Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context
Chesterfield 1 Coalville Town 3 Isuzu FA Trophy Round Three
Am I bovvered? Do I look bovvered? I’m sure plenty of Town fans will be a tad hacked off, and I fully appreciate that, no one wants to lose, especially at home to a team a fair bit lower down the football pyramid. I’m not hacked off.
Last season, a glamorous day out at Wembley after brushing aside Gloucester City, Folkestone, Stockport County, all played on Saturday afternoons, but Wrexham lost in the final to Bromley and, more importantly, six days later, they lost at home to Grimsby Town in the play-off semi-finals which meant they have entered the FA Trophy again this season.
Am I disrespecting the competition? No, but like many of us used to say about the JPT in its many guises, ‘you want to win it or get knocked out at the start.’ Of course it’s a winnable competition and of course a Wembley final is phenomenally memorable, but we’d all rather be playing across the M1 next season that turning right at the end of it onto the North Circular.
Progression would not stop the possibility of promotion, elimination will not guarantee it, but on balance, I’d rather the likes of Banks, Clarke and Asante put some fuel in their tanks and we can enthuse about the performances of academy youngsters such as Wilkinson, Dolman and Duhameau, than work out the logistics of a trip to Banbury, by car, coach, rail or white horse. I’m sure the club’s officials will be able to make use of the blank Saturday afternoon in the middle of next month.
Did I want to see Chesterfield win the game? Of course I did! Am I disappointed they lost? Not at all, and ironically, I seemed to enjoy the game more than many, almost exclusively due to the showing of players from Neil Cluxton’s academy.
Coalville, victors at Meadow Lane in the FA Cup this season, had a more than decent team with plenty of experience. Defender Chris Robertson plus strikers Billy Kee and two-goal Ash Chambers have oodles of EFL experience between them, and their colleagues (particularly the right siders Dean and McGlinchy) could play and wanted to play properly. Their fans were also a credit to the club, giving a great performance in E1 and E2 in numbers greater than the vast majority of NL visitors to The Technique!
I’ve seen a few academy games this season and Alexander Duhameau (17) has always been one I noticed, but always as a striker, so his position on the left of the three attacking midfielders was a little different to what he’s used to. With his teammate Jack Dolman (18) behind him at left-back, that pairing coming up against Dean and McGlinchy down the Ravens’ right, gave those of us in The Van Yard (West) Stand a contest to relish in the first half. The unfettered confidence of youth playing at a level they had not previously experienced against a couple of time served experienced campaigners. All four gave their all, all four should be proud of their evening’s work.
Centre-back George Wilkinson’s name will enter the record books, I don’t think there’s a dubious goal panel operating in the Isuzu, I called an OG on 1866 Sport, but the 19-year-old was in the right vicinity and his 90-minute performance deserved the reward of a goal. Off the bench, Sam Hooper, was the pick of the bunch. A buzzing central midfielder who won tackles, found space to be an outlet for his teammates and passed the ball to a blue shirt every time. Job done.
What were the main objectives of the likes of the first team squad players involved? Was it win the game at all costs or get some valuable minutes in without getting injured? Could well have been both of course, but I’d hazard a guess that the latter was the main desired outcome.
Not every attendee at the game will have been as content as me, I get that, but back at home, nibbling on a honey roast ham sandwich (roasted perfectly by me!) as the latter stages of Independence Day played out on Film 4, not a single teardrop fell into my mug of English Breakfast. Scunny home and away, Baggies in the main cup and the prospect of a NL game on January 14, 2023 suits me fine.
Seasons’ Greetings in what we all hope is a season of success. When we kicked off back in August, no Spireite will have had holding the FA Trophy aloft at Wembley at the top of their wish list.
Phil’s Positive: Gas in a few legs, some potential from the youngsters, no fixture congestion.
The Spireites’ next game is on Boxing Day at Scunthorpe United, kick-off 3pm. 1866 Sport will bring you full coverage starting at 2pm. Happy Christmas!
Chesterfield (4-2-3-1 to start): Covolan; Sheckleford, Wilkinson, Maguire, Dolman; Banks (Hooper 64), Akinola (Blakeley 64); C.Cook, Clarke (Mitchell 79), Duhameau; Asante. Subs (not used): Chadwick, Booker, L.King, Moss
Goals: Wilkinson 18 (Chesterfield), Chambers 11 & 51, McGlinchy 22
Referee: Sam Mulhall
Bookings: Blakeley (Chesterfield)
Attendance: 2,107 (286 from Coalville)
Netcoms IT 1866 Sport Man of the Match: Zander Duhameau (chosen by Jamie Hewitt)