Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context  

Chesterfield 2 Gateshead 1

National League Match #17

The great thing about football is we can all have our own opinions and they all have some degree of validity (some shout louder, but it doesn’t necessarily mean their view is more valid). I’ve always been a believer in perception being more important than reality, and many will perceive a 2-1 victory over a struggling team is not representative of a great day at work whilst others will think that Bailey Clements was never off-side for Joe Quigley’s second ‘goal’ or that without ex-Spireite James Montgomery between the sticks, Town would have got five. All extremely valid points. 

So was it a good evening at the office, or an adequate one, or would a pessimist say a bad one? I’d err on the side of a good one, but not a great one. Ross Fitzsimons was beaten by a worldy and then had nothing much to do. On another day, with a different view from the flagging area and with a standard NL keeper in opposition, the score could have been very different and the view of many would be substantially skewed, though the performance would have been intrinsically the same, just the goals for column would have differed. A very different potential score, but without doing too much differently!

Gateshead came with their play from the back policy, good to see. Cookie’s boys though pressed them into error far too many times and, as a result, I was very surprised they didn’t resort to different or more gung-ho tactics in the final 15 minutes. Their speed of break, when not pressed into an error, was good, but not good enough often enough, enabling the back line to counter most of the forward motion before it became a major threat. 

The way they played was immeasurably different to what had been faced the previous Saturday and the Saturday before that, but the result (a home win) was the most important consistent factor. 

Quigley’s return at the expense of Kabongo was rewarded with an instant riposte to the initial fine mess Olley had put us in, a great goal followed rapidly by a great move, with Man of the Match Mandeville’s cross in a real peach. The other unforced change saw Tom Whelan make his first Spireites NL start of the season. He covered oodles of ground in his favoured #10 slot and has given the boss some good food for thought. 

The one enforced change saw Bailey Clements make his NL debut for the team and, after a nervy start, he grew into the game and his play both stopped and created, just what a Cook full-back should do. It’s a squad thing.

Ollie Banks, according to Danny Webb’s post-match comments, is set to be out for around five or six more weeks, so Tim Akinola’s return from international duty, plus the form of Mike Jones, emergence of a fit George Cooper plus Jack Clarke and Armando Dobra’s reintegration into the squad after injury means that the midfield department is reasonably covered.

Don’t underestimate the part keeper Fitzsimons has played either. P9 W6 D2 L1 F17 A8, minutes Spireites in front, 473, minutes behind, 8. His distribution has improved no end, and with less than a goal a game conceded, the defensive stats are more than acceptable. Defence may start at the front, but it’s made solid by those at the back. 

The Heed beat us home and away in 2018/19, a relegation season for them, and we didn’t manage a goal in either game, so this result was something of an improvement even if it won’t linger too long in the memory. It was a good way to go into a Cup tie to test the team against an outfit who are exactly a division, 24 places, above Town, though with just one win in six EFL2 games, they are wobbling a little bit. 

With prize money at stake, the FA Cup is always going to be taken seriously by sides that are involved at this stage, there’s no way that Cook & Co won’t want to win it, but the real aim this season is to ensure we start next season’s FA Cup in the first round rather than anything with ‘Q’ in it, so wins at Wealdstone and Torquay in the next two points bearers will be seen by many as more important. But 25 years after our finest hour, the Cup game starts 25 hours after John Duncan’s funeral, so it just feels like our former leader will have ordered a nice 1-0 Bonfire Night win, with the goal bound to be a rocket. 

Phil’s Positive: Well and truly back on the horse after the three straight falls. 

The Spireites’ next game is on, remember, remember, Saturday, November 5, kick-off 3pm, when League Two promotion hopefuls Northampton are in town in the FA Cup. 

Chesterfield (4-1-4-1 to start): Fitzsimons; King, Williams, Grimes, Horton; Jones; Mandeville, Oldaker, Whelan (Akinola 74), Dobra (Cooper 81); Quigley (Tshimanga 74). Subs (not used): Maguire, Clarke.

Goals: Quigley 22, Mandeville 47 (Chesterfield), Olley 20 (Gateshead)

Referee: Gareth Rhodes

Bookings: Magnay, Conteh, Martin (Gateshead)

Attendance: 6,178 (66 from Gateshead)

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