Tooley’s Take

Tooley’s Take

Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context  

Altrincham 1 Chesterfield National League Match #35

That’s an evening we’ll never get back. Can’t say that I’ll ever recall the game in any future nostalgia event, maybe only one about freak goals. 

The scrappy nature of the match was summed up perfectly by the only goal. A speculative shot from Matty Kosylo that was no problem for Scott Loach, who got down in anticipation to gather, only to see the ghost of Shane Warne pop down to Greater Manchester, a mile or two away from his infamous Ashes introduction, and cause a Mike Gatting style deviation that took the ball way off-line and into the net. A massive direction change, but no goal of the century moniker for this, pitch not player was the causal factor. 

The dire nature of the evening was mirrored on our journey home. The M56 was shut which led to some choice chundering, followed by a puncture on the motorway diversion, not repairable, no spare wheel as is the modern way, so a long wait for a resolution and pillow hit at quarter to three. Just what no doctor would have ever ordered. 

Indeed, if any of the magnificent 784 travelling supporters nipped into the delightful town centre for a responsible drink after the game, the refreshment that would make the match seem brighter in retrospect was not on sale in any of the many splendid bars. Truth be told, I’m pretty sure it’s not yet been invented.

To add to the general malaise, Jim Kellermann picked up his tenth booking of the season so will miss Notts and Grimsby, our next two tough encounters. 

I reckon Chesterfield’s first effort on target came in the 62ndminute, a Jamie Grimes header that was blocked on the line, whilst googly goal apart, Loach had precious little to do. 

The game was based on a Chuckle Brothers scenario, to me, to you, with ‘me’ wearing blue and white and ‘you’ in theUkraine colours of yellow and blue (Alty’s second strip and the players came out to the strains of the Ukrainian National Anthem, nice touch). Sadly, nothing to laugh at on the park, and trying to force a smile hurt your mouth muscles as you knew you didn’t really want to do it.

In fairness, the defence played a solid game, with Grimes and Laurence Maguire repelling most attacks before they even started, and the least they deserved was a clean sheet. 

But further forward, the quality of deliveries, Spireites had 11 corners and lots of attacking free-kicks plus open-play crossing opportunities, was sadly lacking. 

No bad misses, no great saves, no woodwork rattling, no penalty shouts, very little to warm the hearts of the travelling army.

What rankles as well is the team has a superb away record this season, but the three travelling NL defeats have all been against lower half opponents, Woking (14th), Altrincham (15th) and Maidenhead United (18th). 

On the parks of the top half teams this season, seven games have spawned 13 points, just shy of two per game, with no defeats, and what’s more telling is that those three away losses have all come in Tuesday night games. 

How many times do we joke about highly skilled players and add ‘but could he do it on a miserable Tuesday night in ***** (add name to suit!)? 

Next up, a Saturday game at a lofty team. Sounds a doddle!

Phil’s Positive: I’ve had a fair bit of time since the referee’s final whistle to find a positive, and I’m still struggling. Getting home in one piece after picking up a motorway puncture is probably the only positive

The Spireites’ next game is at Notts County, on Saturday, March 26, kick-off 3pm. Can’t get to watch or don’t have access to the televised stream? Listen in on 1866 Sport from 2.30pm.

Team v Altrincham (4-1-4-1 to start): Loach; King, Grimes, Maguire, Whittle; Kellermann (Weston 79); Rowley (Miller 63), Khan, Mandeville, Asante; Quigley (Whelan 66)

Subs not used: Williams, Gunning

Goal: Kosylo 48 (Altrincham)

Referee: Greg Rollason 

Booked: King, Kellermann (Chesterfield), Pettit, Ferguson, Osborne (Altrincham)

Attendance: 2,042 (784 from Chesterfield)