Chesterfield picked up a bitterly disappointing result against Southend, in a game which I thought illustrated the tale of Chesterfield’s season thus far.
Gavin Tomlin returned to goal-scoring form to score Southend’s first goal in nearly six and a half hours of League Two football, and seal a snatch and grab victory for Paul Sturrock’s men. Southend are now sat in the final play-off place, four points clear of the Spireites.
The way I anticipated this game was that, if Chesterfield won it, they’d go on to be promoted!
Despite the importance of the clash, both teams started timidly. Southend were devoid of ideas and they looked for the taking, but their ever reliable defence asked the Spireites the question: ‘can you break us down?’
Our answer was unconvincing as both goalkeepers had only a couple of commendable saves to make. In the last week of the transfer window, Southend could be looking to feed the squad with creativity, whilst Chesterfield are still trying to piece together their attack, and have no left winger.
On 27 minutes, Tommy Lee held onto the ball for four seconds – this was the first little spark of patience after a scrappy opening!
From then on, Chesterfield dominated the game, with Marc Richards firing a few feet over the upright, before hitting a 30-yard free-kick against the bar. Chesterfield were patient in a 20-minute spell just before half time. However, as is a common denominator of this season, Chesterfield failed to score in a large spell where they were in the ascendance.
Jay O’Shea, who was sensational in the 3-0 win over Northampton, couldn’t get into the game.
Tendayi Darikwa has been either the supplier or the scorer in 10 of Chesterfield’s last 27 League goals, so it was a big blow when he had to leave the field with half an hour remaining.
With no wingers, Chesterfield were devoid of ideas to break down a solid Southend defence, because everything played down the centre was gobbled up by Southend’s centre-backs.
The Spireites are struggling to conjure chances, but there have been signs in recent weeks that Marc Richards and Jay O’Shea have an understanding.
This could be for nothing though, as these two and Armand Gnanduillet aren’t going to get into the same 11, unless Paul Cook reverts to a diamond formation.
When Drew Talbot comes back, I think he could be pushed onto the right-wing, with Tendayi Darikwa switching to the left hand side.
I suspect Paul Cook will stick with the 4-2-3-1, but I’m very interested to see whether he’ll pick Armand Gnanduillet or Marc Richards up front, especially with the Rotherham clash coming up!
Chesterfield deserved three points for dominating the game, but lost. Like against Accrington, Barnet, Wycombe, Fleetwood, and so nearly Morecambe, Chesterfield conceded the odd goal and lost.
Paul Cook was gutted that this brittleness of Chesterfield in this division returned. It was an all too familiar story: the Spireites got increasingly desperate for a goal; they looked far off finding it, and in turn, they became ‘loose’ as they tried to force the winner.
In reality, I should be writing about how Chesterfield were the miles better team, and can easily catch up Southend with over a third of the season to play.
The defeats must be further motivation as the Spireites have averaged worse than a defeat every three League games so far!
Chesterfield have collected over a third of their points against the top five, highlighting that they are one of the best footballing sides in the division.
Although, when we get a foot-hold of games, usually against struggling sides, we force the opposition back, so much so we cannot break them down. It’s like in a cup tie - arguably lesser sides weather our dominance and catch us cold!
I saw AFC Wimbledon play the other night, and they played a lot more attractive football than Southend, yet they’re at the foot of the table! Incidentally, AFC Wimbledon are the next visitors to the Proact Stadium, in what I think will be a majestic football match.
In my opinion, Chesterfield can still finish third.
Chesterfield’s season hangs in the balance, but basically they are only six points off the automatic promotion places, and there are over 50 points still left for grabs! All-round striker Armand Gnanduillet came on very late on, nonetheless, he looked powerful, made himself busy and very nearly scored an equaliser.
By Jonathan Kirby