Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context  

Bromley 4 Chesterfield 3 National League Game #33

‘Who Are Ya?, Who Are Ya?’ chanted the well refreshed hospitality guests around the press area as The Bromley Boys, led by the Boy Cheeky, nicked it right at the end. I maintained my dignity throughout, but just wanted to answer, ‘We are the team 20 points ahead of you!’ Nothing else needed to be said.

Great spectacle, shocking defending, Goal of the Season contender, Save of the Season winner, seven goals, both teams led. Just another typical National League day. Remember, Bromley are the second best team in the section. They are experts on their artificial pitch. The last team to score four against Chesterfield in the NL were Bromley, in April 2022, on their plastic pitch. 

Everyone I spoke to before kick-off  would have taken a draw, and, on 90 minutes it was 3-3, so Town’s failure to achieve an acceptable result was only a whisker from not being a failure. Get a grip. 

The Spireites ran the first half, which was pretty low key, but with Grigg and Banks both in fine form, a 1-0 lead at the break was the least Paul Cook’s side deserved. DJ Oldaker’s anticipation as to where the ball would be cleared to and his step on that resulted in the foul, spot kick, goal, was exemplary. Perfect penalty from Grigg. 

Our half-time chat was that all of Bromley’s strengths had been negated. Their pace and their centre-forward had gone missing in action. Sadly, Andy Woodman woke them up at the break!

Straight from the re-start, the Ravens were flying, and Town’s defenders looked like they’d all developed Ornithophobia (look it up. Tyrone doesn’t like pigeons, and that’s true, because he’s told me in interviews!) It was Ty who was caught out by pitch bounce, and as he sought to recover, it looked like the Raven action was indeed a foul, but the ref chickened out, cross delivered, Cheek levels with his second attempt after a great Tyrer save. BTW, ref Durkin, son of Paul is no lucky mascot. He’s reffed 50% of Town’s NL defeats this season, he was the guy that sent-off the skipper at Solihull on Boxing Day. 

The host’s pace was prevalent and all of a sudden, Chesterfield became very un-Chesterfield like, surrendering possession and making passing errors far too frequently. Bromley’s second came after a lost ball in a Spireites attack, rapid burst down their left, ball in, Cheek #2, cracks definitely showing in the rearguard. 

Quality teams bounce back. Chesterfield are a quality team and they bounced back. Ollie Banks rocket. What a hit. Starman, let the Town fans boogie (Bowie had to visit at some time). 

Birthday boy Liam Mandeville then notched up NL assist #13, a peach of an in-swinging left wing corner for Major Tom (sorry) to glance home a near post header. Milestone alert: That was Chesterfield’s 50th NL goal this season scored by a midfielder. More than half of the teams in the section haven’t yet reached 50 goals in total. Turnaround complete? Should have been. 

Bromley bounced back as Chesterfield have so many times this season, and pain in the butt Cheek completed his hat-trick making it ten goals in his unlucky 13th appearance against Chesterfield. He’s not scored more goals against any other club in his career. 

It was his first hat-trick in almost six years, his last was for Dag & Red in a 5-3 away win at Guiseley when he put three past ex-Spireites keeper Luke Coddington. At the break in that game, Daggers led 4-3 and Guiseley made some changes to bolster their defence, including bringing on a certain Ash Palmer! 

Never mind, a draw will do the job and the point looked to have been secured when H stepped up to left-hand away a point blank hammered in shot from Kirk to make, what I’m pretty sure, is the best save I’ve ever seen live. The Bromley commentator called it the ‘Save of the Century’, and I mentioned Gordon Banks and Pele in my immediate mutterings. Stunning. 

But, alas, not to be. Chesterfield failed to see Woods in a forest of bodies and it was game over, a rare defeat at the end of a game that saw Spireites concede four in a half for the first time in the National League (European champions Chelsea managed it in the Cup). Indeed the last such points-offering foursome was at Crewe Alexandra in September 2017 in a 5-1 defeat that all but ended Gary Caldwell’s spell in charge. It’s a rare thing. 

FC Halifax Town have hit a bit of form with a WWW run following a LLL spell. There’s bound to be plenty of visiting fans at The Shay (cash only, pay on the day). Their last two home games for evening games have attracted under 1,400 supporters, so can the Spireites top 50% of the crowd on Tuesday?

If Bromley finish the season with their current points per game, they’ll hit 85 points. As for Barnet, they’d also reach 85. If Chesterfield win at Halifax, they’d move to 84 points. Fret ye not, don’t start ripping up your Maidenhead United tickets just yet!

Phil’s Positive: Being able to shoulder shrug and be a bit ‘meh’ as the team’s lead is slashed to 20 points. The anticipation that there’ll be no more plastic pitches next season! 

Next Match: Tuesday, February 20, Chesterfield travel to play-off chasing FC Halifax Town, with the game kicking-off at 7.45pm. 1866 Sport will be on air from 7pm, and don’t forget this Friday’s Weekend Warm-up with me and Ellie Yates, 7pm – 8pm.

Chesterfield (4-2-3-1 to start): Tyrer; Sheckleford, Williams, Grimes, Clements; Naylor, Oldaker; Mandeville (Palmer 90+2), Banks, Jacobs (Dobra 84); Grigg. Subs (not used): Quigley, Hobson, Jones.

Goals: Grigg 31 (pen), Banks 67, Naylor 72 (Chesterfield), Cheek 47, 63, 86, Woods 90+4 (Bromley)

Referee: James Durkin

Bookings: Oldaker (Chesterfield), Woods (Bromley)

Attendance:  3,889 (632 from Chesterfield) 

Netcoms IT 1866 Sport Man of the Match: Ollie Banks (chosen by Lee Francis)