Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context
Chesterfield 3 Hartlepool United 2 National League Game #6
Six minutes in and there was more than a modicum of tubthumping amongst another mighty Spireites crowd. The dictionary definition of tubthumping says ‘expressing opinions in a loud or aggressive manner.’ Was that the case early doors at The SMH? As any resident of Grimsby would say, Yup!
Then, Chumbawamba, and some magic happened; a bit of Question of Sport (from when it was a proper sports quiz) thrown in, and we had to guess what happened next. After being knocked down, Town got up again, Pools were never going to keep us down. Eighty minutes of near perfection, paradise from the scoreboard lights! It never felt so good, it never felt so right, Town were glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife.
That Meat Loaf classic has a hefty 173 beats per minute, that’s about double a normal heartbeat (for typical folks), but after Dorking Wanderers, Oxford City, Oldham Athletic, Altrincham (even late on at AFC Fylde) and now Hartlepool United, it’s nothing out of the ordinary for your regular Spireite. Flippin’ ‘eck, Cookie, let us have a chance to relax occasionally! There aren’t enough darkened rooms in North Derbyshire to hold us all.
What we saw from the first whistle beggared belief, but as several people have rightly tongue-in-cheek commented on social media, it was good to get the bad bits out of the way early so we could concentrate on the good bits. We looked like we were about to be steam-rollered by the 3pm league leaders, who were unbelievably 2-0 up inside six minutes against a side that (as it had done in Saturday’s second half) once again epitomised the word drivel.
One of the United Spireites of America was at the game. Mark Klysner and his family took in Man United v Forest a couple of days earlier, when the visitors were 2-0 up inside four minutes, but the home side came back to win 3-2. I mentioned that after Dieseruvwe and Mancini’s goals in the 1866 Sport commentary and, fortunately, lightning struck twice. They picked a couple of crackers to attend!
In the minutes leading up to Coco’s header, Chesterfield had started to pick up the pace, and when Mancini, the brightest spark on the pitch at that time, was forced to leave the game after 20 minutes, and United brought on an extra centre half to replace the rapid raider, you could sense that the tide was starting to turn and the wind was definitely moving towards good Sailing weather.
The Spireites moved through the gears and were soon at full pelt, and Pools looked like they were starting to drown, though they remained buoyant enough until goal-getter Grimes levelled things up with a header (corner kick goals scored in all of the last FIVE matches) early in the second half.
Like us at Altrincham on Saturday, once you’re in sitting back mode, it’s a mighty challenge to get out of it, and with Naylor & Jones pulling the midfield strings to allow Mandeville and Colclough to boss the flanks, Hartlepool looked helpless to get back to the incredibly high level they started the match at, whilst the unbelievably low level Town started at, looked to have been a distant memory.
Colclough, who had a stunningly good game, had an effort ruled out for offside, he missed a gilt edged chance as did Will Grigg, but up popped Tom Naylor to side-foot home on 90+4 after great work from the highly impressive sub James Berry to deservedly win it for Chesterfield. Noise. Unbelievable Jeff.
Ten-nil on corners, 13 points and 15 goals from six games (Wrexham were 13 points and 14 goals at the same stage last season), the first home maximum points against Hartlepool United in six attempts, the home-only attendance was 11% higher than last season’s record Whitt Moor average and the league leaders went home empty handed. It all no-end to (partially at least) eradicate the memories of Moss Lane 48 hours earlier.
Mike Jones’s return was pivotal, surely he’s earned a spell as a starter, and his link-up with Naylor (who’s rapidly reached three yellows) ensured that the midfield battle, albeit for only 80 of the 90 minutes, was dominated by Royal Blue shirts. Sub James Berry gave a great display of his potential and Colclough reminded us all exactly why he was voted in the National League All-Stars XI last season.
The team needs to start like it finished and not start like it started for the weekend trip to Aldershot Town, who like the Spireites have zero clean sheets this season, but their home results to date include a 5-2 win over Oxford City and a 3-1 victory against Wealdstone. No Town losses against the Shots in 14 encounters, whilst the last seven trips to The Rec have garnered 17 points with only three concessions (another clean sheet there, PLEASE).
The two teams above Chesterfield play opponents lower than Aldershot in the table, Barnet, who have moved up to be second favourites in the betting markets, are at neighbours Boreham Wood, whilst unbeaten leaders Solihull Moors host Oxford City.
August’s fixtures have finished, a tough schedule of six games. Seven are due in September, meaning just short of 30% of the season will be over before you know it. The league table will give a much truer reflection of the relative strengths and weaknesses of the sides by then, and hopefully we’ll be able to celebrate plenty more points with a smattering of clean sheets, ideally without as much risk to the health of onlookers! And rest.
Phil’s Positive: Bouncing back after conceding four goals in only 20 minutes playing time at the end of Altrincham and the start against Hartlepool United. The next 80-odd minutes were exactly where the team needs to be.
Next Match: Chesterfield travel to Aldershot Town on Saturday, September 2 (3pm KO). The Shots are top home scorers in the National League with nine scored in three games (W2 D1) but they will need to find a new keeper after their only senior one was red-carded in Monday’s 3-0 defeat at Eastleigh. 1866 Sport will be on air from 2pm.
Chesterfield (4-2-3-1 to start): Tyrer; King, Palmer, Grimes, Horton; Naylor, Jones (Oldaker 83); Mandeville, Jacobs (Dobra 78), Colclough (Berry 81); Grigg. Subs (not used): Quigley, Williams.
Goals: Colclough 15, Grimes 47, Naylor 90+4 (Chesterfield), Dieseruvwe 2, Mancini 6 (Hartlepool)
Referee: Gareth Rhodes
Bookings: Naylor, Mandeville, Jones (Chesterfield), Dixon, Paterson, Pruti, Crawford (Hartlepool)
Chesterfield manager Paul Cook and Hartlepool boss John Askey were both booked.
Attendance: 8,451 (1,030 from Hartlepool)
Netcoms IT 1866 Sport Man of the Match: Ryan Colclough (chosen by Jamie Hewitt)