Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context
Chesterfield 3 Yeovil Town 0 National League
There are few Spireites who are happy to see Akwasi Asante being subbed, but Jak McCourt is one of them! Ten goals in 14 NL appearances have made Asante an instant hero. His goal in the Kop end against five wins in six Yeovil Town put the Spireites on their way to another memorable victory, and made him only the second player, after ‘Sir Jack’, to bag in that end in four consecutive games (thanks to club historian Stuart Basson for that fact).
Asante, teed up by a superb through ball by ex-Yeovil man Tom Whelan, then returned the favour, passing short for Whelan to put clear daylight between the teams. A few minutes later, the man whose contract was extended in the week was replaced by Nathan Tyson, much to McCourt’s delight. Why? Because he’d been the only Chesterfield player to score a NL goal when Asante wasn’t on the park since the striker arrived from Gloucester City. That was at the end of the Barnet drubbing after Asante’s hat-trick, so when sub Joel Taylor lost the ball only for Whelan to win it back and set Taylor off on a superb dart into the box and pinpoint cross, enabling Jak to round off a stunning second half show, he reinforced his position of scorer in chief in Akwasi’s absence!
Indeed, for me, that third goal epitomised the team under James Rowe. Two up, opponents’ spirit broken, total control, only for an error that lead to possession loss. But the spirit and speed of the team saw an immediate turnover, great lay-off and a superb piece of work from the player who’d moments before erred, and a defensive midfielder bursting into the box to score and clearly display what it meant to him and the team. How good was that to watch?
As against Eastleigh four days earlier, the opponents started on the front foot, but Yeovil Town, who’d never lost a points-offering game on our grass, looked to have a little more attacking threat than the Spitfires. It took a quarter of an hour or so for the hosts to get into shape and subsequently, the two best chances of the first half saw ex-Spireites loanee keeper Adam Smith do enough to deny McCourt and Asante. After the break though, it was very different, as Chesterfield again stepped up and put in a masterclass, with Yeovil always looking capable, though their first effort on target of note only arrived five minutes before Whelan’s goal.
The visitors only managed one more on-target effort, meaning that in the two home games in the week, against two top-form, play-off chasers, Grant Smith only had to deal with two direct shots. That said, the way he has gone about his business makes it look like Rowe has unearthed another gem.
One of the reasons that Yeovil hardly got a look-in was the defence, again led supremely by Gavin Gunning. To his right, Fraser Kerr, again solid and to his left, Laurence Maguire, who now looks to have grown into an extremely accomplished ball carrying centre-half. The trio hardly put a foot wrong against the usually lethal three-pronged attack of Reed, Murphy & Skendi.
Both wide midfielders also put a shift in, adding plentiful supply to the forwards and also preventing the visitors, whose 4-3-3 meant they needed their full-backs to push on, getting down our flanks.
All in all, another solid team performance and another home win, that’s six on the bounce in league games, the first time since John Sheridan’s first spell in charge in 2009 and with 30 points earned from the gaffer’s first 14 games, at long last, Chesterfield fans are smiling and proud.
My only disappointment during the afternoon was that Liam Mandeville didn’t score. I’d pre-rehearsed my line about the only gloved outfield player scoring against the Glovers!
Phil’s Positive: Chesterfield have now won more home games this season than leaders Torquay United and sit in the top ten of the NL for the first time apart from August 2018 after just five games of the season!
The Spireites’ next game is on Saturday, March 13 at Maidenhead in the National League, kick-off 3pm.
Team v Yeovil (3-4-2-1 to start): G.Smith; Kerr, Gunning, Maguire; Carline, McCourt, Weston, Whittle (Taylor 70); Mandeville (Clarke 81), Whelan; Asante (Tyson 75).
Subs (not used): Evans, M.Smith
Goals: Asante 48, Whelan 68, McCourt 78
Ref: Matt Dicicco
Yellows: Carline, Whittle, Weston (Chesterfield), Kelly, J.Smith (Yeovil)