Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context
Chesterfield 1 Bromley 2 National League
We should have known; they should scrap the Manager of the Month award with immediate effect, no good ever comes of it! As weeks go, this hasn’t been a good one if you’re a Spireite.
Whilst the Boreham Wood game style and result were not entirely unexpected, the Bromley result and subsequent announcement that Akwasi Asante won’t be fit again until it’s just about 2022, made this week a real stinker.Hopefully Akwasi, as well as Haydn Hollis and Tom Denton, will all bounce back stronger than ever.
What we all want now is to maximise the benefit of one of our games in hand, by seeing off the Shaymen on Tuesday night, when a win would see Spireites back in fifth spot, ahead of the key trip to Wales on Saturday. A big few days ahead of us, and we really need one of those James Rowe ‘Big Ws’ before that Wrexham game.
The Bromley game started reasonably well, with a chance scooped off the line almost putting the hosts ahead, whilst Fraser Kerr headed onto the post, and other efforts made it look like scoring was much more likely than in the game four days earlier, despite Asante’s absence.
However, the first misplaced ping forward from the back was knocked forward by Billy Bingham for the section’s leading scorer, Michael Cheek, in space more familiar to Buzz Aldrin, to put Bromley ahead.
Jack Clarke forced a save after 24 minutes and, despite seeing plenty of the ball for the next half-hour or so, keeper Mark Cousins wasn’t called into meaningful action again until the 71st minute, when he made a terrific save to keep out Kerr’s header.
Moments later, Laurence Maguire’s right-footed shot levelled things up for his first goal in over two years, and at that stage, Chesterfield looked the most likely winners.
Whilst Cousins had a quiet spell, Grant Smith could have nipped to Tesco’s for much of the match as, between scoring and conceding, the Ravens’ attacking ambitions were somewhat limited.
But, despite being absent from Chesterfield’s penalty area for periods of time often referred to as dynasties, in the final ten minutes, even with Cheek subbed after a knock, they perked up.
New manager Andy Woodman had led them to two draws followed by back-to-back wins in his first four games in charge, predictable new-manager-itis there, and their rekindled enthusiasm caught Chesterfield out when the man who’d cleared off the line early on, right-back Joe Kizzi, found himself on the edge of the six and he had the strength and desire to get his head on the ball to restore the visitors’ lead.
It’s always disappointing to lose, and it’s particularly galling when referees get a mention in post-match press conferences. Rowe, who’d seen replays before he spoke, was livid that when George Carline was bundled over in the box in the first half and challenged somewhat brutally in the second, no penalty action was taken.
I suspect that ire was compounded by the fact that his side, who’d rarely been under pressure, conceded a couple of goals that highlighted some defensive frailties, not something that’s been a major concern of late.
With Hollis absent long-term, and fellow powerhouse Gavin Gunning having to nurse his hamstring (he should be available for Tuesday), a pack shuffle was necessary and that probably contributed to the opener, and that chasm of space, whilst losing Weston four minutes before the winner also highlighted his importance to protecting Smith’s goal area.
Supporters will also be worried about the sharp end, particularly now the club’s two top scorers are unavailable for the run in. Tom Whelan, with five, is the only currently available player with more than two NL goals for Chesterfield this season.
The team as a whole, since the 3-0 win over Yeovil Town, has scored just eight in nine matches, undoubtedly a concern for the manager, hence his recruitment of Kairo Mitchell.
Debates of one or two up front will abound, with the increase in creating solid chances after Nathan Tyson joined Mitchell on the park undoubtedly being used by the champions of the two, whilst Rowe would argue about the twin-10s meaning there’s a three-pronged attack, not a lone striker. Opinions.
For me, the biggest worry is that, for the first time since Maidenhead, we’re talking about frailties at both ends of the park. Eight games and 16 points followed that defeat, a repeat of that in the next eight games would be a play-off clinching run, so let’s all stay positive!
Phil’s Positive: The last time the Spireites felt as down as this, after losing at Maidenhead and at home to Sutton, the next five games were all won. More of the same would be just what the doctor ordered!
Spireites next game is on Tuesday, April 20, at home to FC Halifax Town in the National League, kick-off 7.45pm.
Team v Bromley (3-4-2-1 to start): G Smith; Yarney, Kerr, Maguire; Carline, Weston (M Smith 80), Oyeleke, Whittle; Mandeville (Whelan 68), Clarke (Tyson 63); Mitchell.
Subs (not used): Taylor, Dinanga
Goals: Maguire 74 (Chesterfield), Cheek 19, Kizzi 84
Ref: Matthew Dicicco
Yellows: Whittle, Weston, Oyeleke, Mandeville