Tooley’s Take

Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context  

Chelsea 5 Chesterfield 1 Emirates FA Cup third round

The 16 players who appeared for Chelsea in this memorable FA Cup tie cost the European champions £360 million, more money than Chesterfield FC has turned over in its history. The same 16 players between them have won 448 full international caps. Context. 

Akwasi Asante’s first goal in ten months, scored when the Spireites were trailing 5-0, was celebrated as wildly as any other by the biggest army of Chesterfield away supporters of the 21st century. Fact. 

Losing 5-1 but scoring that goal in front of an always noisy, always smiling, always supportive 5,800 fans was much, much better than losing 1-0 and not having that single moment of sheer, unadulterated joy. Unquestionable. 

Kabongo Tshimanga’s burst and Asante’s tap in is right up there with Jay O’Shea at Burton Albion, Craig Westcarr at Wembley, Derek Niven and Saltergate (twice, Bournemouth and Man City) or Glynn Hurst late on at home to Luton Town as the ‘if only you could bottle it’ moments of the last 20 years. Joy.

At that moment, there wasn’t a single Spireite who cared that before that moment Werner (Champions League winner), Hudson-Odoi (England international), Lukaku (101 caps for the No.1 international team), Christensen (Euro 2020 semi-finalist) and Ziyech (three times voted in the African Team of the Year) had scored earlier. Irrelevant. 

Credit to Thomas Tuchel for naming such a strong side of phenomenal players, and we’ll hear loads more about debut maker Lewis Hall who, at 17, has a great career ahead of him. As soon as the team sheet came out, all realistic hopes of an upset all but evaporated. Mountain. 

The first milestone was reached in the 43rd second. When Town were robbed of a place in the 1997 FA Cup Final against Chelsea, Middlesbrough conceded 42 seconds in and we all said, at the time, that no John Duncan side would have conceded that early. Going behind after six minutes was far from an ideal start, but the build-up quality showed what we were up against. Quality. 

The rest of the first half was disappointing, but the second half, kicking towards the vibrant Shed End, was exhilarating. Fraser Kerr came close ahead of that moment of bliss which encapsulated the club’s 180 degree turnaround over the last 18 months, from an embarrassing shambles on and off the park to a  club with hope, with a positive future and with a growing fan base. Trust. 

Social media was buzzing all afternoon with oodles of Chelsea followers rating the Chesterfield fans’ performance as ‘best ever’ and all Spireites celebrating the fixture, the day out, the goal as a mark of success, not an afternoon of defeat. Hope. 

It’s back down to London next weekend for a more mundane but much more important match at Barnet, a team that both Asante and Tshimanga have scored hat-tricks against. Whilst there won’t be the numbers of the travelling army that went to SW6, the fans will be buzzing, and the players will be desperate to continue their 11-match unbeaten run in the National League. Sailing. 

Never would I have thought I’d celebrate a 5-1 defeat in this way. Proud. 

Phil’s Positive: The sheer joy of Akwasi Asante when I told him after the match, he was the first non-league player to score at Stamford Bridge for 107 years! The fact that no non-league team has played there for 102 years was irrelevant to him, he’d done something that no one else has since the time of WW1. Stats!

The Spireites’ next game is a rearranged one, at Barnet, on Saturday, January 15, kick-off 3pm. Can’t get? Listen in on 1866 Sport 

Team v Chelsea (3-4-2-1 to start): Loach; Kerr, Gunning (Grimes 60), Croll; King (Miller 46), Oyeleke (Maguire 72), Weston, Whittle; Kellermann (Asante 66), Khan (Mandeville 46); Tshimanga. 

Subs not used: Minter, McCourt, Tyson & Payne

Goals: Werner 6, Hudson-Odoi 18, Lukaku 20, Christensen 39, Ziyech 55 (Chelsea); Asante 80 (Chesterfield)

Referee: Jarred Gillett

Booked: King (Chesterfield), Saul (Chelsea)

Attendance: 39,795 (around 5,800 from Chesterfield)