Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context  

Chesterfield 0 Oldham Athletic 1 National League Match #32

I was always a bit wary of those Chumbawamba guys. It’s now official, the Burnley band are big fibbers. We’ve been knocked down eight times now and have shown some signs of getting back up again, but nothing that makes you feel we’re still not reeling from sucker punch after sucker punch. Whisky drink needed, an early substitution for the lager drink, real ale will come into play, vodka and cider are poor selections. But great to see Oh Danny Boy. Surely things can only get better. We can all D:Ream.

The Sunday morning cup of tea (Twinings Everyday, one sweetner, excellent) has been consumed, Mahler’s fifth symphony is in the background, but the pain’s not subsided. My gob remains smacked, my crest remains fallen and my drink of choice should have been bitter.

It certainly doesn’t help that Town’s first-half performance (sucker punch excepted) was bob-on. It certainly doesn’t help that Oldham, in the second half, created zip. It certainly hinders when you look back over the last few weeks and know the team should have seen off at least six, possibly seven, of the Hateful Eight. Sadly that particular story ended badly, and Tarantino’s next effort, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood didn’t go too well either!

I briefly spoke to the new owner of Oldham Athletic after the match and he was not only praising the club’s hospitality, ‘best this season’ he remarked, but also his side’s keeper, Magnus Norman, who made a number of more than decent saves. That’s noted as a minor step-forward, as Town’s top-end hasn’t been testing keepers anywhere near enough (Ashmore apart at BW) during our possession and expected goals superiority that has brought such scant reward.

I rued recently that we weren’t missing chances, but missing the chance to create chances, but pre-break, against the Latics there were plenty created, but not taken. Conceding in the sixth minute against a team with just one away win all season also meant that they had something to protect, and we all know that such an approach, of the opposition sitting back, is our nightmare scenario.

Midfield play was concertinaed into a tight space as Oldham played a high line, and as the game went on, it became ever more staccato as the visitors, quite rightly, went for the stop-start approach and our game became gradually more ragged with, in the latter stages, pass after pass going astray, frustrating every blue-blood to high heaven. The only local who came out with credit in that last half-hour was the pigeon.

Chances or not, possession or not, best side or not, it matters not. Points mean prizes, we are not playing our cards right, for neutrals it may be a good game, but for Spireites, at the moment, it’s not nice to see you. We all want to know what’s occurin’.

The expected goals computer may be saying yes, it’s not been lovely jubbly for a while, we are bovvered, we started so we want it finished, we need Cookie to come up with a cunning plan. Forget the pigeon, we need a bit of Partridge’s Back of the Net, and we need it now to keep Alan Sugar at bay.

We can analyse this and that, what he did right or wrong, was the team selection right, why not use all three subs, until the bovines are back, but whilst things are rapidly going south and with Southend United coming over the horizon, it’s all about points accumulation.

It’s not working at the moment, so the gaffer has to consider doing something different, be that two up top or three at the back, or something else, we all have our theories. Edison famously said ‘stop doing the same thing and expecting different results’.

But it wasn’t Paul Cook that blazed over from six yards, headed inches wide from a great position or decided against a left-foot shot and lost the advantage, but he knows as well as anyone, that in the beautiful game, just missing the opportunity to score the perfect goal is nowhere near as good as a spawny own goal winner and Chesterfield now need winners more than anything, and they are needed very quickly and very regularly.

This season’s Dragons Racecourse Record? W15 D1 L0. Doh! But if you thought things couldn’t get worse, today’s our last day of a two-year fixed gas and lekky tariff, so I’ll be at Wrexham on Tuesday if I’ve not succumbed to hypothermia.

Phil’s Positive: No competition; seeing Danny Rowe back in a Chesterfield shirt, his first touch leading to a fine save.

The Spireites’ next game is on Tuesday, February 28, 2023, when we will be seeking a win-double over Wrexham, 7.45pm kick-off; 1866 Sport will be live at the stadium from 7pm.

Chesterfield (4-2-3-1 to start): Fitzsimons; King, Williams, Grimes, Clements; Banks, Jones (Rowe 75); Mandeville, Banks, Colclough (Uchegbulam 87); McCallum. Subs (not used): Maguire, Quigley, Akinola.

Referee: Steve Copeland

Bookings: Oldaker, Jones (Chesterfield), Kitching, Norman (Oldham)


Attendance: 7,347 (1,306 from Oldham)


Netcoms IT 1866 Sport Man of the Match: Ryan Colclough (chosen by Jamie Hewitt)