Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context
Boreham Wood 0 Chesterfield 0 National League
It’s been a long time since we’ve had a travelling goa-less draw to analyse! This was the Spireites’ first National League draw away from home this season and the truncated 2019/20 season didn’t feature any 0-0s home or away. That means we have to go back to April 2019 and Dover Athletic for the last goalless road game, the match that came a week after the crucial win at Havant & Waterlooville and earned the point that banished any mathematical doubts about relegation.
There have been so many changes on and off the park since then, but it’s strangely reassuring that the only three Spireites players that appeared in that match at The Crabble and also in the game at Meadow Park; Will Evans, Haydn Hollis & Laurence Maguire!
The fifth clean sheet in eight National League games under James Rowe speaks volumes for the progress made this season. Boreham Wood have only conceded four at home all season and you could see why. Defensively, they were very solid and well organised, keeping Akwasi Asante and his colleagues relatively quiet.
That said, the best spells in the game belonged to the visitors. Before the unfortunate Joe Rowley popped a hamstring, the Spireites were in charge. Wood manager Luke Garrard admitted he got keeper Nathan Ashmore to feign injury so he could have a touchline team talk as his side struggled to gain any sort of foothold on a tricky pitch and a biting wind. Chesterfield lost a little momentum after that, but regained the upper hand after the break, with the hosts only really getting to anywhere near top gear in the final 20 minutes.
Junior Morias, a man who’s played against Rangers and Celtic this season for his previous club, St Mirren, did beat the Chesterfield defence on 72, only for an offside flag to curtail his celebrations. That close call apart, there was precious little for Adam Przybek to do, ensuring his bright yellow kit, making its debut this season, remained fairly clean. In fairness, pink clad Ashmore was also fairly quiet at the other end as defences dominated.
Losing Rowley before the game was half an hour old was a big blow. Playing just off Akwasi Asante, he was making his selection count, looking sharp and willing to run with the ball and the fluency in attack was not fully recreated after he limped off and left the ground on crutches. His manager spoke positively about his value to the team, but he’s got several weeks of rehab to undergo before he’ll be in contention again.
Rowe brought on Gavin Gunning for the final 20 minutes, playing as a holding midfielder, meaning Curtis Weston pushed into the No.10 role. The Irishman showed plenty of toughness as well as a deft touch from set-plays, delivering a couple of really inviting balls into the box. He may have to repeat that show at Dagenham & Redbridge at the weekend as, by my reckoning, Jak McCourt picked up his 5th yellow, but clearly official confirmation is needed.
Whilst the match won’t remain in many memories for many minutes, the type of performance will. A gritty, controlled show that confirms that the new-look Chesterfield can not only play pretty, but also tough it out with the best of them in an extremely competitive National League.
It’ll only be short-lived, as Notts County host Solihull Moors on Wednesday evening, but the tale of the table at the end of the game showed Chesterfield are just two points off the play-off zone having picked up 17 points from the last eight games. That’s progress.
Phil’s Positive: Going to a team above Chesterfield in the table and earning a solid away point with few nervy moments.
The Spireites’ next game is on Saturday, January 30 at Dagenham & Redbridge in the National League, kick-off 3pm.
Team v Wrexham (3-5-1-1 to start): Przybek; Evans, Hollis, Maguire; Carline, McCourt, Weston, Whelan (Gunning 69), Whittle; Rowley (Mandeville 28); Asante.
Subs (not used): Yarney, Dinanga, M.Smith
Ref: Sunny Gill
Yellows: McCourt, Whelan (Chesterfield)