Tooley’s Take

Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context  

Woking 3 Chesterfield 1 National League Match #9

The hastily rearranged match interfered with my wife Sylvia’s birthday celebrations, so we arranged a lovely lunch in Birmingham, the day after her big day (and Spireites’ bad day) on the way home. A nasty accident in Derby meant it took us nearly four hours to get home from Brum, just to add to the general hangover from the evening before.

What that change in plan meant was that I have had an extra night to consider my ramblings, but I assure you, it’s not made things more bearable or any easier. It’s impossible to dress up the performance at just turned full-time Woking. On a foul night from a weather perspective, Chesterfield were equally unpalatable!  

From having an astounding start, Saidou Khan’s 11th minute wondergoal was meant, and executed in a perfect manner, things began to turn sour. For the next half hour, as the rain hammered down, the Spireites were marginally less bad than the Cards. Passes went astray all over the park, with both teams equally guilty, and the football flowed substantially less effectively than the water off the corrugated rooves of the Kingfield Stadium. 

With half-time approaching, Woking found the right gear. They hit the bar and forced Scott Loach into a series of magnificent saves. Turning round ahead was a massive bonus. 

As thunder and lightning surrounded Surrey, Thor’s hammer itself wouldn’t have done any better against a Spireites side who began to be outfought and outthought. Holding out to the 64th minute was an achievement, but once Tahvon Campbell, who was part of the Forest Green Rovers side (along with Hollis & Gunning) that mathematically condemned the Spireites to the level we’re still at, burst through an increasingly meagre midfield and disappointing defence to level, there only looked to be one winner. Campbell now has six for the season, all scored in braces, so hardly a surprise what came next. 

The fact that it was another late show – 86 and 89 for the two killer blows – added to the hurt, as did Woking winning at home for the first time since March. It all felt much worse than a first defeat of the season and the first in a points-offering game in 14. 

One very poor show for sure, but as always, context is important. This was only the second time in a NL game that Chesterfield have scored first and lost under James Rowe, Solihull Moors away when they scored a last gasp winner (plus the play-off, but that’s not classed as a standard NL game). On 22 occasions in Rowe’s tenure, scoring first has led to a win. Apart from that Notts game, only Hartlepool United have put three past a JR team, whilst his team has scored three or more on five occasions.

The six minutes (plus stoppage time) that Chesterfield trailed in this game means that the team has been behind for just 0.75% of the time this season, compared to being ahead for 51% of the time. Keep that ratio up and Jack will be alright. 

The old adage of ‘win at home and draw away and you’ll go up’ is a pretty accurate evaluation. If the Spireites had achieved that this season to date, the team would be on 17 points. As it happens, the table shows us on 18, so we are ahead of that nominal target, and long may that continue. That calculation also means it’s a free hit at Wrexham next week! 

After Torquay, we all expected a reaction, sadly it didn’t happen, but with a week to work on the training field before the next game, I’d not bet against going another 14 NL games unbeaten, and we’d all settle for that right now. 

Expectation can breed complacency; let’s not get sucked into the belief that every game can and should be won, but let’s hope the levels of expectation we’ve been delivered can be maintained and the levels of reality experienced on Tuesday night can be soon wiped from our memories. 

Phil’s Positive: First Bovril of the season, very nice, and the accompanying pre-match bacon cob from Woking’s concession stand went down surprisingly well. Avoiding being struck by lightning was also a positive feature. As for the match, Khan’s cracker was about it. 

The Spireites’ next game is on Tuesday, October 5, at Wrexham, kick-off 7.45pm  

Team v Woking (3-5-2 to start): Loach; Kerr, Gunning, Grimes; King (Carline 56), Weston, Khan, Mandeville (McCourt 77), Miller; Payne (Rowe 77), Tshimanga.  

Subs not used: Maguire, Whittle 

Goals: Khan 11 (Chesterfield), Campbell 64, 86, Effiong 89 (Woking)

Ref: Ryan Atkin

Booked: King, Carline, Grimes, McCourt, Payne (Chesterfield), Nwabuokei (Woking)

Attendance: 1,855 (213 from Chesterfield)