Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context
Torquay United 2 Chesterfield 1 National League
Frustration or anger? I asked manager John Pemberton which of those feelings best matched his mood in the light of the Spireites’ 2-1 loss at Plainmoor, with the Gulls’ winner coming 20 seconds before the end of the final four minutes of stoppage time. ‘A bit of both,’ he said, clearly seething, clearly hurt by the manner of the defeat.
It was a very different Pembo to any other post-match Pembo in any of the previous 14 matches he’s been in charge of Chesterfield. He was seething, clearly incredibly disappointed and clearly, he’d said his bit to his players moments before.
The positive for me was that it showed just how much he cares, just about how much he wants to win, not just for himself, but for his players and the absent fans who will have generally been happy with the point that was in the team’s grasp before a Torquay sub delivered for another sub to score.
With regard to the game itself, Torquay will argue that they deserved the win due to the amount of chances they had, with left-winger Ben Whitfield the best player on display and fellow raider Connor Lemonheigh-Evans the second best. To add to the equation, United’s subs worked a treat, they conjured up the winner whilst, unlike in the Woking game, Chesterfield’s fresh legs didn’t manage to change the game in the visitors’ favour.
There was a touch of fortune about both first-half goals, Louis Britton and Tom Denton, who headed against the post at 1-0, both prodding home from close range after keeper interventions fell well for them. Jordan Cropper had cleared one off the line to prevent a United second as a tight encounter began to open up in the final half-hour and a winner looked inevitable, but when it eventually came, most people had probably assumed the final score was going to be 1-1.
In that frenetic finale, both sides gave away the ball too often, but the commitment was clear to see. Tackles were solid, Cropper earned a yellow for bundling Whitfield into the railings and, as legs tired and hearts pumped, spaces all over the park opened up and crosses and shots reigned in, few of them offering the quality needed to convert, but a goal seemed inevitable.
Ironically, it came not from a heroic run and shot, but from a right scrappy right sided corner that no-one dealt with, allowing Asa Hall to score not long after entering the fray to add to United’s last-minute penalty winner three days earlier at Bromley.
Will Evans looked on it, as did Liam Mandeville, who’s run led to the foul that saw his box-edge free-kick saved and fall for Big Tom to make it three in three, but he didn’t last the 90, the gaffer saying he had to come off because he ‘looked like he was running in treacle’. He left nothing on the pitch and justified his start.
I asked the manager afterwards if he felt angry or frustrated and he said ‘both’. Having looked at the Thesaurus for ‘frustrated’, it came up with plenty of synonyms, which I’ll store away in my brain and hope I don’t have to use them too often in the near future; disappointed, disenchanted, disillusioned, unfulfilled, aggrieved, discontented, disgruntled, displeased, dissatisfied, malcontent, disquieted, disturbed, perturbed, upset, dejected, depressed, despairing, despondent, disconsolate, doleful, down, downcast, downhearted, forlorn, hangdog, inconsolable, joyless, low-spirited, miserable, mournful, sad, sorrowful & unhappy. A last-gasp winner from the opponents on a night where a point would have been good unfortunately made me feel all of the above.
Phil’s Positive: Will Evans put in his best performance of the season, but he’ll be disappointed that it didn’t translate into any reward.
Spireites next game is on Saturday, at home to Stockport County, Kick-off 5.20pm
Team v Torquay (3-5-2 to start): Letheran; Sharman, Evans, Maguire; Cropper, Weston, Smith, Mandeville (Butterfield 79), Buchanan; Kiwomya (Rawson 54); Tom Denton (McKay 66)
Subs (not used): Wharton, Hollis
Goals: Chesterfield – Tom Denton 43, Torquay – Britton 9, Hall 90+4
Ref: Scott Jackson
Yellows: Cropper, Maguire (Chesterfield)