Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context: Alfreton Town 2 Chesterfield 0 Pre-season friendly.
What did we learn from the Spireites’ 2-0 loss at Conference National North side Alfreton Town?
- Football is much, much better when fans are present.
- Jonathan Smith is going to be a key player.
- Jamie Sharman is ready to start regularly.
- There’s still a long way to go before the opening game at Wealdstone.
Looking at each of those points individually; that pesky Covid meant fans weren’t allowed into the Impact Arena, which made for a non-existent atmosphere. Professional football is all about the fans, the game is for the fans and not having any there makes it substantially less intense and infinitely less exciting.
People say that a low-key competitive game is ‘like a pre-season friendly’. This low-key pre-season friendly was like a training game, lacking in passion, thrill and spills and that wasn’t solely down to the fare on show. Well done to the dozen or so Spireite fans standing on Alma Street peering over the wall and through the gate! The gathering included someone who managed to sneak into an infamous behind closed doors game in Hungary, Mark Barton, but he was unable to manage the same in Derbyshire.
Half of Chesterfield’s shots in this game came from Smith. Bearing in mind that he bagged a brace at Belper, ‘Smudge’ looks like he’ll be the key box-to-box player this season. Milan Butterfield will clearly be the holder with Liam Mandeville or Joe Rowley the #10 and the 33-year-old looks fit and ready to roll and perform that vital roll with energy and urgency. Of the starting XI, he was one of the few that shone on the day.
Sharman only came on with 20 minutes left and he slotted into the right centre-half (of three) role, normally he’s played in the middle. He won headers, tackles, ran with the ball and produced the pass of the day from a blue-shirted player, putting Luke Rawson one-on-one only to see his effort strike the post and the follow up saved by the keeper, who was injured in the process. Combined with his performance at Belper, where he set up Smith’s Worldy, if he doesn’t start against Guiseley next week, I’ll call for a public enquiry.
I’m not one to worry too much about pre-season results, it’s more about getting fit and getting team shape there or thereabouts, but having only played two games and with Curtis Weston & Nathan Tyson yet to turn out, as assistant manager John Dungworth admitted post-match, we’re well behind many other teams.
At Alfreton, it was the 38th minute before Spireites first shot on target whilst the hosts scored two and hit the bar as well, looking match sharper for the first half, though Chesterfield did look the most likely second half scorers until Jake Day converted with the game’s final kick. The shape looked right for the players but on the day of Ashgate Hospicecare’s annual fundraising walk, there was a severe lack of Spireites sparkle!
Phil’s Positive: It was short and sweet but Sharman’s a star waiting to shine.
Now the Negative: No fans, made the game feel meaningless.
Chesterfield’s next game is on Saturday, September 26 at The Technique Stadium with a 12 noon kick-off.
Team at Alfreton Town (3-5-2 to start): Letheran; Yarney (Sharman 70), Evans, Hollis (Maguire 70); Cropper (McKay 70), Butterfield (Hutchinson 74), Smith, Mandeville (Rowley 63), Buchanan; Boden, Denton (Rawson 70)
Goals: Alfreton: Jones 41, Day 90