Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context 

Chesterfield 3 Bromley 2 (after extra time) National League Play-off Semi-Final

What a day of varying emotions, with the depths of 90+9 subsequently and massively outweighed by multiple POTY Mandy’s blast and the eventual (has the clock stopped?) final whistle. Out poured mass unbridled feelings across a whole community in a manner that only sport seems to be able to release. We’d done it.

But sadly, in reality, we’ve still done diddly squat. Unless that unleashing of passion can be elevated to an even higher level, next Saturday under Wembley’s iconic arch, apart from a big crowd and a narrow win over belligerent Bromley, the unbelievably phenomenal day will be relegated to a footnote in the worst chapter in the history of Chesterfield Football Club, The National League Nightmare!

We’d all been warned about what could, and probably would, happen by Wood, two-up at the ‘let’s hope they’re not soon to be the world’s oldest league club again’ only for a 90+6 leveller and a 120 minute Magpies steal.

With that game just finished, and ours delayed slightly to ensure the huge crowd all got in for kick-off, the excitement and noise crescendo-ed in a manner that can only be drummed up for such a game, where winning is the only acceptable outcome. Even the hairs on the back of Kojak’s neck would have stood up if he was watching on Telly!

Right from the start, it was clear that both sides wanted to win, as opposed to not lose, and that made for an exciting, though error strewn encounter. Always tense, always tight, and unpredictably stop-start, (let’s hope the person who was obviously unwell rapidly and fully recovers, and the drone pilot accidentally presses the ejector seat button), the game garnered everything bar a penalty and a streaker, though most of the partially clad post-match pitch celebrators did not look at all like Love Island material.

Eleven added minutes in the first half, a shocker in the ninth of them. Rearrange this well-known and frequently used phrase: Of downfall AGAIN own architects our.

Coco helped parity to be restored. From our view, it looked like Dallas flicked in the cross at the near-post, but the goal was clearly an own-goal from the Ravens’ eliminator hero, teenager Deji Elerewe, whose misery was compounded 26 minutes later when he was red-carded for a reckless challenge on Liam Mandeville.

Maybe there should have been a pen for handball, but it mattered not as DJ struck home the free-kick from the box-edge in some style. Job done, 2-1 up against ten, what could possibly go wrong? Fans ready to roll, and even with ten extra minutes, the ten men couldn’t hit back, could they? The Cheek of it. The most prolific striker in National League history swept home shoved up from the back Sowunmi’s knock down. Welcome to Chesterfield!

We’d had 21 minutes of extra time in the 90, the last thing we needed was another 30. As limbs started to fail and nerves started to fray (even more), the man recently crowned as Liam III (three POTY Awards) majestically hit home to SURELY settle it, and with nails no longer intact, fortunately it was the final act for the scorer. Breathe.

Credit to Bromley for showing plenty of footballing ability, with their 707 supporters also being a credit (their previous five visits had seen a travelling high of exactly 100), whilst the massed ranks of home fans also put in an unbelievable show that undoubtedly drove the boys in blue on, especially after the potentially damaging stoppage time concessions.

Notts await us at Wembley. They accumulated 107 points, scored more goals than is good for you, with Langstaff bagging 42 of them. He’s only got one in their last five games, not that such a thing makes a difference as in those five, they’ve knocked in 14 goals from ten different scorers!

County, losers to Chesterfield in the 1981 Anglo-Scottish Cup Final, have twice won play-off finals at Wembley, in consecutive years (1990 & 1991) as Neil Warnock led them from the old Division Three to the top flight. Town, of course, lost to Cambridge United in 1990 but beat Bury five years later and, twice since, have played there in the JPT (won in 2012, came second in 2014).

Ollie Banks is a play-off winner, for Tranmere Rovers in 2019 whilst coach Gary Roberts will be able to talk penalty shoot-outs, he scored the seventh pen in Huddersfield Town’s 8-7 on pens 2012 play-off win over the Blades.

The Bromley win was Paul Cook’s 99th victory as Chesterfield manager. Gaffer, it’s obvious when we want you to reach the century. Just do it!

Phil’s Positive: The team giving every Spireite hope that the club’s place back in the EFL could be just 90 minutes away, the first time in five years in the National League we’ve been able to say that. Eliminators in 2021, semi-final in 2022, final in 2023; progress, but winning the main prize is far from certain. If, on the day, we don’t make it, Chesterfield look to be the strongest side for the 2023/24 NL season.

Next Match: It’s at Wembley, Saturday, May 13, 2023, KO 3.30pm against Notts County in the National League Promotion Final. 1866 Sport will be there, watch out for details!

Chesterfield (4-2-3-1 to start): Fitzsimons; King, Palmer, Grimes, Clements (Maguire 95); Jones (Quigley 90+1), Oldaker; Colclough, Mandeville, Dobra (Banks 86); Dallas (McCallum 86). Sub (not used): Covolan.

Goals: Elerewe (own goal) 58, Oldaker 80, Mandeville 103 (Chesterfield), Marriott 45+9, Cheek 90+9 (Bromley)

Referee: Scott Simpson

Bookings: King, Palmer (Chesterfield), Sowunmi, Cheek, Forster, Fisher (Bromley)

Red Card: Elerewe (Bromley, 76 mins) for foul on Mandeville

Attendance:  9,657 (707 from Bromley)


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