Gary Caldwell questioned his players’ desire to do the basics, yet again, after another defeat for his side.
Town were beaten 3-1 by Rochdale and now have just six games to overcome a 10-point gap if they’re to avoid the drop.
In the first half today the Spireites went 3-0 down and looked completely out of their depth against an organised and confident Dale.
Caldwell said: “First half, again, massive disappointment, not enough energy, not enough first contacts, not enough winning second balls.
“We didn’t play in the right areas and conceded poor goals and then gave ourselves a mountain to climb again.
“I can’t put my finger on it. I said you need the basics of football, running, tackling, winning headers, they’re a given at any level.
“Too often we don’t do it, we don’t turn up for matches, we don’t turn up for the big moments.
“It costs you and once the game is away from us, to then start knocking the ball about in the right areas and doing the right things, it’s not going to win you football games.
“I always take responsibility, I’m not just blaming the players. But we work extremely hard to provide them with a lot of information.
“Unfortunately we can’t do certain things for them.
“It isn’t tactical, it isn’t formation. The goals we lost, it isn’t tactical, it isn’t formation. It’s just desire to stop the ball going in your net, to get up the pitch.
“We haven’t got that in the big moments.
“It’s going to be a long process.”
The second half saw an improvement, and a Kristian Dennis goal, but Caldwell was in no mood to praise his side.
“I just said to the players, second half, I’m not saying well done for that because the game is over 90 minutes and it was too little, too late again,” he said.
“I asked the players at half-time, do they really want to play? They all said yes and I said on the first half I’d question it.
“In the second half I saw a team that wanted to play and if the header goes in, I think we can get something from the game.
“There has to be a better commitment from minute one, at 0-0.
“You keep working, you keep asking more of the players and we keep pushing them in training.”
Stoppage time saw a sending off for David Faupala who appeared to kick out at Rochdale’s Joe Rafferty.
Caldwell wasn’t happy with that incident, but Faupala’s aggression is something the manager believes can be an asset for the team.
“I didn’t see it but I said to him he needs to play on the edge, because that’s the best I’ve seen him since he came to the club.
“He threw centre-halves out of the way, he ran forward with intent, he won headers, so I said he has to learn the lesson that the sending off is unacceptable, but I liked what I saw in terms of how he played on the edge.”
There was one positive for Caldwell today, the performance of 17-year-old debutant Joe Rowley.
The teenager has been tipped for big things by the manager.
“Fantastic,” said Caldwell of the youngster’s showing.
“He’s the future and I’m delighted we have him at this club. At the age he is, to get his first game and to show his composure and temperament and hunger for the game, I was delighted with him.
“He will get better with every game he plays.”