Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context
Southend United 1 Chesterfield 2 National League Match #35
Chesterfield completed the seaside double having won at Torquay in November, and this win was the best away performance since then. In the latter stages, Town had to repel wave after wave of Shrimpers’ attack, but they remained solid as a stick of Southend rock, no donkeys in sight.
Since losing that humdinger of a match at The Technique in the autumn, Southend had picked up an impressive 45 points from 25 games to put themselves right in the play-off mix, despite their off-the-field travails, which include a transfer embargo and the walking out of one of their star defenders.
On the night, they showed just why they had picked up the pace with some great defending and, after Wreh and Mooney came off the bench, their attack burst into life with Harry Cardwell scoring a couple of minutes after Ryan Colclough had seemingly put the game to bed.
Many a time in the last few years, we’ve crumbled under such late pressure, but the keeper, back four and all of those ahead of them put in a right shift, full of energy, grit and determination, plus there were a few NL black arts mixed in there too. Sadly, of late, there haven’t been too many occasions when Spireites players have been able to display their grasp of the finer points of winning games at this level, so good to see the arts remain alive and well!
I spoke after the game to both the skipper and the scorer of the crucial opener (score first this season, W13 D3 L0), and both Jamie and Loz said they love the constant barrage of the opponents when there’s a lead to protect. I told them that, as fans, we don’t (at least until the final whistle is blown!)
Sparring to open, a fantastic header from Mandeville’s corner opened up the game, McCallum hit wood, and Town were total charge after Colclough’s third in three games, a box-edge shot, proving that you do sometimes score when you shoot.
But, with the hardy travelling fans (650 miles travelling if they attended both Gateshead and Southend) still celebrating, the margin was halved and the visitors’ oft criticised defence had to step up to the plate and win the game for Paul Cook’s side, and they did just that, repelling the persistent and tenacious raiders with a team togetherness that has only rarely been seen in 2023.
With Sheckleford and Maguire (that’s 18 different scorers now) at full-back, of course there’s a trade-off, with less fluent attacking but a more steely defence. With the likes of Colclough, Uchegbulam and now Dallas plus the soon to return Dobra ahead of them, there’s pace and guile aplenty to launch counters.
New man Dallas, who came on in the #10 position before moving to the left side attacking midfield slot, showed heaps of promise. Quick, skilful and good off the ball positioning. His signing could be a pivotal moment of the season and Colclough’s acquisition is also now really starting to pay off.
This was the gaffer’s first win at Roots Hall as a manager since his Accrington Stanley days, and for those who like a quirky fact, it was Town’s first win in the city of Southend on Sea, the old town being elevated to city status last year.
On a night when Barnet, Woking and Eastleigh all lost, the table looks a little healthier than it did at kick-off time at the athletics track on Saturday, and fans will be expecting (aka demanding) a hat-trick of wins when Yeovil Town visit at the weekend to, hopefully, put to bed a run of just one point from the last four matches on our own well-manicured grass.
The Glovers, who like Southend have an unpopular ownership regime, have scored a divisional low 11 goals on their travels (only away win at Dagenham & Redbridge) and they sit just one place above the drop zone. Having used 37 different players in the league this season, Yeovil look set to give a debut to #38, Scott Pollock, a goal every two games scoring midfielder acquired from Boston United.
The brief respite from travelling will be followed by trips to tenth-placed Wealdstone (our last Tuesday night away game) and third-placed Woking, which is shaping up to be a massive game, but for now let’s just celebrate a come from behind 2-1 away win and a keep them out 2-1 away win and rest our weary accelerator pedal foot before next week’s nice and easy mere 610 miles on the road.
Phil’s Positive: Jamie Grimes, terrific, Ryan Colclough, hot streak, Andrew Dallas, rapid.
The Spireites’ next game is on Saturday, March 11, 2023, when Yeovil Town, just above the drop zone and with only one away win all season, visit The Technique, 3pm kick-off; 1866 Sport will be live at the stadium from 2pm.
Chesterfield (4-2-3-1 to start): Fitzsimons; Sheckleford, Williams, Grimes, Maguire; Oldaker, Akinola; Uchegbulam (Dallas 59), Mandeville, Colclough (Banks 79); McCallum (Quigley 69). Subs (not used): Palmer, King.
Goals: Maguire 14, Colclough 65 (Chesterfield), Cardwell 67 (Southend)
Referee: Scott Jackson
Bookings: Maguire, Akinola, Williams, Fitzsimons, Quigley (Chesterfield)
Attendance: 5,195 (126 from Chesterfield)
Netcoms IT 1866 Sport Man of the Match: Jamie Grimes (chosen by Bron Jenkinson)