Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context
Grimsby Town 0 Chesterfield 1 National League Match #18
I don’t know about you, but for me a 1-0 away win featuring a late goal is right up there in the upper echelons of dreamland. They’ve not happened that often of late! The last Spireites travelling three points, with the winner coming in the final ten minutes, was when Reece Mitchell scored at Swindon Town in March 2017 during the reign of Gary Caldwell. That was Town’s only win in a run of 14 games; it’s now 12 without defeat, with nine of them won. Different gravy.
And what a goal. Fraser Kerr’s nod down from an own-half free-kick to enable King Kabby to volley precisely with his first chance of the afternoon, right in front of all but 1,500 bouncing Blues. Perfect.
There were scares before and after that goal, but not many. A messed up an early header and a last second yard-out skied effort meaning Scott Loach again had precious little to do. That was in no small measure due to the centre-back triumvirate of Kerr, Jamie Grimes and Alex Whittle plus skipper Curtis Weston just in front of them. Any of them could justifiably claim the Man of the Match Award, but for me Kerr just topped the team with his assist, edging him home by the narrowest of margins. Grimes is continuing his purple patch as the enforcer in the middle and Whittle has been magnificent when he’s been asked to step inside.
The last time Spireites visited Blundell Park in April 2018, with the hosts in 22nd without a win in 20, and Chesterfield 23rd in League Two, a late Mariners penalty earned a vital 1-0 win which lifted them a place and sent us bottom. That was a very tough gig and the beginning of the very end of our EFL presence. This result was the polar opposite of that. The revenge though will only be fulfilled if we make it back to the level we were in on that devastating day.
James Rowe talked afterwards of commitment and patience, and those qualities were shown in abundance. Grimsby’s back five also had plenty of commitment amongst them, making it extremely difficult to get Tshimanga into the game, and though Calvin Miller clipped the top of the bar with a cross from the left and Jim Kellermann, on his 26th birthday, forced the best save of the game from Max Crocombe, Spireites chances were severely limited. But as at Salford City six days earlier, they found a way to win in a game played in a cauldron-like atmosphere making it feel something like we want to experience every week. Our next NL game against Notts County will surely be another one.
Three more away points means the Spireites have picked up 21 from ten excursions, a divisional high and the six goals conceded (three at Woking) is a divisional travelling low. Add to that an unbeaten home record and that’s all you need to know to work out why the team is where it is.
Kabongo has now scored in seven straight League games. Bag one against County (surely that’ll be another Spireites in the NL record crowd) and he’ll join Jimmy Cookson and Oooh Waller Waller as the only men to score in eight points awarding games on the bounce.
Late I know, but: Dear Santa, please can you make sure that we don’t pick up any injuries against Guiseley and organise for the team to get three points against both the Magpies and the Shaymen, as well as making sure everyone who deserves a ticket for the FA Cup third round replay at the Technique Stadium gets one. Thank you.
Phil’s Positive: Spirit and commitment by the Cleethorpes bucket full by the Spireites enabled James Rowe’s table toppers to remain ahead of the rest despite not being at their flowing best on a day when every team that ended the day in the top seven won. That said, seeing #9 Akwasi Asante on the team-sheet was the biggest positive of all!
The Spireites’ next game is set for 3pm on Saturday, December 18 in the Buildbase FA Trophy against Guiseley. Not going? Catch the game on 1866 Sport.
Team v Grimsby (3-4-2-1 to start): Loach; Kerr, Grimes, Whittle; Williams, Oyeleke (Khan 81), Weston, Miller; Mandeville (Clarke 68), Kellermann; Tshimanga (Payne 90)
Subs not used: McCourt, Asante
Goal: Tshimanga 84 (Chesterfield)
Referee: Scott Tallis
Booked: Tshimanga (Chesterfield), Coke (Grimsby).
Attendance: 6,504 (1,483 from Chesterfield)