Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context
Wealdstone 1 Chesterfield 2
National League Match #38
Must Win Game. Won. Must score soon. Scored. Must rely on others. Grimsby D, Boreham Wood L, Notts County L. Must get some players back. Gunning and Denton start. Must switch to three at the back. Job done.
After that, the Grand National and Lottery looked straight forward. Third at 10-1 each way, so so, but not even a Lotto Lucky Dip. Not so good.
The first thing I have to say about the match, Wealdstone were a good, solid, easy on the eye team to watch. They are very difficult to score against on their own two-way sloping park (the surface was excellent, but Liam Mandeville was desperately searching for a divot when he mis-controlled when put through) and it took a sitter-miss from sub Jamie Mascoll in the final few minutes to keep it at 2-1. But he missed and Town bagged the booty.
Two terrific finishes won it for Paul Cook’s side. Jamie Grimes’ half volley from a really well worked free-kick, which went crisply via many before Tom Denton’s nod down enabled the net ripper to find the desired target. Then, having been pegged back, Dents made way for Joe Quigley, desperate for a goal, just eight minutes on grass, with a yellow already in the bag, he unleashed a just outside the box angled Exocet. Boom, shake, shake, shake the room. Much, much more intensity than any Will Smith hit.
Wealdstone’s leveller came at a time when Spireites were camped in the attacking third, looking likely to double their advantage. Maybe there was a bit of a feeling that another Town goal was inevitable and imminent, as the cover at the back was somewhat light when Charles Clayden, on loan from Charlton Athletic, epitomised the role of a box to box player, but at very high speed, to cross in for the only Stones’ man who could keep up with him, Josh Umerah, to slide in from close range. Great play, not great defending.
Superb strikes may dominate the post-match chat, but it was the manager’s seemingly inevitable decision to make changes after the Grimsby Town debacle, and switch to a formation that better suits the current crop of players, with three centre-backs and wing-backs. That was the kingmaker.
It must have been a gamble of a Grand National extent to start with both Denton and Gunning, 15 and three months after their last starts, though looking back to last season, Denton and Akwasi Asante started together five times and helped bag ten points. Decent return.
But the gamble worked. Gunning’s vocals helped create a harmony in the team and though it wasn’t an always faultless show, he definitely provided the drum and bass role to keep everyone else in time and tune. Jeff King and Alex Whittle revelled in their roles that concentrated on looking forwards and not back, whilst Mandeville, in the 10 shirt and 10 role, put in an immense amount of groundwork, though he was let down more than once by his first touch. But everywhere he ventured, he drew defenders with him. Space was created, it could have been exploited more, but that can be worked on ahead of the visit to the Shay Stadium.
Big Tom clearly needed the gas in his tank, and Quigley clearly needed the goal. With both achieved, that can only augur well for the trip to Halifax, undoubtedly a key match in the rapidly reducing run-in. We just need six of the best.
No Oyeleke on the team sheet surprised a few, but Paul Cook told me before the game that he still needs more rehabilitation before he can be classed as fully fit, and he’s too valuable an asset to risk in the short-term with a seasonal extension looming.
No Good Friday game, but fixtures include Wrexham v Solihull Moors and Grimsby Town v Stockport County whilst Easter Monday’s 3pms features Stockport County v Solihull Moors, so the long-range forecast is that dropped points in the vicinity are inevitable.
Phil’s Positive: QUIGLEY – what a goal! Our first away win having conceded an equaliser since the big match at FC Halifax Town at the end of last season; there’s a thing!
The Spireites’ next game is at FC Halifax Town, the team with the National League’s best home record (W15 D1 L3) on Monday, April 18, kick-off 5.20pm. Can’t get to the match or watch on telly? Listen in on 1866 Sport from 5.00pm. All of our rivals will have played two more games ahead of the kick-off, so things at the top will be much clearer.
Team v Wealdstone (3-5-2 to start): Loach; Williams, Gunning, Grimes; King, Weston, Kellermann, Mandeville (Miller 86), Whittle; Asante (Khan 71), Denton (Quigley 60)
Subs not used: McCourt, Maguire
Goals: Grimes 35, Quigley 68 (Chesterfield), Umerah 52 (Wealdstone)
Referee: Robert Whitton
Booked: Williams, Quigley (Chesterfield), Umerah(Wealdstone)
Attendance: 1,337 (502 from Chesterfield)