Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context
Aldershot Town 0 Chesterfield 1 National League
The last time the Spireites won back-to-back away league games in a four-day period was in the memorable 2014/15 play-off season. Whilst the team has won consecutive away games in the National League, they were a week apart (AFC Fylde and Wrexham), but the wins at Bradford City (1-0) and Yeovil Town (3-2) on Tuesday, March 31, followed by a Good Friday afternoon fixture, marks the last six away points in rapid succession.
Such doubles are few and far between, indeed the last four-day, six points incorporating two clean sheets was in the title winning 2010/11 season, 2-0 at Lincoln City and another 1-0 win at Bradford City. Results of this nature only happen to good teams.
To be honest, few supporters will wax lyrical about this match for too long, but those of us who’ve been around a bit will see a few traits that John Duncan would have been proud of. Nick a goal and stop them scoring!
Whilst Josh Rees forced a couple of saves just before the break and Laurence Maguire had to block a Mo Bettamer effort on the line midway through the second half, rarely was the back line, marshalled impeccably by Haydn Hollis, particularly threatened. Martin Smith and Curtis Weston, in front, broke things up countless times, helping the team to prevent the Shots from scoring for only the second time in ten home NL games. Duncs would’ve been very happy with the showing. He loved a 1-0 away win!
The two starting XIs featured seven different NL scorers for Aldershot, with 31 goals between them, compared to 13 from three players for Spireites, and it was one of the non-scorers who clinched it. George Carline set off Jack Clarke, whose run behind the line was excellent and his cross saw Mitch Walker, returning after a positive Covid test, only paw it away, but enough to take it off Alex Whittle’s stronger left foot.
The left wing-back, no doubt thinking of his right-footed wide of the mark effort early on at Barnet, seemed to take an age to bring the ball onto his favoured peg, but it was worth it, there was no stopping the left-footed shot to mark his first goal for the club. Clarke’s second assist in the two away games again helped to positively mark his progress, but he seemed to be feeling his hamstring when subbed after a foul and a yellow card.
The three points mean Chesterfield haven’t lost in their last ten games against the Shots, former employers of James Rowe, and it means his current club are now just two points off seventh-placed Bromley, with two games in hand. It also means that Rowe’s points average has returned to the magical two per game over his 18-game NL tenure. Only Sutton United have a return that beats that average.
Neither the Barnet win, nor the victory at Aldershot, will race into any supporter’s all-time top-ten performances, but win at home to Weymouth on Saturday, and the week as a whole will be remembered for a long time and Spireites fans will, at last, begin to feel that the team is genuinely back in business.
Phil’s Positive: Hollis, back on top of his game, ensuring two long distance travelling clean sheets and six points in four days. The top seven now in touching distance
The Spireites’ next game is on Saturday, March 27 at home to Weymouth in the National League, kick-off 3pm.
Team v Aldershot (3-5-2 to start): G Smith; Kerr, Hollis, Maguire; Carline, Weston, M Smith, Clarke (Whelan 56), Whittle; Yussuf (Dinanga 71), Asante (Mandeville 88).
Subs (not used): Yarney, Tyson
Goal: Whittle 27
Ref: James Durkin
Yellows: Weston, Asante, Clarke (Chesterfield), Ogie, Bettamer (Barnet)