Former Chelsea prospect adapting to life against the bigger boys
Reece Mitchell might be one of the smallest Spireites, but he believes he's getting better at competing against League One's gargantuan defenders.
The 21-year-old rejected the chance to remain at Chelsea in the summer, opting instead to move straight from the Stamford Bridge development squad to senior men’s football at the Proact.
Although his lightning quick pace and trickery were evident from the off, a lack of physical presence showed itself too in his early appearances.
Mitchell played just five games in August and September before playing the same number of times in each of the next two months.
He admits life in League One took some getting used to, after the relative comfort of youth team football at Chelsea.
“There’s a big difference for me.
“Players are a lot smaller at Under 21 but I think I’ve adjusted well now.
“Earlier on in the season I probably played with more nerves than I am now. I feel a lot more confident now, I’m enjoying it.”
One obvious improvement in Mitchell’s game is a newfound ability to avoid being brushed off the ball so easily.
Earlier in the season it was a much simpler task for defenders to dispossess him by going shoulder to shoulder.
In recent weeks, Mitchell has frequently won free-kicks by getting into a better body position and drawing a foul.
He said: “I just have to be smart about it, I’m not going to challenge someone who’s twice my size, but trying to get round them, passing round them and winning free-kicks can benefit us in other ways.
“If I can get my body in the way and they have to foul me, with Jay O’Shea’s great delivery we can get goals from set-pieces.”
Mitchell has had to learn the hard way that what’s at stake when Chesterfield take to the field is of greater importance than the matches he played in while wearing the blue of his previous employer.
He was hauled off the field after just half an hour in the FA Cup against Wycombe, criticised by manager Danny Wilson and left out of the next four games before a return at Port Vale when he impressed.
It’s the significance of the fixtures thathe’s relishing, however.
“It’s a lot more competitive, it’s men, people playing for points and livelihoods so they really do need a win,” he said.
“But it’s more enjoyable, it means more.”