Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context

Chesterfield 1 Yeovil Town 1 National League Match #36

My morning Twinings has been mugged, a bit like it felt when Ryan Law headed in an unexpected equaliser just before the break. I certainly didn’t see it coming and, after a couple of minutes to shake away the shock, I anticipated a bit more of a fight back from the injured party.

But with the pink and purples having parked their bus in a Snake Pass snowdrift, the road was well and truly blocked and sadly, Town couldn’t find the keys to their snowplough. One more push would have freed up the blockage, as would playing as a team and putting in a shift like the fantastic game saving, shovel wielding volunteers did earlier in the day.

The first half, mugging apart, was decent enough, though there were some disappointingly frustrating moments, particularly around the halfway line, trying to do a fancy flick when all that was needed was a bit of non-pretty pragmatism.

The pressing of Yeovil’s typically Mark Cooper short goal-kicks was excellent, ex-Spireites keeper Grant Smith reminded us what we missed when he departed and the running with and without the ball of the attack-minded home players was encouraging, the final ball was (again) lacking somewhat, but with just one point in the previous four Technique tasks, there was bound to be some anxiousness.

Then a miracle, a penalty. Looked nailed on hands by Reckord from my viewpoint, and thankfully the assistant saw it to inform the referee, in charge of only his second ever game at this level. His first saw him red card ex-Spireites Mike Fondop for Oldham just before another former Blue, Manny Dieseruvwe, scored the game’s only goal for Halifax. It was our first penalty of 2023, duly despatched in the fans’ favourite blast down the middle sort of way by Paul McCallum.

Up to that point, the Glovers had shown little of their attacking prowess, but when forced to open up, they shoved the Law-man further up the park and he wasn’t adequately policed, drifting unseen into the box to nick an unforeseen equaliser. It was his first goal since scoring an extra time effort at Birmingham City for his parent club, Plymouth Argyle, in January last year, to earn an FA Cup tie at Stamford Bridge, the goal being on the same day we were playing at Chelsea.

After the break, it was more ripple after ripple rather than wave after wave of Chesterfield attacks. The tide was moving in the right direction, but there were no cowabunga moments to get the crowd carried away. Talking of crowds, another fantastic attendance.

Taking out the Yeovil contingent, there were 6,740 home fans, so that means this season has seen a home-only (NL) average attendance of 6,333. To put that into perspective, the 2014/15 League One play-off season’s home-only average was 5,580 and the 13/14 championship season was 5,888. Only the inaugural, shiny new stadium, Championship winning, attack at all costs season has seen a higher home average, and that was 6,357, just 17 more than this season in the NL. That is incredible. The fans and the Trust all need to be recognised for the part they are playing.

One point nearer our objective, two points down the drain, meaning the 600+ round trips of the new week have added pressure. Wealdstone have won three on the trot to sit just three points off the play-off zone and Woking are unbeaten in six at home, and they sit six points above Chesterfield in that coveted third spot. Our Tuesday game at Grosvenor Vale is our game in hand, so win that and win at Woking, and it’s all-square on points and games, so the week’s task is simple to work out, difficult to achieve.

I think PC will shake things up a bit for the next game. Central midfield was a bit flaky, and I’d be looking to try and accommodate Mike Jones in there to steady things up. Tuesday will be game #37, meaning it’s deadline day for ten yellows, so Jeff King’s last tightrope walk, so maybe he’ll be sub again to mitigate the risk.

Whoever the gaffer selects, they need to be up for it a bit more than in the flat pancake day 1-1 draw with the Stones last month and they need to be a bit more measured than against Yeovil in another frustrating 1-1 home draw this weekend.

Phil’s Positive: The quality of the pitch, thanks to the ground staff and volunteers, and the wonderful big screen show by the children of New Whittington Primary School, becoming the first youngsters to announce their team using BSL (British Sign Language). Our community is thriving.

The Spireites’ next game is on Tuesday, March 14, 2023 (subject to the weather), when we travel to Wealdstone-under-Water, 7.45pm kick-off; 1866 Sport will be live at the stadium from 7pm.

Chesterfield (4-2-3-1 to start): Fitzsimons; Sheckleford (King 71), Williams, Grimes, Maguire; Oldaker (Banks 71), Akinola; Mandeville, Dallas (Quigley 84), Colclough; McCallum. Subs (not used): Uchegbulam, Horton.

Goals: McCallum (pen) 34 (Chesterfield), Law 43 (Yeovil)

Referee: Dean Watson

Bookings: Oldaker (Chesterfield), Staunton (Yeovil)

Attendance: 6,893 (153 from Yeovil)

Netcoms IT 1866 Sport Man of the Match: Liam Mandeville (chosen by Jamie Hewitt)