Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context  

Gateshead 2 Chesterfield 1 National League Game #45

How do you feel now? All a bit strange! Result? gutted; performance? Solid, very solid; emotion? frustration. We can all pick out key elements when one of our guys should have done better, that’s wouldn’t be too difficult, but the number of times the lads gave their all and did the right things, unlike Saturday’s disaster against Wealdstone, dwarfed the number of times they erred.

Four defeats on the trot after the joy, and those opening words wereexactly the same words (Saturday and Wealdstone apart, they replaced Tuesday and Woking) I used after our last LLLL sequence, when Notts left the SMH with a 2-1 win against a ten-man Town in February last year. Things don’t change a deal.

Like the Magpies match, the performance was there. Like the Magpies match, refereeing calls didn’t help Chesterfield’s cause. Unlike the Magpies match, despite the result being disappointing, it hasn’t defined the season. And don’t let it slip your mind, we’ll renew our battle with Notts next season.

Great start, good tempo, crisp passing, massive chance but Dobra’s shot was brilliantly saved. Then Town were penalised by penalties, well one penalty and one mistake. Harry Tyrer twice adjudged to have fouled Derby County loanee, 18-year-old Dajaune Brown, who’s been incredible since moving to the North East. Wing-back Luke Hannanttwice placing perfectly to the keeper’s left; he only took his first career penalty in February, but he’s now scored six from six, these two putting the Heed on their way to a sixth straight home win.

It was harsh on Chesterfield, who had Paul Cook back on the touchline after another roadside ban (another card will probably mean another miss at the weekend!) They were playing some neat football, certainly the best since the pot, and after the break, virtual dominance, with Gateshead looking to protect their lead which would guarantee an extension to the season for them.

Then came the first time the Spireites ever scored a 103rd goal in a season, or did they? Louis Storey deflected in Liam Mandeville’s 20th NL assist of the season on the hour and the avoidance of a fourth straight defeat looked ever more likely, with Chesterfield’s current form, breaking the all-time scoring record with an own goal seemed apposite.

Gateshead defended well, using their subs to beef up their defensive capabilities and they achieved their likely seasonal goal of making the top seven, in addition to reaching the FA Trophy final. They are a very good side and they play excellent football and I’d like to think that they’ll get their reward in at least one of their battle fronts.

Our journey has taken in 131 away games in the last six seasons. Of those excursions, 53 have been won and 43 lost. From our first NL away win, on our first game at this level at Ebbsfleet United, to our final road win, the critical (and season defining) 2-0 triumph at Barnet, fans have travelled in abundance. We’ve laughed a lot and we’ve cried a lot. We’ve visited places we never expected to visit and never want to visit again. There’ll be two levels between us and Dover Athletic as well as Havant & Waterlooville next season, and whilst there’s always been plenty of downs at Bradford City, Carlisle United, Tranmere Rovers and Swindon Town, at least they are places we know and are familiar with, places that we should be visiting, places that feel proper. Can’t wait.

So just go to (or follow via stream or radio) the Maidenhead United game in a relaxed mode. Enjoy the end of the six-year sojourn, celebrate with the players and management, and be calm in what is, unbelievably, the first game Chesterfield have played in since the Spring of 2019 where nothing (bar pride) has been at stake for either side. Every game in 19/20 was a relegation battle. A play-off place was being chased in every game in both 20/21 and 21/22 whilst the key route into the play-off semi-final was only clinched in the final regulation game last season. Since our coronation, relegation or reaching the top seven has been the target of our four opponents, who’ve edged us out probably because they had to.

We’ve all indicated at some time during the NL and the previous three seasons of EFL struggle, ‘oh for some mid-table obscurity,’ well at the weekend, we’ve gone one better with a bit of ‘top of the table obscurity’. Stay positive, get your season ticket, enjoy the total lack of jeopardy for once and prepare for another season of highs, lows and nail biting. It’s exactly what we crave….. almost as much as a massive win over Maidenhead!

Phil’s Positive: No more NL away days after six years of such clear reminders of the club’s unwanted status.

Next Match: Just the one to go, bogey side Maidenhead United come to the SMH Group Stadium, a ideal end to our final season in the NL, a game against the epitome of our six-year loan as a non-league club. KO 12.15pm, be early, be happy. 1866 Sport is on air at noon and will remain on air for the post-match plaudits.

Chesterfield (4-2-3-1 to start): Tyrer; Sheckleford (Jacobs 86), Williams, Grimes, Clements; Naylor, Jones; Mandeville Hobson (Curtis 90),  Dobra; Quigley (Colclough 77). Subs (not used): Banks, Freckleton.

Goals: Storey og 60 (Chesterfield) Hannant 11 pen, 32 pen (Gateshead)

Referee: Aaron Bannister

Bookings: Naylor, Sheckleford, Tyrer (Chesterfield), Harness, Richardson (Gateshead)

Gaffer PC booked again!

Attendance: 879 (155 from Chesterfield)

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