Chesterfield remain unbeaten at home but are held by Aldershot Town as National League title race hots up

Chesterfield remain unbeaten at home this season but were held to a frustrating goalless draw against Aldershot Town.

By Liam Norcliffe
Sunday, 23rd January 2022, 10:29 am

Here are some of the main talking points from the game at the Technique Stadium on Saturday:

FRUSTRATING

This was the first time the Spireites have failed to score at home all season but they are still unbeaten on their own turf. The effort and commitment was there but the final pass or finish was missing, which is a surprise given how clinical they have been this campaign. Chesterfield started the game slowly but grew into it and finished the first-half on top without creating any clear-cut chances. Debutant Joe Quigley came closest with two headers off target. The hosts had plenty of efforts at goal after the break – a volley each from Tyrone Williams and Akwasi Asante, Quigley’s powerful shot forced away stopper Mitch Walker to parry and then Laurece Maguire headed on target from the resulting corner. Later, Kabongo Tshimanga fired over from inside the area which was a decent chance by his standards. After that, there were moments of pinball in the Aldershot box but the ball would just not drop to someone. Town have won ugly many times this season but this was a game too far. At least, unlike at Maidenhead, they made sure they took a point from the game at the very least. They go top, but not exactly how they would have wanted.

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Tom Denton returned against Aldershot after a year out with injury.

STYLE

Looking at the comments on social media after the match it seems people’s grumblings are more about the direct style of play rather than the actual result. The Blues did go longer with new boy Quigley the target man but the stats shows that they have been going more direct this season anyway – and it’s clearly worked. The reason it probably didn’t have as much success here was that the balls up to Quigley were straight and from central positions which made it easier to defend, rather than angled or from out wide. When the latter happened, Quigley got across his marker and got two headers towards goal. The frustrating thing was that when the returning Tom Denton replaced Quigley, there were times when they turned down the chance to put the ball into the box for him to attack. I think the newer lads need to watch a ‘Big Tom’ highlights reel! After the game James Rowe explained they took the longer approach because of the ‘unacceptable’ playing surface. He explained that it was very bobbly and he didn’t want them to take any risks in the midfield area and be countered on.

THREE-PRONGED ATTACK

It was a surprise to see Quigley, Asante and Tshimanga all in the starting line-up but it showed a signal of intent. Unfortunately it didn’t really work on this occasion, but that is not to say it can’t in the future. Asante was the deeper of the three, playing the number 10 role, but he couldn’t get to grips with it. He looked a little bit lost and didn’t link the play. But, in fairness, he was surrounded constantly and put under pressure by the hardworking visitors. There wasn’t much of a partnership between Tshimanga and Quigley, but again it’s very early days and it would be extremely harsh to criticise too much. Overall, in my opinion, the three of them played as individuals, not on purpose, but that’s what happened. The chemistry will come with more minutes together.

DEBUT

Quigley was announced as a Spireites player on Friday night and he went straight into the starting line-up. For someone who can’t have trained much with his teammates I thought he did quite well. He was penalised harshly for some aerial challenges but he put himself about, won headers and got himself into potential scoring positions. I think he can be satisfied overall. He will give them a different option.

‘YEAR FROM HELL’

The biggest cheer of the afternoon came on 82 minutes when Denton came off the bench for his first competitive appearance in a year after two bad knee injuries. It was a great moment and I thought it was written in the stars that he would score the winner but it was not to be. You could see the panic in the Aldershot backline and he made a nuisance of himself in classic Dents style. He will be a great option in the second-half of the season and I would back him to win Chesterfield some points between now and May. Hopefully he can stay clear of injury now, he doesn’t half deserve some luck. After the game he wrote on Twitter: “Special reception that to come back to after the footballing year from hell!”

WRITING ON THE WALL?

Rowe says a ‘small group’ of players have been made available for loan and Nathan Tyson joined Alfreton for a month before kick-off. There was no place in the squad for Jak McCourt or Stefan Payne which probably suggests they might leave as well.

ROUND-UP

As well as Denton, Joe Rowley was back among the subs. He has not played for the Spireites since last May following a loan spell at King’s Lynn Town and an ankle injury which kept him out for three months. Rowe is keen to cast his eye over him before deciding whether he can make an impact now or whether he needs another loan. Meanwhile, Laurence Maguire started for the first time since October following a calf problem. With Jamie Grimes left out for ‘tactical’ reasons, Luke Croll gave a good account of himself in the middle of the back three and Rowe singled him out for praise post-match. Curtis Weston got my vote for man of the match.

TEAM

3-4-1-2: Loach; Williams, Croll, Maguire; King, Weston, Khan, Miller (Whittle, 55); Asante (Mandeville, 66); Tshimanga, Quigley (Denton, 82). Unused subs: Kerr, Rowley.