Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context
FC Halifax Town 2 Chesterfield 0 National League Match #39
One up front? Two up front? Three up front? Hours of fun debate can be had. Create chances and don’t take them, no debate necessary, the only conversations then are based around Roget and his Thesaurus.
Ineffective, inadequate, fruitless, impotent, profligate, wasteful, squandering, toothless, impuissant (I looked up the last one, new word on me, means unable to take effective action, or powerless). Give us an ‘I’………
First half, even stevens. I’ve not seen the Tom Denton ‘goal’ back yet, but it’s split opinion. Nothing wrong with it, Tom was being fouled versus offside and a Dents’ foul. Marginal. Mad Gav made a stunning block and we saw a bit of Mandy Magic to force a save on the turn. Fair score, more sparring than slugging it out, Paul Cook would have been relatively happy.
Chesterfield gradually began to snuff out the home threat, though ex-Spireite Jordan Slew always looked the man most likely, and the visitors’ confidence began to grow, and the chance count grew with it.
Good chances, great chances, solid saves, bad misses, surely a foul (and red) on Akwasi. It was like a Carry on film, camping in the right area, but you just knew that despite all the efforts, something would give and the two attractions that were inevitably uncovered wouldn’t go your way.
Just think Wrexham, first half. Repeat. Two sucker punches, Slew followed rapidly by a Matty Warburton deflected effort and the section’s home superstars racked up a 16th at The Shay. Very disappointing.
Paul Cook has five games left to build up some momentum for the play-offs (we’ll be there, the only issue is the starting point) and he knows he’s got a job on his hands, with too many players not finding the levels of consistency he’ll be demanding. More niggling injuries are not helping, Khan & Maguire were absent after neck and ankle issues picked up in training, whilst Gunning’s withdrawal had a huge effect on the match.
Strikers aren’t scoring enough (five in Cook’s 13 games, two of them penalties), midfielders aren’t creating enough, and the defenders & keeper have kept just two clean sheets in the last 15 outings. Plenty of food for thought, plenty to work on, and many will think there are too many issues too late in the season, and they have a valid point. One win in five isn’t ambrosia, the food of the gods, it’s more Ambrosia, a variety of lumpy puddings.
Last season, making the play-offs was a celebration in itself after years of self-destruction. Finishing in a top seven spot this term will feel very different. The expectancy level had been raised, the team has toyed with top spot, and as Stockport County, Wrexham and Solihull Moors have kicked on with terrific runs, it’s been a bit of a Spireites stutter, punctuated with injuries sent to test the very best of squads.
Making the season extending slots will be more of a relief than a joyous moment this time around, but rest assured, we’ll be there, Boreham Wood’s collapse has aided us no end, so from then on, who knows what? I’m still an optimist and I’m planning on rabbiting on about my heroes at the final (hopefully at West Ham, which will mark 92 for me second time round!), COYB!
Phil’s Positive: At half-time, it was the performance of Gavin Gunning, but his calf intervened, and the hosts took advantage.
The Spireites’ next game is at home to relegated Dover Athletic, a team Town still haven’t beaten, on Saturday, April 23, kick-off 3pm. Can’t get to the match? Listen in on 1866 Sport from 2.30pm.
Team v Halifax (3-5-2 to start): Loach; Williams, Gunning(Miller 46), Grimes; King, Weston, Kellermann (McCourt 72), Mandeville, Whittle; Asante, Denton (Quigley 59)
Subs not used: Oyeleke, Whelan
Goals: Slew 76, Warburton 80
Referee: Tom Kirk
Booked: Kellermann (Chesterfield)
Attendance: 3294 (1074 from Chesterfield)