Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context
Chesterfield 1 Eastleigh 0 National League Match #13
An ugly win is still a win, and ugly wins have been absent for much of Spireites’ recent history, so picking one up against an in-form Eastleigh side that had notched up ten points from their previous five NL games was no bad thing.
Gavin Gunning ending up in hospital with a nasty facial wound and Jim Kellermann tweaking a hammy were bad things. We await news of the extent of those injuries with bated breath, as Nic Brink’s spell as the busiest man in Chesterfield continues. Jeff King picking up yellow number four also leaves him perilously close to missing a game through suspension.
On the flip side, seeing Saidou Khan back on the park was a bonus, whilst Jak McCourt and Calvin Miller, clearly playing through the pain barrier, did what was necessary. Well done to them.
The team bus could have more spare seats than ideal for the trip to Dagenham at the weekend; looks like James Rowe, leading his team for the 50th time in all competitions, may need to dip into the loan market before then. At least (potential FA Cup replay excepted) there are no midweek fixtures for four weeks.
I felt the Spireites were terrific when out of possession, with Eastleigh pinned back in non-danger areas for great swathes of time and their virtual absence of any half-decent chances to score backs that up. Maybe it came at the cost of a lack of Chesterfield chances, but the one that came along involved some quality play.
Whilst the manager may feel that the foul on Gunning by Christian Maghoma should have seen the big defender yellow-carded, the referee’s excellent use of the advantage rule when Michael Kelly fouled (and was subsequently booked after the goal) enabled Kellermann and Stefan Payne to combine in a memorable manner before the latter crossed for Kabongo Tshimanga to score from the edge of the six – his 11th goal of the season – and his first ever against the Spitfires.
It’s difficult to recall too many passages of flowing play from either side, but this is the sort of match that last season’s champions Sutton United excelled at, showing just what’s needed to get out of this tough, uncompromising section. Few people expected Grimsby Town to return empty-handed from Wealdstone whilst Stockport County, including surprise signing Antoni Sarcevic, losing at home to Barnet and Wrexham’s 3-2 defeat at Maidenhead Town, show nothing can be taken for granted.
It’s 27 NL games since the Spireites last won 1-0, on Good Friday last season, at Eastleigh, and it’s the seventh clean sheet of the season, the first at home since the Wealdstone game back in August and it means that, for the first time since leaving Saltergate, the team has made it nine unbeaten at home. The fortress foundations are taking shape.
There’s likely to be another shake up at the top of the table on Saturday. Six of the top eight play each other. Apart from our game at seventh-placed Dagenham & Redbridge, it’s Bromley (6) v FC Halifax Town (4) and the black and white stripes derby, with leaders Grimsby hosting eighth-placed Notts County. Town are unbeaten in eight in all games against the Daggers, so an extension of that run would do nicely.
Phil’s Positive: A win on a night when the teams in first, fourth, sixth, eighth, ninth and tenth all dropped points. Plus, the biggest Tuesday night home attendance in over five years and, same as against Boreham Wood, no nervous nineties.
The Spireites’ next game is on Saturday, October 30, at Dagenham & Redbridge, kick-off 3pm. After a great start to the season, the Daggers have lost four of their last five NL games.
Team v Eastleigh (3-5-2 to start): Loach; Kerr, Gunning (Grimes 10), Maguire; King, Oyeleke, Kellermann (McCourt 52), Mandeville, Miller; Payne (Khan 73), Tshimanga.
Subs not used: Tyson, Whittle
Goal: Tshimanga 34 (Chesterfield)
Ref: Adam Herczeg
Booked: Payne, McCourt, King (Chesterfield), Kelly, Harper, Whelan (Eastleigh)
Attendance: 5,086 (83 from Eastleigh)