Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context
Chesterfield 0 Wealdstone 0 National League
It’s another point to get us nearer our target. To be honest, I’ve slept on that thought and, in reality, the not so big D still feels like a Lamentable, Low-down L.
No team has the right to win any game in any sporting environment, but Wealdstone’s stats in recent times meant that few people would have expected anything other than a straight forward home win.
The Stones had lost eight on the trot (F3 A30), picked up just three points from the last 45 available on the road (though two were at Torquay United and Bromley) and they’d not kept a clean sheet in 17 games.
The Spireites came out of the traps at a pace, and it was a case of when, not if, a goal would go in. Adi Yussuf’s overhead kick onto the bar and the effort ruled out by the officials for hand ball seemed to back up that theory.
From my position in The Van Yard (West) Stand, any offence was obscured from view. When I spoke afterwards to people watching from the Karen Child (East) Stand and who’d seen replays, they indicated they hadn’t seen anything untoward.
That said, most pundits would have predicted a win by more than one goal for Chesterfield anyway.
Once that early siege had come to an end, the game was much more even and, in the latter stages when the hosts were pushing on a little more,
The Stones had several solid counterattacks, three of which had to be skilfully thwarted by my Man of the Match, James Montgomery. Such nervy moments were never on any Spireites’ agenda.
Not having Gavin Gunning or Curtis Weston in the line-up wasn’t, for me, the reason for falling short. Chesterfield had enough quality in the team to have won it, but too many of the players didn’t find enough quality often enough throughout the frustrating afternoon.
Misplaced passes were a constant issue all across the park whilst decision making in the heat of the battle was, sadly, under-par.
Clearly injuries have hampered progress, no-one can argue against that, and James Rowe linked that to having to select new combinations which haven’t had time to gel. For example, Josef Yarney and Will Evans haven’t started together since Solihull Moors away, in January. Jak McCourt and Manny Oyeleke started together for only the second time, as did Yussuf and Danny Rowe, whilst Joel Taylor and Alex Whittle’s fitness levels meant that Liam Mandeville was asked to operate in an unfamiliar wing-back role. That said, most of us still expected a relatively stress-free afternoon.
Two to go and the top four are all mathematically in the play-offs. That leaves three spots to be fought over by, realistically, six teams. Wrexham & Notts County, who play their game in hand on us against each other on Tuesday whilst Eastleigh, four points behind us with an inferior goal difference but two games in hand, travel to Aldershot Town on Tuesday. Bromley and FC Halifax Town complete the sextet, whilst there remains a mathematical chance that Saturday’s opponents in front of 3000 fans, Dagenham & Redbridge, as well as Solihull Moors & Maidenhead United, could make it, but the likelihood of any of those three teams extending their season is minimal.
What is does mean is that the Daggers will have to win at The Technique next weekend to maintain any slim interest in the play-offs, so you’d expect them to come out to attack, something that hopefully will lead to opportunities for Chesterfield to exploit.
It feels like a must-win match, and every one of the supporters in there will surely think the same, but whatever the result, it will be the first proper game of football at home this season, with the lifeblood of the game present at long last, Bring it on. Our only other game in front of supporters this season, Sutton United away, was won!
Phil’s Positive: Will Evans’ return to the starting line-up and his solid performance bodes well for the rest of the season, however long that may be.
The Spireites’ next game is on Saturday, May 22 at home to Dagenham & Redbridge in the National League, kick-off 3pm, in front of 3,000 fans!
Team v Wealdstone (3-5-2 to start): Montgomery; Yarney,Evans, Maguire; Carline, McCourt (Whelan 59), Oyeleke, Clarke, Mandeville (Mitchell 80); Yussuf (Dinanga 46),Rowe.
Subs (not used): Whittle, M.Smith
Ref: Robert Massey-Ellis
Yellows: Maguire, Clarke, Oyeleke, Yussuf (Chesterfield), Shelvey, Lo-Everton, Gondoh.