Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context
Dagenham & Redbridge 0 Chesterfield 1 National League Match #42
Win #22 this season. In the last 40 years, Town have only won more games than that in a league season on five occasions. Every time in the last 40 years that Chesterfield have won 22 or more games in a league season, that’s five times, the team has been promoted!
It’s fair to say that none of those seasons have been in a one up plus one more season, but again it outlines that this season has been pretty good. What must Notts County fans be thinking right now, 100 points and seemingly destined for the play-offs?
A tenth away win and a tenth clean sheet for Ross Fitzsimons (five of those in the last six games) in a game that hosts Dagenham & Redbridge never looked like winning, and only in the last attack, when Fitz denied Inih Effiong, did a draw look potentially on.
Paul Cook’s side made a solid start, with all of the three recalled players (Sheckleford, Oldaker and Quigley) looking lively, but at the break, all square was not where we wanted (or needed) to be. Ryheem had a tight hamstring, so Jes came on at right-back and slotted into that position so well, that within about eight minutes, he was on the left wing! That meant Mandy moved to RB and promptly pretended to be Jeff King, popping up on the edge of the six to head home Ollie Banks’ superb delivery.
Prior to that, the excellent Palmer and Grimes dealt well with the lively Effiong and the giant Dutchman Sydney Ibie, whilst the midfield kept the dangerous double act of Balanta and Sagaf extremely quiet. Solid team show, no anxious moments, all the traits required from an away trip.
We could all argue that it should have been easier, it should have been more than 1-0, clearly true. But it could never be a defeat, not for mathematical reasons, but after York, another defeat right now would have been a confidence disaster. That was expertly prevented, a top notch, if not spectacular show.
A much tougher day for me! The software that drives the fancy broadcast gizmos blew up (sorry about the unduly technical explanation), so I had to delete something I didn’t know what it was or where it lived and replace it with something I knew even less about which clearly had no fixed abode and needed finding! After those travails, I managed to fire up some output about 12 minutes into the game. Thanks to those who hung around!
Around 35 miles South West of Dagenham, Woking gave up a lead at home to Southend United. On Saturday, they go to Meadow Lane ahead of trips to the FA Trophy finalists Gateshead and FC Halifax Town, ending the season at home to Solihull Moors. They have a point more than Chesterfield and a three better goal difference, so seeing off Eastleigh combined with a Magpies bounce back will be the results’ combo every True Blue will be looking for at the weekend.
Eastleigh, who were 2-0 and 3-1 up at home to Aldershot Town in their 3-3 draw on Easter Monday, have to go again on Wednesday, hosting Gateshead, needing a win to keep a meaningful advantage over eighth placed Bromley. Whatever their midweek result, they will need at win at The Technique, so are unlikely to bring a spare coach to park on the edge of the box. Always a good thing.
Another brief run-out for Asante and a few more minutes for Dallas as the lone-striker, both elements that will add to the gaffer’s positive conundrums for the run in and season’s extension, whilst Dobra’s return edges ever closer.
Four to go and 12 points is the clear target for the Spireites. Performances are now secondary, we don’t want to listen to the opposition manager waxing lyrical about how we played whilst he’s holding on to a point or three in his pocket. No injuries is another aim to pursue, even a minor tweak now could rule a player out for the rest of the season. That said, the squad is in a good position fitness wise right now, but a couple of bits of bad luck and that could rapidly change.
If you’re of a nervous disposition, make sure you attend / stream / listen to the remaining games with a responsible adult, who (just in case) should also have a nurse or ideally a doctor in attendance. It ain’t going to get any calmer anytime soon.
Phil’s Positive: Solid and controlled, against a team that had to win to maintain their outside chances of making the play-offs. Two hit wood and a top-class tip-over save from no egg, Justham, so it could easily have been a greater margin.
The Spireites’ next game is on Saturday, April 15, 2023, at home to seventh-placed Eastleigh, who have the fewest away wins of any of the teams in the top half of the table. 3pm kick-off; 1866 Sport will be live at the stadium from 2pm.
Chesterfield (4-2-3-1 to start): Fitzsimons; Sheckleford (Uchegbulam 46), Palmer, Grimes, Maguire; Banks, Jones; Mandeville, Oldaker, Colclough (Asante 82); Quigley (Dallas 86). Subs (not used): Horton, Williams.
Goal: Mandeville 71 (Chesterfield)
Referee: Aaron Jackson
Bookings: Effiong (Dag & Red)
Attendance: 1,858 (508 from Chesterfield)
Netcoms IT 1866 Sport Man of the Match: Liam Mandeville (chosen by Phil Tooley)