Tooley’s Take

Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context  

Chesterfield 1 Grimsby Town 4 National League Match #37

It certainly was Grim(sby) Up North on Saturday afternoon. Dry with sunny spells welcomed Laurence Maguire’s early header from a terrific corner routine before an unsettled period with a chance of a storm, especially when Joey Jones missed the sitter of the season from an inch and three-quarters. 

The long-range forecast saw John McAtee and Gavin Holohan deliver lightning strikes and, whilst the heavens didn’t quite open after that, Harry Clifton’s early second half header made travel in a Southerly direction much more difficult. Then when the travelling fans hailed Ryan Taylor on 78, the stormy weather led to floods of leavers from the East, South and West. 

Paul Cook’s managed around 500 matches, and he told me afterwards that was his worst day in the job. I’m not going to argue with that. He also acknowledged that scoring is an issue, which is backed up by the fact that in the 11 games since his return, more than one goal has been scored on just three occasions, two of those being the draw with Southend United and the defeat against Solihull Moors. 

To be fair to the gaffer, he did lose the League’s leading scorer in his first game back but in those games, it’s worth noting, that the midfield has contributed just two goals, one from Jim Kellermann (Yeovil Town) and the other, his only goal of the campaign, from Calvin Miller (Southend). 

Liam Mandeville’s not scored since New Year’s Day, Saidou Khan since October, Tom Whelan’s yet to get off the mark since his return whilst Curtis Weston’s sole goal of the season was a Goal of the Season contender at Eastleigh. Clearly this section needs to contribute more if the play-offs are (a) to be reached and (b) to be a pleasurable and successful experience. 

Pub debate abounds about two or three central defenders as well as one or two strikers, but the truth is, whatever the formation, crossing has been lacking quality of late, speculative shooting from range (see Altrincham) has been minimal and set-plays (despite Maguire’s goal) have been plentiful but not fruitful. 

Manny Oyeleke’s return was welcome, and despite his obvious rustiness, he did shoot from range and hit the post at 1-3, as well as doing the usual unheralded stuff very well. Add in the news that Nathan Tyson, Tom Denton and Danny Rowe are back in full training is a big positive in a Blue World that there’s currently an imbalance in the battle with negatives. I bumped into Luke Croll on Friday evening (absolutely certainly not in any pub….., for sure) as I was chatting to The Belgian Spireites (who never go in pubs anyway), and he expects to be back just before the end of the regulation season. 

The play-offs are irrelevant if you don’t make them, so focus has to be on ensuring Chesterfield are part of them, with a finish of at least fourth or fifth the minimum aim; second or third is a tough ask now, but possible, but to ensure all Spireites believe, a win at Wealdstone is a must. Must win? Mathematically, no. Must Win? Absolutely. 

Phil’s Positive: The shrill sound of Mr Quelch’s final whistle, a real quality blow, to put us out of our misery. 

Spireites’ next game is at Wealdstone on Saturday, April 9, kick-off 3pm. Can’t get to the match? Listen in on 1866 Sport from 2.30pm.

Team v Notts (4-2-3-1 to start): Loach; King, Grimes, Maguire, Whittle; Weston, Whelan (Oyeleke 57); Khan(Quigley 57), Miller (Rowley 85), Mandeville; Asante

Subs not used: Gunning, McCourt 

Goals: Maguire 6 (Chesterfield), McAtee 27, Holohan 31, Clifton 50, Taylor 78

Referee: Adrian Quelch

Booked: King (Chesterfield), McAtee (Grimsby)

Attendance: 7819 (1718 from Grimsby)