Tooley’s Take

Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context  

Stockport County 2 Chesterfield 0 National League 

Apparently, this was a game of two halves, but in truth I’m already struggling to remember either of them! The first half was low-key with defences on top and only one shot on target for each side, whilst the second half was pretty much the same, punctuated with a couple of goals for County. 

County’s opener, which came the hour after Spireites most adventurous spell of the game, albeit not quite invasion football, was shrouded in controversy. Not the goal itself, a dink into the box by John Rooney for left-back James Jennings to bag his first goal for the club, but the throw that started the move clearly should have been awarded to the visitors. Haydn Hollis’s boot did not provide the last touch before the ball went out, James Rowe indicated that the linesman awarded the throw to Chesterfield only to be overruled, and the manager also pointed out a similarly incorrect call a couple of minutes earlier.

Dodgy throws and Edgeley Park go hand in hand! Back in 1993 in the Autoglass Trophy, after the Spireites had deliberately kicked the ball out of play so a County player could be treated, home player Paul Williams launched the throw into the box and a late winning goal resulted. For those of you who like a bit of trivia, Williams was the son of a Nobel Peace Prize winner (Northern Ireland’s Betty Williams) and he subsequently married the Stockport chairman’s daughter. You can see I am battling to try and think what to write about this weekend’s game!

Chesterfield pushed for the equaliser and they spent a fair bit of time in the County half, but the fluency and crisp passing we have become used to was not quite there. Plus, after two games in quick succession following on from an isolation spell, there were clearly signs of fatigue in the Spireites’ camp, completely understandable. 

The key second, controlled well and finished with aplomb by Alex Reid, was teed up by what should have been a headed clearance, but it didn’t quite work out that way and the contest was all but over, as was County’s goal drought, which had lasted over eight hours before the opener. 

That second goal also meant this was Chesterfield’s first National League defeat by more than an odd goal since the 3-0 loss at Notts County on February 1 last year. Of course, the team has lost by more than one goal since then, in the replayed FA Cup tie at, you already know, Edgeley Park. Thankfully, we’ve now completed our obligations for the season against the Hatters. Or have we? It would be good to play them again at the end of the season! We have got a 100% record against County (home and away) in play-off games. 

That loss at Notts 13 months ago was followed by back-to-back home wins (Wrexham & Ebbsfleet) in which seven goals were scored and the five games after the Meadow Lane trip spawned 10 points, an average of two per game, ironically exactly the same return as Rowe’s 24 from 12 so far.

We may all be a bit down in the dumps now, but a win on Tuesday night against eight game unbeaten Eastleigh (W5 D3) will see all of the positive vibes rapidly return. 

Phil’s Positive: Six points every three games for the rest of the season will do nicely, plus Tom Whelan’s suspension is served. 

Chesterfield’s next game is on Tuesday, March 2 at home to Eastleigh in the National League, kick-off 7.45pm. 

Team v Altrincham (3-5-2 to start): G.Smith; Evans, Hollis, Maguire; Carline, Gunning (M.Smith 77), McCourt (Mandeville 68), Weston, Taylor; Asante, Dinanga (Yussuf 77). 

Subs (not used): Clarke, Whittle

Goals: Jennings 60, Reid 81

Ref: Adam Herczeg

Yellows: Hollis (Chesterfield), Jennings (Stockport)