Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context  

Chesterfield 3 Tamworth 1 Pre-season Friendly #5

Southern League Premier Central Division Tamworth made a bit of history. By my reckoning, they were the first team that weren’t from the Football League, that new-fangled Premier job, the Scottish League or an overseas team to play a friendly at Chesterfield since the 5-0 hammering of the 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters in 1934. Remember it? 

And the Lambs may have been battered by plenty of Spireites shots, but they were far from slaughtered, with keeper Jas Singh making several terrific saves to keep the scoreline respectable, a stunning number to deny Calvin Miller late on being the topmost from the very top drawer! 

The Staffordshire side enjoyed a moment of glory a blink of an eye after the start of the second half when striker Dan Creaney guided home the ball following what coach Danny Webb described as a ‘sloppy free-kick’. 

Wearing the new red away kit, which only arrived in the Club Superstore 48 hours earlier, the few of us lucky enough to have been there reckoned it was the first home game in a non-blue kit since Malaga visited Saltergate in 2005, though kit expert John Taylor will no doubt blast that theory out of the water! 

Against the lime green Lambs, the reds began well when Stefan Payne, having received from the effervescent Jack Clarke, put the ball on a plate for Danny Rowe to guide home from six. Neat goal. 

Half-time arrived and a single goal lead was scant reward for a dominant if far from destructive performance and that lack of exactitude in the final third was immediately punished after the restart. 

Whether it was Southern League or Super League opponents, the next goal was something to behold. From the right-back position to right in the back of the net via Rowe’s boot, the build-up play was beautiful. Clarke and Liam Mandeville provided most of the bells and whistles in the rapid burst from back to front ahead of the striker’s conversion.

I was more than delighted to purr with enthusiasm during the first test commentary for the soon to launch 1866 Sport radio station, providing the four listeners with (hopefully) a more concise description of the goal than that! Let’s hope on launch day, at Aldershot Town, there’s plenty of similar quality on show by the Spireites. 

Rowe, who had a great chance to register a hat-trick, but the ball misbehaved at his feet, provided the supply for the ever-growing catalogue of Mandeville headed goals, and the half-time sub will never score an easier one, thanks to the precision of the delivery.

Keeper Singh gave a goalie masterclass in the final ten to keep the score respectable and whilst the host’s shot-count – Webb said it was 26 in his post-match chat – was high, the conversion rate was lower than you’d ideally want, but as many in the game have said before, you’ve got to be there to miss them! 

One shot that was blocked by one unfortunate Lamb, Aaron Forde, was a blockbuster free kick from Rowe. The 54th minute 25-yard thunderbolt walloped into the legs of wall-brick Forde, immediately flooring him and he was unable to continue, so ex-Stag Jack Thomas had to deputise. I spotted Forde, who had a great game in the engine-room, limping out of the ground more than an hour later. It must have hurt. 

For the next similar free-kick a little later, you could see the defenders all wanting to mark potential ball-headers rather than being another brick in the wall. Those hammers in the video were an early representation of a Danny Rowe piledriver (over 50s only reference!)

With the EFL starting this weekend, it wasn’t possible to arrange the type of friendly that would have been ideal, but credit to Tamworth, they provided James Rowe’s men with a genuine test and 90 more minutes of fuel storage. It enabled the gaffer to take a look at one new triallist (left centre-back) and two returnees ahead of next week’s final build-up game against the Mariners before we start for real at Aldershot. Can’t wait. 

Phil’s Positive: The quality of the second goal. A rapid attack featuring some great movement on & off the ball and perfect passing; a thing of beauty! 

The Spireites’ next game is on Saturday August 14, at home to Grimsby Town, with an early 1pm kick-off.

Team v Tamworth (3-5-2 to start): Loach (Triallist 46); Kerr (Rowley 72), Gunning (Khan 84), Triallist; Carline (Mandeville 46), Khan (Triallist 66), Oyeleke (Weston 66), Clarke, Miller; Rowe (Tyson 84), Payne (McCourt 66). 

Goals: Rowe 10, 63, Mandeville 79 (Chesterfield), Creaney 46 (Tamworth)

Ref: Reece Davies