oldham on Saturday lunch, the key fixtures at 3pm are Bromley v Kidderminster and Woking v Barnet. Get your tickets for Halifax (whoops, £21, correct change!)

Phil’s Positive: Solid performance, not totally smooth sailing, but back at a more than acceptable level. Lots of Man of the Match contenders, good predatory work in front of goal and vital dominance of midfield. Comfortable if not quite a classic. 

Next Match: Tuesday, March 12, bottom club Oxford City make their first ever trip to Chesterfield. 1866 Sport will be on air from 7pm for a 7.45pm kick-off.

Chesterfield (4-2-3-1 to start): Tyrer; Sheckleford, Palmer, Grimes, Horton; Naylor, Jones; Mandeville (Colclough 71), Banks (Jacobs 71), Dobra (Berry 78); Grigg. Subs (not used): Quigley, Williams.

Goals: Dobra 28, Jones 55, Grigg 57, Palmer 71 (Chesterfield), Ormerod 68 (Fylde)

Referee: Michael Crusham

Bookings: Palmer, Mandeville (Chesterfield), Barrett, Adshead, Utsabasi (Fylde)

Attendance:  7,782 (101 from Fylde) 

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