BT Sport pundit backs Chesterfield to overcome Torquay United in televised clash
League leaders Chesterfield host last season’s play-off finalists Torquay United in front of the BT Sport cameras on Saturday (5.20pm KO).
The Spireites remain unbeaten after seven games, winning five and drawing two.
They face a Torquay side who suffered heartbreak in the play-off final last season and who have got off to a slow start with just two wins so far.
However, the Gulls scored in the last-minute to beat Southend United 1-0 last time out so they will have an extra spring in their step when they arrive in Derbyshire.
Ahead of Saturday’s televised encounter we spoke to BT Sport pundit Adam Virgo for his thoughts on the clash...
Are Torquay suffering from a bit of a hangover from that play-off defeat last season?
“Yes, I put the National League play-off final on par with the Championship play-off final in terms of what it means to a club. Not in terms of finances but the relief of getting out of the league because it is such a difficult division to get out of.
“I have noticed with a lot of sides who lose in the final they find it difficult to go again in the National League.
"Even though I think you would have said that Torquay would be competitive, I think they overachieved last year in terms of what their expectations were.”
What have you made of Torquay’s recruitment?
"Losing the play-off final is a sore one to take and then I do think the players they have then subsequently lost has been a big void for them to fill.
"The players they have brought in are probably not as good as what they had last year but they have still got Danny Wright, Connor Lemonheigh-Evans and Armani Little so they have still got players who can affect the game but they are still nowhere near as strong as what they were last year.
"But on the other side you have to respect that they have a very good manager in Gary Johnson who knows this level very well.
"I think the play-offs for them this season would be exceptional but I think they have lost matchwinners from last season which I don’t think they have this season.
"However, on their day, they are a side who can beat anyone.”
You backed Chesterfield to win the league before the season started, do you still think that?
"To be honest with you, I think I have only guessed one winner of the National League in the last nine seasons!
"This is a long, hard season and you will get up and down periods.
"I think the signing of Kabongo Tshimanga was the game-changer for me.
"I think Chesterfield are pretty much covered in every position if they get any injuries. I think James Rowe can replace like-for-like and not weaken the team.
"The only unfortunate thing for Chesterfield is that you are only allowed five subs.”
How do you think Torquay will approach this game?
"When I see Torquay play Gary Johnson is very good at organising them when they don’t have the ball. I know we have not seen it this season but they try to be disciplined without the ball and I think that is something Chesterfield will have to work around. Torquay may sit a bit deeper to try and stop the space in behind for Tshimanga to run into.
"When Torquay play teams with pace in behind they play slightly deeper and have 11 behind the ball in their own box 35-40 yards from goal so I think Gary Johnson will be aware of Chesterfield’s qualities and I think he will try and frustrate them as much as possible.
"Set-plays will be important, they will look to put it into for Danny Wright and Joe Lewis and Alex Wynter has a long throw so they will use that as well.
"I think it will be a physical game that Chesterfield will have to be up for, every time you play against Torquay you have to match the physical side of things and the work-rate and then you earn the right to play.”
What type of game do you think it will be and what is your prediction?
"I expect it to be a tactical game and it is just how Chesterfield break down Torquay. Can they work the space to get the wing-backs into play and get crosses into the box or play little through-balls to Tshimanga? If they can do that then they will have success but if they don’t you’ve got to understand the physical side and the press.
"Gary Johnson does sometimes surprise you with a high press early on and then they drop off for five minutes and then they go again. Instead of pressing for the first 15 minutes, they might not press for the first five minutes and then all of a sudden you are being pressed on.
"I think Torquay have to get it right tactically if they are to get anything. They are going to be a dangerous side to play against and I think it will be a good test for Chesterfield.
"Chesterfield go into this game confident, playing well and winning well.
"If Torquay can come away with something then you feel maybe they could turn a corner and get a little run going.
"I can’t see Chesterfield losing, in my opinion, at this moment in time but it is still a very tough game for them but they should go into it with confidence and get the job done.
"I am going for a 2-1 Chesterfield win.”