Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context
Chesterfield 4 Woking 0 National League
After Tuesday night’s evening of ‘what could have been’ against in-form Hartlepool United, Spireites enjoyed an afternoon of ‘what on Earth happened there?’ Ironically, Woking connections will be thinking exactly the same thing!
Cards 11 Spireites 1 was the corner count, keeper Kyle Letheren showed exactly what he can do with a Man of the Match performance (in a 4-0 win) whilst no-one learned anything about his opposite number Craig Ross, who had no chance with any of the goals and nothing much else to do between Tom Denton’s fourth minute opener and Luke Rawson’s first ever senior goal 80 minutes later at the start of Chesterfield’s own (in a good way this time) ‘mad five minutes’. (Technically six, but who’s counting).
What does that say? To me it screams that the Spireites defence was magnificent. With Jamie Sharman in, the back three of him, skipper Will Evans and our longest serving player Laurence Maguire were all at the top of their game, individually and more important, collectively, whilst behind them Letheren made several top drawer saves and one ‘worldy’ from a Kane Ferdinand flick.
During the match, I occasionally felt right wing back Jordan Cropper was pushing forward a little too much, but he came off the park with two assists, a long throw for the first and a super cross for Alex Kiwomya’s goal, so no harm done.
David Buchanan on the left plus the central midfield worked extremely hard throughout to quell the many raids by (at 3pm) the 100% visitors whilst big Tom was omnipresent as the Cards’ corner count climbed.
Then there was the work of the manager. With Woking set to go broke for the final ten minutes, they lined up striker Connor Hall to come on for defender Nathan Collier, so John Pemberton immediately reacted to bring on Liam Mandeville to offer a counter-attacking outlet for holding midfielder Milan Butterfield and to feature in what, by then, was a line-up featuring four at the back to stifle Woking’s wide men.
Four minutes after the change, with the visitors continuing to push forwards relentlessly, Mandeville picked up the ball in his own half, drove on and earned a free-kick to the left of the box which eventually reached Rawson, who hammered it home from close range to register his first senior goal for the team he and his family supports. That was a truly magic moment.
Rather than the game fizzling out and ending 2-0, that late strike served to fire up Chesterfield and Kiwomya, who’d run himself into the ground and could hardly move by then, showed great instinct to score from close in before the pick of the goals when Rawson showed great patience and skill to double his personal tally and give a final scoreline that anyone there or watching the match back home would find hard to reconcile. But who in blue cares?
The day started well with news of the signings of Kiwomya and left-sider Tyler Denton, who had a solid 20-odd minutes off the bench, and (in footballing terms) it ended with a rapid-fire final few minutes, that substantially lifted Spireite spirits ahead of the next match in this rapid-fire season, the long trip to the English Riviera.
As every football person says, keep a clean sheet and you have a chance. This was the best clean sheet Chesterfield have kept for a long, long time.
Phil’s Positive: Collective defending; from keeper to strikers, the team as a whole put in a real shift to keep an effervescent Woking out and enable the late rewards to be picked off.
Spireites next game is on Tuesday, October 13 at Torquay United, kick-off 7.45pm.
Team v Woking (3-5-2 to start): Letheran; Sharman, Evans, Maguire (Mandeville 81); Cropper, Butterfield (Tyler Denton 64), Weston, Smith, Buchanan; Kiwomya; Tom Denton (Rawson 69)
Subs (not used): Wharton, McKay
Goals: Chesterfield – Tom Denton 4, Rawson 84, 90, Kiwomya 87
Ref: Matt Dicicco
Yellows: Block, Ferdinand, Cook (Woking)