Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context
Chesterfield 3 Southend United 2 National League Match #8
King Jeff, the third. Wasn’t it always going to be the case? We’ve had proclamations around the UK for the last few days and there’s no doubt I would have walked five hundred miles to see a game like this and I would have walked five hundred to witness a goal like that. A royal strike to crown a game that reached the pinnacle of football highness in the Palace of Whitt Moor.
After the enforced weekend break, Town came out of the traps well, playing the ball quickly to feet, all over the park, and looking as slick as at any time this season. It came as no surprise when Jack Clarke fired Paul Cook’s side in front, lovely team goal. The ninth different scorer in eight games. #Cookball.
With around 25 on the clock, Southend won a series of corners and put the Chesterfield goal under a bit of pressure, and they then equalised when a route one boot was latched onto by Callum Powell, who’d missed a great chance a little earlier, but no mistake this time.
After that setback, the industry of Liam Mandeville and the strength of Joe Quigley were instrumental in getting their side back on track, only for there to be an impending Banks holiday when the Pony-tailed Pirlo was adjudged to have gone in rashly and the referee deemed his tackle to be dangerous, so it was man down just before the break.
My view was a bit Arsene Wenger, so I’d need to see it again to make any informed comments about it. Right or wrong, all-square with 10 v 11 for 45 minutes was not the ideal background for Cook’s half-time coffee and chat.
With Quigley having one struck off for a marginal off-side, much talk over the half-time cuppa was based around the officials, never where you want to be. Best being unnoticed.
Less than a minute after the re-start, it all went a bit Sound of Music, with the Spireites needing to climb every mountain (you can tell I had a few days in Austria last week) as United debut maker Marcus Dackers scored.
There was a hint of off-side about that goal, and at that point, every Spireite in the noisy crowd (noisy, apart from the pin-drop silence of an impeccable minute ahead of the game, for Her Majesty) would have snapped your hand off for a draw.
But we all should have known that things are very different right now, all for the right reasons. Big Joe persisted and battled, burst through and round and set off the fans’ new anthem, with an in-off-the-post beauty before the King’s thrown his left boot at the ball to ensure Chesterfield’s reign at the top of the table would continue.
Post-match, former Southend United player Danny Webb declared it as the Goal of the Season already! It was some strike, angled, outside the box, hammered, underside of the bar and over the line. A real jewel in the crown.
A fourth yellow though for King, one more in the next 15 games and he’ll have to abdicate for at least one match, but we’ve already seen the strength of the squad with players like Miller and Clarke coming in and maintaining the strength of the team.
Ryheem Sheckleford will be every bit ready when he’s called upon. Unless there’s something to appeal, Banks’ absence will give the likes of Tim Akinola or Mike Jones the opportunity to shine and I’m sure they will fill Ollie’s boots admirably.
Plenty of nail-biting followed before the final whistle and, by my reckoning, the last time we were level, had a man sent-off, fell behind and came back to win was at Meadow Lane in 2011 in the JPT, when Lee Johnson saw red at 0-0,.
County scored just before the break and we went on to win 3-1 and then win that competition. Mirroring that and going on and winning this competition will do nicely, thank you!
With the other three in the division’s top four all winning, digging deep to make it four in a row and four out of four at home was pretty important.
Despite the trials and tribulations, this win felt the sweetest of the season to date, possibly even eclipsing the fine win over the Princes of Wales, which was very special.
Plenty to hang our hats on, with Akinola and Uchegbulam’s promise again looking excellent, Covolan made some great reaction saves – he’s not had to do too much so far – whilst we now know what to expect from Oldaker week in, week out. Don’t we all feel a bit spoiled at the moment?
Yeovil Town next up. Chesterfield’s recent record against the Glovers: WWWWWW, including a run of WWWW at Huish Park. Chris Hargreaves has taken over the managerial hotseat this season and his eight games in charge have seen just one win, four draws and three defeats with seven scored.
Nothing can be taken for granted, but the team will be going there in fine fettle and extremely confident.
Whatever your individual views, we’ve all had a few days of reflection and, for many, there are more melancholy days to come, but the incredible minute’s silence which preceded 90 plus minutes of joyous, non-stop noise, resulting from seeing two opposing teams of players serving their loyal followers to the maximum, shows that belief, dedication and community spirit can be a wonderful therapy for many an ailment.
For every Spireite, this match was something to behold, confirming that the new Cook era is alive and very, very well.
Phil’s Positive: Never-say-die attitude and a wonderful spirit to come back, short-handed, from being behind to bagging maximum points. Fist-pumping stuff, one that will remain in the memory bank for a long, long time.
The Spireites’ next game is at Yeovil Town on Saturday, September 17, kick-off 3pm. Can’t get, or even going? Full match build-up on 1866 SportLive starts at 2pm, so listen via the App, Smart Speaker or On-Line.
Team v Southend (4-2-3-1 to start): Covolan; King, Williams, Grimes, Horton (Maguire 84); Oldaker, Banks; Mandeville, Clarke (Uchegbulam68), Miller (Akinola 60); Quigley.
Subs (not used): Gyasi, Cooper
Goals: Clarke 19, Quigley 63, King 69 (Chesterfield), Powell 33, Dackers 46
Referee: David Richardson
Booked: King (Chesterfield), Miley, Clifford (Southend); Chesterfield boss Paul Cook also received a yellow card
Red Card: Ollie Banks (Chesterfield, 45 mins)
Attendance: 6,269 (274 from Southend)
Netcoms IT 1866 Sport Man of the Match: Liam Mandeville (chosen by Steve Williams).