Tooley’s Take

Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context  

Chesterfield 2 Bromley 2 National League Match #4

It was hardly a surprise that this game turned on a last-gasp goal. Zavon Hines and Joe Rowley both scored last-minute equalisers against the Ravens in 2018/19, a late Will Evans own goal gave Bromley a win on our grass in 2019/20 and Joe Kizzi won it late on for the visitors last season. 

And Michael Cheek scoring a brace should be no surprise either, he’s notched six in seven against us now, though Evans v Cheek still remains the most memorable moment from a Spireites viewpoint back in his Ebbsfleet days! 

Should we be disappointed? Sure, any game affecting concession that is followed by 90+6 is gut wrenching. I’ll ask that slightly differently. Should we be disappointed by the performance? Heck, no! It’s just ironic that the team’s best, most intense, most dominant performance of the season to date ended with the first dropped points of the campaign. 

Bromley, who lost out to Hartlepool United in the play-offs last season, offered a very different challenge than the previous three opponents. A striker with 100 National League goals in 242 appearances already in his locker, an average height substantially greater than anything we’ve seen this term, and a team that rarely loses under manager Andy Woodman but from the off, James Rowe’s side were at it. 

The visitors, who’ve only lost three times under their current manager (to Chesterfield & Hartlepool last season and this season, at leaders Dagenham & Redbridge), were largely pinned back in their own half as Spireites ran at their rear-guard with Calvin Miller, Jack Clarke and Saidou Khan in particular, causing havoc. That said, the clear-cut chance list was not as high as it could have been, and that ultimately was the main factor in not banking maximum points. 

For the first time this season, Chesterfield conceded, but they immediately showed what was needed in response, with a crackerjack (CRACKERJACK) from George Carline, who did well to keep the ball live on the touchline before receiving back and half-volleying a Goal of the Season contender. 

The second half continued in a similar vein with Bromley only looking potentially dangerous when their big defenders moved up for free-kicks, and they did hit wood on one of those occasions. Spireites continued to dart here, there and everywhere and keeper Mike Cousins had to be at the top of his game a couple of times, particularly to keep out a Jamie Grimes shot. 

The hosts took a deserved lead when the effervescent Miller dumped debut maker Haji Mnoga on the deck as he turned on a tanner and pulled back for sub Manny Oyeleke to fire home through a crowd from the box-edge, another GOTS short-lister, though I’ve got a feeling that short-list may just be longer than any previous Spireites National League long-list!

That, it seemed, was that. Daggers and Boreham Wood both drawing, so it looked like a top-of-the-league sort of evening, but Cheek did what Cheek does, and he bundled in sub Harry Forster’s cross in the sixth minute of stoppage time (where did that come from?) to remind every Chesterfield connection that nothing’s for certain at this uncompromising level. 

The old adage of ‘play like that every week and we’ll be alright’ was never more appropriately uttered, mainly through gritted teeth. Add to that the fact that Cheek has scored more National League goals that any player currently playing at the level; only current Bradford City striker Andy Cook has more, and Cheek is only two behind him so, thankfully, we’ll not be facing his like many times. 

A busy week coming up for me, a trip to AFC Wimbledon’s new home, a Nick Cave gig and a day at Old Trafford at the Test match, but the long journey to the bottom right-hand corner of the country next Saturday is the one that I’m the most excited about.

Phil’s Positive: The performance was the best of the season to date, a dominant performance sadly punctuated by a couple of seconds of disappointment. 

The Spireites’ next game is on Saturday, September 11, at Dover Athletic, kick-off 3pm. 

Team v Bromley (3-5-2 to start): Loach; Maguire, Gunning, Grimes; Carline, Weston, Khan (Oyeleke 57), Clarke (Mandeville 63), Miller; Rowe (Payne 79), Tshimanga.  

Sub not used: King, McCourt

Goals: Carline 38, Oyeleke 72 (Chesterfield), Cheek (pen) 36, 90+6 (Bromley)

Ref: Martin Woods

Booked: Clarke, Miller, Oyeleke (Chesterfield), Webster (Bromley)

Attendance: 5,229 (100 from Bromley)