Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context  

Boreham Wood 0 Chesterfield 2 National League Game #15

Has this been as good a week as Chesterfield have ever had in the National League? Does it feel a bit surreal to be able to see six changes and then five changes and witness two totally controlled victories? Is it too early to be feeling just a little bit smug? Have your thoughts changed from being hopeful to being assured?

It just feels as though a little corner has just been turned. Not based on two clean sheets. Not based on the thought that the previous run of predominantly wins was a tad too nail biting. It’s based on what I’ve witnessed against the two belligerent ‘B’ teams: Bromley and Boreham Wood. Two outstanding examples of delivering the manager’s aims of press press press pass pass pass.

No opposition will beat you if they don’t have the ball in dangerous positions, every opposition will mentally and physically tire in such circumstances, and you’ll simply wear them down and assert control to deny them any likelihood of hitting back once you’ve taken the lead.

The match at Meadow Park, on a carpet of a pitch on which Town have never previously won, didn’t reach some of the heights of Bromley four days earlier, but in its way, it was even more effective, even more controlled. Wood had a couple of spells of pressure, Grimes, Williams and co denied them any spells of shooting and Luke Garrard’s side seemed to run out of ideas.

Whilst Nathan Ashmore wasn’t peppered anywhere near as much as he was in this fixture last season (which Town lost), he had much more action that the semi-redundant Tyrer, but there was nothing he could do to keep out Spireites two goals, one in each half.

Ryan Colclough, who’d been a bit under the weather in the week, had an excellent first half and his was in was seemingly blocked, but somehow he delivered an inch-perfect cross for Liam Mandeville to head home in some style having ghosted in unnoticed. Fine goal.

Ashmore didn’t have to worry too much about Will Grigg’s pen just before the break. The ball was last seen just near the International Space Station. In retrospect, in a way I’m glad that didn’t go in, as at 2-0 at half-time, Wood would have almost certainly switched to gung-ho, but at 1-0 they didn’t, and Town’s control continued. Just reference Barnet at Dorking a little later, 2-0 down changes your approach and is generally much harder to defend against.

No palpitations ahead of Joe Quigley’s confirmation of victory goal, turning in Micheal Jacobs’ ball from close range (he has a goal every 74 minutes of pitch time this season). Let’s just hope Joe’s ankle isn’t too bad, though even with ten men for the final minutes, the Blues remained in total control.

A week featuring two stress-free 2-0 wins, fine defending, intelligent midfield play and solid finishing when dominating possession and territory. No raw excitement like Dorking, Halifax or Hartlepool, but a satisfaction level that just confirms what many are thinking, that Chesterfield really are the best of the bunch, plus they have the deepest squad in the division. I’ve said it before, but this team and its management really are the real deal.

A bit of a rest from the NL with the FA Cup fourth qualifying round coming up. Kettering Town at home next Saturday. The Poppies hold an FA Cup all-time record, they’ve scored more goals in the competition than any other team! They’ve been around a very long time, playing their first FA Cup game in 1896 against Newton Heath, who evolved into Man United, and they beat Chesterfield in a replay at Saltergate in the competition in 1901.

The following season, the Spireites needed two replays to see them off in the Bass Charity Vase! No competitive meetings then in over 120 years, so almost certainly the longest gap between meaningful fixtures we’ve ever had with any team, though we played them in friendlies at their former Rockingham Road ground in 1991 and 2009, losing both games!

They’re having a bit of a rough time at the moment having been relegated to the Southern League Premier Central at the end of last season, the same division that Mickleover and Long Eaton are in. On their books is one of the most successful loan players we’ve had on Whittington Moor, Leon Clarke, who’s now 38 years old.

I suspect plenty of changes again, but whatever XI Paul Cook puts out, we should have enough to ensure our place in the hat for the draw for the first round proper.

Phil’s Positive: The relative ease of the victory. No panics, no palpitations, no doubts.

Next Match: Saturday, October 14 in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round. Southern League Premier Central side Kettering Town come to the SMH Group Stadium for a 3pm kick-off game. Coverage starts on 1866 Sport at 2pm.

Chesterfield (4-2-3-1 to start): Tyrer; King (Jacobs 79), Williams, Grimes, Horton; Naylor, Jones; Mandeville, Dobra, Colclough (Banks 83); Grigg (Quigley 74). Subs (not used): Berry, Sheckleford.

Goals: Mandeville 34, Quigley 84 (Chesterfield)

Referee: Greg Rollason

Bookings: Coxe (Boreham Wood)

Attendance: 1,512 (499 from Chesterfield)

Netcoms IT 1866 Sport Man of the Match: Branden Horton (chosen by Lee Francis)