Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context 

Chesterfield 4 Maidstone United 0 National League Match #46

Objective One: Sadly failed, mainly due to Lord Admiral Wrexham’s 111 points. Objective Two: Achieved, thanks to a run of 2.23 points per game following the nine winless matches in the aftermath of the Baggies excitement. Objective Three: Just two wins needed, that’s all, achieve that and next Sunday would be Paul Cook’s 99th win as Chesterfield manager, so reach the ton and we’ll be back home. Objective One by the back door and dancing under Nelson in Trafalgar Square!

Talking of potential milestones, this is my 150th Tooley’s Take, and judging by the many comments I receive, plenty of you seem to like my ramblings, for which I’m eternally grateful. Similarly, the congratulations I’ve had since being given an award at the end of season do have been heart-warming, thank you.

Take #1 was penned (in reality, keyboarded) after the 3-2 pre-season win at Belper Town at the start of the no fans campaign. Only Liam Mandeville (congrats on the fully deserved hat-trick of POTY Awards) and Laurence Maguire of those that played are still here, and my positive that day was the performance of new signing Milan Butterfield. Times have changed a fair bit in three seasons. For the better, I may add.

Were you nervous going into the Maidstone match? I wasn’t. Were you nervous at half-time? Probably a teensy-weensy. Were you nervous when Andrew Dallas scored the opener at virtually the exact same time that Woking took the lead at Solihull Moors? Definitely not.

This game was all about scoring first and having battled for 45 minutes pre-break against a stubborn Stones side, whose starting line-up featured six (as described on Maidstone’s official website) defenders, that early goal in the second half was just what was needed by the team and the magnificent soon to be bouncing crowd.

The attendance meant that this season’s only home fans average is a stunning 6,516, over 150 higher than the home fans average in the first season at our new home in 2010/11, the previous best, and that was in a League Two championship season. Back slapping all round, and even more for those that have already committed to season tickets for the next campaign.

Many, particularly since Kabby’s departure, have bemoaned the lack of a 20-goal striker. Well, we’ve got one. Dallas’s opener was his 19th in the NL this season, making his second #20, despite many stats sites saying 19.  He definitely scored at Wealdstone, but the person who supplies the info for the gurus (sponsored by Specsavers) erroneously called it an own goal. Shame on you.

Ryan Colclough’s goal was his 14th of the season, a fantastic return for a midfielder, and you have to say that the recruitment of these two players has helped the squad to kick-on enormously, and end the regulation season in more than decent nick.

Thanks to my nephew Danny (@dpearsoncfc) who popped a last 12 games of the season form report on Twitter, the six teams in the play-offs have picked up the following points in the final (just over) quarter of the season: Chesterfield 26, Notts 24, Bromley 20, Woking 20, Boreham Wood 17, Barnet 15. Put that into context, 26 points in 12 games is the equivalent of 100 points in a season (still third then).

Whilst Armando Dobra’s return to the team after injury was no surprise, and the hour or so he got augurs well for the play-offs, the big selection surprise was Bailey Clements coming in at left-back for the first time in two months, and he did his chances of retaining the shirt no harm at all, scoring with a fine finish to register his third goal in ten NL starts and winning the plaudits of many supporters for his overall performance.

My 1866 Sport co-commentator Jamie Hewitt picked out Jamie Grimes for his Netcoms IT Man of the Match, based on a flawless first 45, when Maidstone threatened and Chesterfield passed well but only occasionally exposed the opponent’s defensive capabilities. After the break, with much less defending to do, his distribution and leadership were excellent. Clements, Mike Jones and the two-goal scorer were all in the mix, and you could easily make a case for many others for their second half shows. Grimes (our first outfield ever present since Tendayi Darikwa) alongside Ash Palmer at the heart of the defence, have overseen six clean sheets (and seven wins) in the final ten games. That will do nicely.

A full 46 game season under Paul Cook, the first Town gaffer to oversee a full 46 game season since a certain Paul Cook in 2014/15 (says a lot about why the last few years have seen many struggles) and a final points tally of 84, equal to the tally achieved in Chesterfield’s last promotion, nay championship, season in 2013/14, under a certain Paul Cook. Bit of a theme there I’d say. Right man, right time.

Cookie doesn’t rely on luck, chance or similar things that us mere supporters know is vital to any match outcome (lucky pants, hazelnut yoghurt before a trip down the M5, Walking on The Moon by The Police on the radio or similar vital events) but we need it to be third time lucky in the NL lottery. We’ve done the eliminators, we’ve done an away semi-final, now we just need the momentum that’s undoubtedly there to carry us over the line and take us to the Promised Land of Field Mill next season.

Phil’s Positive: Going into a home play-off game with a Technique record in the last three matches of W3-2, W5-1 and W4-0, the first time on Whittington Moor we’ve won three consecutive home games scoring at least three goals in each game. No wonder the place was bouncing!

Next Match: The Spireites move into the semi-finals of the NL play-offs, taking on either Woking or Bromley on Sunday, May 7, 2023, at the Technique Stadium, 3.30pm kick-off; 1866 Sport will be live at the stadium from 2.30pm.

Chesterfield (4-2-3-1 to start): Fitzsimons; King, Palmer, Grimes, Clements; Jones (Akinola 73), Oldaker; Colclough, Mandeville, Dobra (McCallum 62); Dallas (Quigley 76). Subs (not used): Maguire, Uchegbulam.

Goals: Dallas 52, 67, Clements 58, Colclough 90 (Chesterfield)

Referee: Sam Mulhall

Bookings: Mandeville (Chesterfield), Berkoe, Fowler (Maidstone)

Attendance:  9,105 (145 from Maidstone)

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