Whilst every football manager will send his team into battle desperate for a win, there’s no doubt that Paul Cook will have been happy with a draw at Barnsley before, during and after the game.
Spireites’ point, on a day when Swindon Town was the only team in the top half of League One to win, in essence knocked Lee Johnson’s side out of the play-off equation and took his own side a point closer to what’s now looking a really achievable target.
Defeats for Bradford City, Peterborough United and Fleetwood Town significantly reduced their chances of a season’s extension.
Whilst not mathematically certain, two wins from Chesterfield’s final four games looks like it will suffice.
Six more points would take last season’s League Two Champions to 70 for the season. Closest rivals Rochdale, who have a game in hand, sit on 60 points with a superior goal difference after their draw at Doncaster.
To reach 70, Keith Hill’s side, who stepped up alongside the Spireites last season, would need to win three and draw one of their final five, games against Swindon Town, Leyton Orient and MK Dons at home plus trips to Gillingham and Oakwell; possible, but a tall order.
Spireites host Colchester United tomorrow in one of the games supporters will have ticked off as a win, but the U’s are battling for their lives at the wrong end of the table.
They lost 1-0 at Coventry City at the weekend to leave them next to bottom but just three points off safety with a game in hand in a really tight battle where any three teams from eight could join Yeovil Town on the way to League Two.
Ian Evatt will be Cook’s only man out. He’s unlikely to have recovered from the rib injury that saw him withdrawn in the first half of the Barnsley game, his experience in getting over the line in similar circumstances will be severely missed but his deputy, Charlie Raglan, has been exceptional when used this season, his first in league football after his summer acquisition from FC United of Manchester.
Raglan will link up with Sam Hird, who’s enjoying a purple patch of form of late. After the Oakwell match he said: “We were disappointed to have conceded a goal but considering the weight of pressure we came under in the second half when we had to cope with a lot of long balls forward and we were camped in our own half for long spells, I think we coped really well.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow night former Doncaster centre half Hird added: “All games are tough in this league, every team has good players and we’ll have to be on the top of our game to get the win and the three points that would almost cement a play off place.
“But time will tell, we’re not there yet, we’ll see where we are at the end of the Sheffield United game, touch wood we’ll be in the play-offs and then it’ll be down to our squad and our senior players to keep our cool.
“At the start of the season I’d have taken being four points clear with four games to go and a home match against Colchester then an away match at Oldham to come.”