Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context  

Hartlepool United 0 Chesterfield 1 National League Game #22

This match was always destined to be a battle. The date of December 16 in Hartlepool has a major historical significance. Back on that date in 1914, three Cruisers launched a huge seaborn attack on the town, making Hartlepool the first place on mainland Britain ever to be bombed by the Germans. 

Wind the clock forwards 109 years and it was an Albanian who delivered the killer blow in the wind. Step up Our-Man (doh) Dobra to hit home through a forest of legs from the box-edge after an early corner from the guy who sounds like a Frenchman about town, Man de Ville, had been partially cleared. Allies. 

Fortunately, Dobs got his angles and range spot on. Pools’ star gunner, the ex-Spireite Mani Dieseruvwe, must have left his slide-rule in the changing room as he badly misguided two gilt-edged openings, one in the first minute, the other not long after the goal, putting them both wide when the target seemed easier to hit. 

His first effort gave us an early summary of the match. Opening minute, long ball forward, misunderstanding at the back between skipper and keeper, Grimes slips, Mani through, open net, he slips and guides the ball into the advertising hoardings. Lucky escape. Not long after, he’s through one on one, nine in nine in the bank, another dented advert the ultimate outcome. Phew. Captain Jamie told me afterwards that several of his team-mates changed to long studs at half-time and it showed, 

At no stage in the entire stop-start game did Hartlepool manage to get a shot on target, testimony to an extremely strong performance from a team that defended as a team, as all teams should do, with scorer Dobra showing the way with a terrific all-round show all-round the slippery grass. Magnifique as Man de Ville would say. 

The clean sheet was the sixth of the National League campaign. First 11 games, one, subsequent 11, five. Only eight conceded in the ‘second eleven’ compared to 19 in the ‘first 11’ shows that one of the early season causes of concern has been significantly addressed. That’s champion.

There were a few glimpses of #Cookball in the second half, not many (the wind, pitch and a fussy ref were not conducive to such a show), but they were there. The visitors controlled the game from minute 46 onwards, it had been pretty even before the break, but it took another stunning tackle, late on by Tom Naylor on Callum Cooke, to guarantee Town a ninth away win of the season to complete the win-double over Hartlepool this season. The first time that’s happened since 1994/95, a promotion season, whilst the win at Victoria Park was the first since 2013/14, a promotion season! Pattern. 

Dobs’ goal means that Paul Cook’s side has equalled the all-time club record of scoring in the first 22 league-format games in a season, Nicky Law’s 2001/02 promotion winning team were the first to manage that. More patterns. 

The win means that an incredible 28 points have been earned on the road in just 12 trips. Unsurprisingly, Bromley and Barnet are next best, both with 20 from 12, so the Spireites are 40% more effective away than any other team in the section. That’s some stat, as is our occasional Wrexham Watch. Whatever happens against Aldershot Town next weekend, Chesterfield will have racked up at least three more points than the Red Dragons at the half-way stage of the campaign. 

Next weekend, Bromley host fourth-placed Altrincham whilst Barnet have a home derby day with Boreham Wood.

Aldershot have had some bizarre results of late. A 5-3 home defeat this weekend against Eastleigh, they were 5-0 down, whilst in FAC1 they won 7-4 at Swindon Town after being 7-0 up in that one! A win last midweek, at Stockport County in FAC2, shows they are more than capable, and they’ve snuck under the radar to get into the play-off zone of late. 

We had one of our early season basketball games at The Rec at the start of September, a both teams led before Joe Quigley won it on 86, 4-3 the final outcome, and a 16th unbeaten game against the Shots. 

Mike Jones will be available again for selection after sitting out his two-match ban. In his absence, DJ Oldaker has gone about his business quietly and efficiently, helping the team to two wins in those two games. And with Ryan Colclough and Tyrone Williams both close to returns, the squad will be going into the Christmas fixtures in good shape. 

If you were enthused by the youngsters in the FA Trophy win over Southport, a team of academy players will be representing Chesterfield in the Derbyshire FA Senior Cup at Long Eaton United on Tuesday, December 19 (7.45pm kick-off) and 1866 Sport will be there to bring you commentary from 7.30pm, so listen in to see if they can continue their great form. 

Phil’s Positive: Winning a match by winning the battle. Tough, uncompromising, ugly, stop-start, all non-#Cookball features, but nevertheless, the job got done and only rarely did that look unlikely. One-nil away wins when you’re not at you’re best are the best!

Next Match: It’s ‘Wear your Santa Hat’ Day next Saturday, December 23, with play-off chasers Aldershot Town coming to town. Kick-off is at 3pm with 1866 Sport on air from 2pm. 

Chesterfield (4-2-3-1 to start): Tyrer; Sheckleford, Palmer, Grimes, Horton (Freckleton 70); Naylor, Oldaker; Mandeville, Banks (Berry 70), Dobra; Quigley (Grigg 81). Subs (not used): King, Jacobs.

Goal: Dobra 5 (Chesterfield)

Referee: Aaron Bannister

Bookings: Quigley, Oldaker, Dobra, Tyrer, Horton (Chesterfield), Mattock, Brennan, Cooke, Featherstone, Hancox (Hartlepool). Pools’ manager John Askey was also yellow carded.

Attendance:  4,611 (989 from Chesterfield) 

Netcoms IT 1866 Sport Man of the Match: Armando Dobra (chosen by Josh Marsh)