Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context
Dagenham & Redbridge 2 Chesterfield 2 National League Match #14
The clocks went back this weekend, giving me an extra hour to consider what my take would be on this game. To be honest, it hasn’t really helped that much, I still don’t know what I’m going to write!
First off, it’s now nine games unbeaten against Dagenham & Redbridge and secondly, a week ago, who’d have thought we’d be dead level with Grimsby Town who’ve lost back to back games 1-0 this week? Every Spireite would have taken that.
It must have been a selection nightmare for James Rowe. Not for the usual too many players reason, but the not enough fit bodies kind. Undoubtedly, he’ll have to have made decisions he didn’t want to make, with Calvin Miller being at the top of that pile. The gaffer revealed afterwards that the Scot had flown from Glasgow on the morning of the match after being at the birth of his second child, after playing in pain against Eastleigh in midweek. The team-sheet must have been littered with similar calls.
Then, to add to Spireites’ woes, Laurence Maguire went down in the first couple of minutes, battled briefly on, and then was stretchered off, all before some spectators will have arrived at the game. His armband was passed to Jamie Grimes, who didn’t hear the final whistle for different reasons (very harsh), meaning Manny Oyeleke became skipper number three of the afternoon. The game ended with a back three of Jim Kellermann, Fraser Kerr and Alex Whittle. I’m polishing my boots as soon as I’ve completed this task!
The first half, not helped by the enforced change plus an injury to Saidou Khan that looked like his afternoon was going to be curtailed at his former club, was pretty flat for the visitors. Liam Mandeville was ready to replace Khan before the break, but the midfielder stayed on, despite being another that probably wouldn’t have started in more normal circumstances.
Angelo Balanta scored the opener on 13, the first National League goal conceded by Chesterfield in the opening half hour this season, an incredible run. Ironically, the last first-30 goal conceded was against Daggers in the only fans-in game at The Technique last season, a game Spireites went on to win 2-1. George Saunders doubled the lead meaning, for the first time in 20 NL games, the manager had to deliver a half-time team-talk with his side behind. Another incredible statistic (Torquay United at home last season).
Whatever was said by management and players, it worked. Jeff King assisted again, his free kick finding the stand-in skipper’s head at the far post and within two minutes, the right wing back was at it again, delivering for Kabongo Tshimanga, the only outfield Spireite to have played every 90 minutes in every NL game this season, to make it a round dozen in game number 14.
A win looked on, but there wasn’t a dissatisfied Spireite amongst the magnificent 439 in East London when the final whistle blew, and even Dagenham boy, the late, great Sir Alf Ramsey would’ve acknowledged how well Chesterfield did on the day in extremely testing circumstances.
Whilst I’d love to see the team beat Southend United in the FA Cup next week, am I alone in my view that I’d rather exit the competition than draw and face a replay? Controversial.
Phil’s Positive: Coming from two down to get some reward. That’s only happened twice in the NL before, both at home, to Ian Evatt’s Barrow and the memorable 3-3 Ebbsfleet saga. Last point on the road after such a deficit, at Morecambe in April 2018, when Arsenal’s ‘best save I’ve seen in years’ Aaron Ramsdale was in goal for us.
The Spireites’ next game is on Saturday, November 6, at home to Southend United in the FA Cup first round proper, kick-off 3pm. Great to be back in at this stage after a two-year absence, but will we manage to name seven subs! Maybe we can ask for it to be a five-a-side game or go straight to a penalty shoot-out!
Team v Dagenham & Redbridge (3-5-2 to start): Loach; Kerr, Grimes, Maguire (Miller 9); King, Oyeleke, Kellermann, Khan (McCourt 78), Whittle; Payne (Mandeville 66), Tshimanga.
Subs not used: Minter & Tyson
Goals: Balanta 13, Saunders 23 (Dagenham & Redbridge), Grimes 50, Tshimanga 52 (Chesterfield)
Ref: Daniel Middleton
Booked: Kellermann, Whittle, Khan, Payne, Grimes (two, red card 83 mins) (Chesterfield), Vilhete, Reynolds (Dagenham & Redbridge)
Attendance: 1,711 (439 away)