Liam Norcliffe's Chesterfield FC column: The Spireites are slowly improving - but I'm still not fully convinced yet

Chesterfield collected a creditable point on the road at Ebbsfleet United on Saturday to extend their unbeaten run in the National League to four matches.

Sunday, 3rd November 2019, 12:10 pm
Ebbsfleet United 2 v 2 Chesterfield, Scott Boden pictured for the Spireites.

The recent improvement in results will be a big relief for boss John Sheridan who says he is not getting carried away and does not believe they have turned a corner just yet.

I am of the same belief as I am yet to watch a full 90-minute performance which has left me thinking that the Spireites should be challenging much higher up the division.

There have been patches in matches for 20 minutes here and there where they have looked a decent side but they are yet to do it for a full match in my opinion.

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The Notts County game was probably the best all-round performance, particularly defensively, while some of the football they played away at Wrexham was encouraging and their finishing in front of goal at AFC Fylde was impressive.

The players themselves say they are working harder in games which is positive to hear but also a little alarming.

Where was this work ethic at the start of the season? Did they think they just had to turn up? Were they fit enough at the start of the campaign?

I have said it before in this column but as a professional footballer work ethic should be a given.

If as a player you are having a bad day on the ball, that should still not stop you sprinting, tracking your marker and winning your headers and tackles.

All these things are happening now but come the end of the season the slow start to the campaign could really cost the Spireites one way or another.

The midfielder in front of the back, whether it be Sam Wedgbury or Jonathan Smith, allows the wing-backs to go forward and gives the defence some protection if the opposition counter.

There have been some good individual performances in the last couple of weeks as well.

I thought Haydn Hollis was superb against Notts County and although he gave a penalty away at Ebbsfleet on Saturday he quickly redeemed himself by heading an equaliser to make it 2-2.

Young Jay Sheridan’s set-pieces have proved useful, although his passing and positioning need some work, but at just 19 that is always going to be the case.

Joe Rowley seems to be finding some consistency on the right-wing after a difficult start to the season where he was asked to play in a number of different positions including right wing-back. The 20-year-old is definitely someone who should be scoring more goals and getting more assists with his technical ability.

Smith was excellent against Notts County and Curtis Weston is getting a good run in the team now.

There is strong competition for places in attack with Town having lost only one in seven of the games Tom Denton has started in the league, while Mike Fondop has eight goals and Scott Boden seven. Anthony Spyrou is still finding his feet after injury but is a good option off the bench.

The league is very tight with Chesterfield currently three points above the relegation zone and nine off the play-offs having played one game fewer than some of the teams in the top seven.

There is no game for Town next Saturday because it is FA Cup first round weekend.

It is a shame that The Blues will have to wait until November 16 before they are next in action when they face Chorley at the Proact.

Given that Sheridan’s men have some momentum the break has probably come at a bad time but it will give them a chance to put some hard work in on the training ground and come back refreshed for the game against the league’s bottom side.

On the other hand there is a bit of an illness bug around the squad at the moment so the break will allow some players to recover to full health.

I would imagine Laurence Maguire, who is due to start full training this week, will be available again and Wedgbury might not to be too far away either.

After Chorley Chesterfield finish November with trips to Harrogate Town (6th) and Aldershot Town (19th) either side of a home game against Hartlepool United (13th).

They will need to pick up a strong return of points in those games because on paper December could not really be any harder as they face Bromley (1st), Torquay United (5th), Solihull Moors (9th) and FC Halifax Town (3rd).

You would have to think that those games will decide whether Chesterfield will go into 2020 with a realistic chance of getting into the play-offs or whether it will be another campaign of struggle.

On the possible takeover, both the local consortium and the club are remaining tight-lipped but I am led to believe that talks are still ongoing but neither want to say anything until there is something concrete to report.