Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context  

AFC Fylde 2 Chesterfield 4 National League

After last week’s last-gasp 4-3 win over Dorking Wanderers, I suggested it was a perfect game for both optimists and pessimists. Having won at AFC Fylde, incidentally the first ground we’ve ever won our on first four visits (thanks for the help Stuart Basson), I’ve copyrighted a new word; Chesimists.

Never ever before, that’s ever, not just since football was invented in 1992 when the Premier League was formed, has any Town side scored at least four goals in the two opening fixtures. Not a bad stat. For comparison, last season saw the free-scoring Reynolds express started with a 2-1 and a 1-1 (seem to remember they lost Game #3) whilst Langstaff’s lot opened with a 3-0 and 2-2.

I know we were mullered for long periods in the second half at Mill Farm, sub Jon Ustabasi ran us ragged at times, but he was introduced just after we’d gone 4-0 up and the hosts just went into a gung-ho mode several notches above standard gung-ho.

The sub’s goal, running direct at our defence, from his own half to score, reminded us all of one of our undoubted Achilles heels, and Monday’s wash and brush up by Paul Cook and his backroom staff will indubitably analyse that and demonstrate the errors to the relevant personnel.

Fylde’s second came on 86 to reduce the deficit to two. With just four minutes plus what turned out to be a bargain basement six more (seven were actually played because Davis, who’d headed the second, was dismissed); give me a two-goal lead, away from home, with 11 to play and I’d snap your hands off every time.

We drooled at Banks’s ball, Grimes’s tee-up and Williams’s goal, then Horton’s pass, Dobra’s turn and Mandeville’s third of the season, followed by Grigg’s anticipation and poaching instincts and, after a break to drink in the opening 45, Mandeville’s pinpoint delivery and Colclough’s hammer in front of 1,200 adoring Spireites. Then we moan about Fylde hitting the bar, having two cleared off the line and forcing Tyrer into some more than decent saves. Chesimists R’Us!

‘We don’t half make things difficult’ were my first words to Danny Webb post-match, and he agreed, as we began the interview with all the disappointing elements in the game which, may I just remind us all, we scored four in, and were 4-0 up and coasting before the Coasters (who won 5-1 on their last appearance at home) turned up. Even me, one of life’s natural optimists, was a bit Chesimist.

Whilst #Bazball may have been in evidence again, there were some great #Cookball moments in the game (edit: in the first half). Ryan Colclough was immense and Liam Mandeville seems to have stepped up even more following his multi-platinum campaign last season. Chuck in Armando Dobra, and neither opponent has managed to deal with that triumvirate, and with Will Grigg getting his first, that end of the park, backed up by Quigley, Jacobs, Hobson and Berry, looks like we all want it to look like.

Conceding five (despite scoring eight) in two games is, of course, a concern. We will come up against sides that are better than Dorking and Fylde, who’ve only picked up one point between them, and that will make it harder to score and add to the likelihood of more chances being created by the more able opponents.

Whilst it’s clear and obvious that defending is a whole-team exercise, it’s always the back-four that come under the most scrutiny when leakage is too high. That department has seen no summer recruiting, so we currently have eight back-four players, all the same as last season, when the team conceded just 52 goals in 46 games at 1.13 a game average. Return to that level, which is still a tad high for a potential Champion club, and things will be fine.

It’ll be interesting if the gaffer looks to change his side for our first ever visit to Oxford City, plastic pitch and all, bearing in mind second favourites Oldham Athletic visit our grass next weekend.

The Hoops lost 1-0 at home to Rochdale on Saturday (784 was the crowd) having been beaten 5-2 by Aldershot Town on the opening day. The Shots, of course, lost 5-1 at Oldham this weekend confirming what we all know about the Irrational League.

Looks like it could be another attendance that has as many away fans as home supporters, the Blue Army at Fylde looked and sounded great, and more of the same on Tuesday could well help make it a hat-trick of victories to maintain the winning run and set up a televised corker against the Latics.

Phil’s Positive: Two games, six points, eight goals, five different scorers, five different assistors, division’s top scorer.

Next Match: Tuesday, August 15 will see the Spireites visit Oxford City and their artificial surface for the first time, with a 7.45pm kick-off. 1866 Sport will be there from 7pm.

Chesterfield (4-2-3-1 to start): Tyrer; Sheckleford, Williams (Palmer 46), Grimes, Horton; Banks, Naylor; Colclough (Jacobs 70), Mandeville, Dobra; Grigg (Quigley 70). Subs (not used): Berry, Oldaker.

Goals: Williams 6, Mandeville 37, Grigg 45+4, Colclough 49 (Chesterfield), Ustabasi 75, Davis 86

Referee: Paul Cooper

Bookings: Horton, Dobra, Grigg (Chesterfield), Bird, Philliskirk, Walker (Fylde)

Sending-Off: Davis – two yellows, second on 90+6 mins (Fylde)

Attendance: 2,395 (1,163 from Chesterfield)

Netcoms IT 1866 Sport Man of the Match: Liam Mandeville (chosen by Ryan Boot)