Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context

Solihull Moors 0 Chesterfield 0 National League Match #30

There was a barrage of F-words in the 1866 Sport commentary spot on the final whistle. Frustration, Finishing, Fuming…. they rolled off the tongue after a match that Chesterfield found themselves in enough positions to have won the remaining 16 games this season.

It wasn’t so much about missing chances, but more about missing the chance to create the chances. The chances that were created were generally defended by Moors’ men in fine style, life on the line stuff, not a great deal of six-yard box profligacy, a bit, but nothing excessive.

But the frustration came from the sheer extent of the volume of times the boys in blue got behind the chim-chim-cheros and didn’t end up creating a chance, or got to the A1 crossing position and flat-lined or ballooned it, or created an opportunity to shoot, but didn’t, or didn’t test more than solid keeper Ryan Boot from any of the nine corners or wide free-kicks that were also plentiful.

Sadly, we didn’t learn much more about Paul McCallum as, at the sharp end, he wasn’t serviced in a manner that could have realistically seen him score against his former employees. His aerial flicks and pressing activity were fine, but I’m struggling to remember a decent ball into him in any dangerous areas. Goat or not, creating a feeding frenzy is fundamental.

At the back, bar a moment of nail-biting when Ash Palmer led in the man who mauled us for Maidenhead last season, Josh Kelly, who shot wide when he should have done better (#1 chance of the game, missed), there was plenty of solidity. Jamie Grimes won everything against Big Beck, Dallas put in a shift that saw him cover miles of ground, but mostly tracking back to supplement his defence, and the lively Sbarra was more than adequately caged and couldn’t escape his markers.

Looking at the Spireites’ performance from a considered rather than an emotional viewpoint , there were plenty of enjoyable elements in the match. In the blue corner, Armando Dobra, the Albanian Arrow. In the yellow (often carded) corner, Jamey Osborne, the Solihull Box to Boxer, who also frequently advises referees on the finer points of the laws of the game. Darting versus Dark Arts. A brilliant watch. Dobs won on points, and after the Solihull-born midfielder picked up a yellow, the duel subsided and Osborne actually played some great football.

There was another great battle on the undercard. Subs Ryan Colclough versus Alex Gudger. The left-winger added extra-oomph to Town’s cause and twice found himself in great positions only to be denied by the extra centre-back Neal Ardley introduced, one absolutely stunning in-the-box tackle followed a little later by an incredible block. They weren’t misses, they were top drawer elements of the art of defending. Colclough had a third chance, well saved by Boot, having looked for a split-second that it may win the game.

Ryheem Sheckleford continued his fine form at right-back as did Tim Akinola, who told me afterwards that he loved the physical element of this game (and he did promise me that he would shoot more and bag six goals by the end of the season!).

A first NL clean sheet on the road (and only the second of the season) since the win at Oldham Athletic on the first weekend of September, but we are still seeking the first three-point trip of 2023 (and after this week’s two home games, there’s a run of five aways in six), but it’s the lack of potency up top that’s causing consternation. For a team that was averaging two goals a game up to the New Year, only four have been scored in the last seven games, earning just six points.

Only Wrexham have won more home games that Town this season, so we need to ensure the games with Wealdstone and Oldham this week generate six points to ease our fretting, but let’s also not forget that whilst we’re bemoaning a point at Solihull, our key rivals Woking and Barnet both lost their away games against teams lower down the table than The Moors, so ground was gained. Third place is still in our own hands.

Part-time Wealdstone are again playing above themselves. They’re tenth in the table despite seeing last season’s top scorer Josh Umerah leave in the summer for Hartlepool and this season’s still top scorer Rhys Browne join Woking back in the Autumn. They aren’t free-scoring, only Boreham Wood in the top-half have scored less, and they’re the highest placed team with a negative goal difference. Their attack is one that falls into the nippy category rather than target man style, so it looks like there’ll be plenty of rapid counter-attacking to worry about.

Paul Cook, who likes to be loyal to his players and maintain a level of selection stability, will be looking at some of Saturday’s starters and contemplating changes in some areas. Oldaker and Colclough both looked lively off the bench and it looks like Clements is fit enough to be considered, so with games coming as regularly as misjudged Chesterfield crosses, I predict a change or three for the visit of the Raiders from Ruislip.

Phil’s Positive: Clean sheet plus quality of play everywhere bar the area we really want to see it.

The Spireites’ next game is on Tuesday night when Wealdstone visit the Technique Stadium; 1866 Sport will be providing exclusive coverage as usual, with the pre-match build-up starting at 7pm.

Chesterfield (4-2-3-1 to start): Fitzsimons; Sheckleford, Palmer, Grimes, Horton; Banks (Oldaker 82), Jones; Dobra (Quigley 82), Mandeville, Akinola (Colclough 64); McCallum. Subs (not used): Williams, King.

Referee: Ed Duckworth (plus assistance from others!)

Bookings: Banks, Jones, Sheckleford (Chesterfield), Osborne, Howe, Donowa, Maycock (Solihull)

Attendance: 2,045 (586 from Chesterfield)

Netcoms IT 1866 Sport Man of the Match: Ryheem Sheckleford (chosen by Josh Marsh)