Four big talking points as Chesterfield book place in National League play-offs with dramatic win against Halifax
The Spireites showed great courage and bravery to book their place in the play-offs with a dramatic late win against Halifax.
Nathan Tyson delivered the knockout blow, scoring the winner with 10 minutes remaining.
Liam Mandeville, who assisted Tyson for the all important goal, also found the net himself in the first-half to give the visitors the lead.
Darren Stephenson equalised after half an hour, but the experienced Tyson, who came on after Danny Rowe went off through illness, pounced from close-range to send Town into the play-offs.
WE ARE SAILING
After eight games of the season Chesterfield were second from bottom and staring another relegation battle in the face. Then along came James Rowe. Six months later the Spireites have sailed up the table and are in the play-offs with a chance of returning to the Football League after three years away.
It has been said that finishing in the top seven is not an ‘achievement’ because of course the overall goal is promotion. However, when you have had five years of absolute dross like Town fans have suffered then it really does feel like something to celebrate.
In the end, they claimed sixth spot and will now play fifth-placed Notts County away on Saturday in the play-off elimination round. Rowe’s men beat the Magpies at Meadow Lane in February and they head to Nottinghamshire full of confidence after finishing the season with four wins from the last five.
Personally, I think it is a good ‘type’ of game for Chesterfield and it is do-able.
Without getting ahead of ourselves, if the Blues can see off Notts, they will travel to Torquay United, who finished second, on June 12.
HOW THE DRAMA UNFOLDED
Town knew a win would be enough to seal their place in the play-offs and it was all going to plan when Mandeville gave them the lead on 14 minutes, finishing at the far post after George Carline’s long throw was flicked on.
Eighth-placed Eastleigh, behind Chesterfield on goal difference before kick-off, went a goal down at Solihull Moors on the half-hour mark which was another boost.
But just two minutes later, back at The Shay, there was a twist. Darren Stephenson pounced on a mistake by Manny Oyeleke to equalise.
Eastleigh conceded a second before half-time, while Wrexham were being held at Dagenham and Bromley could not find a way past Notts County.
At half-time the Blues were still seventh and 45 minutes away from getting the job done, but a goal for either Halifax or Bromley would change the picture completely.
Six minutes after the break Wrexham, in fifth, went a goal down and had a man sent off soon after.
The drama continued and this one was most unwelcome. Bromley had gone ahead. This totally changed the outlook and meant that Chesterfield were out of the play-off places with 25 minutes to go. That goal was also not good news for Halifax.
Then came the big moment, another turning point. Tyson tapped in Mandeville’s cross to put the Spireites in front again with 10 minutes remaining. With Wrexham losing, Chesterfield jumped above them to sixth.
Five minutes added on time at The Shay and a free-kick on the edge of the box for the hosts sent the hearts racing, but finally referee Lewis Smith blew his whistle. Halifax’s players dropped to the floor, while the visitors hugged and fist-pumped.
A late equaliser for Wrexham changed nothing and they missed out to Bromley.
Rowe and the squad returned to the Technique on Saturday afternoon to a warm welcome from around 50 or so Town fans.
It was a beautiful day, and rounded off a memorable week for boss Rowe after the birth of his son Arthur.
As expected, Halifax started brightly in front of their own fans but once Mandeville gave Chesterfield the lead they looked comfortable and were popping the ball about with confidence.
The hosts equalised against the run of play when Stephenson smashed the ball in with a low drive from inside the area following Oyeleke’s mistake.
Both teams had chances before half-time, Jake Hyde slicing wide for Halifax, while at the other end George Carline slipped at the vital moment when in acres of space after Joel Taylor picked him out.
Early in the second-half Spireites stopper James Montgomery made a top reaction save to keep out a header from Neill Byrne, Oyeleke then hooked one off the line before Nathan Clarke went close from the edge of the box all within a matter of seconds.
Rowe’s men responded with Laurence Maguire’s header and Carline’s half-volley bringing saves from opposition goalkeeper Sam Johnson.
Tyson had a chance to score when he was put through on goal by Jack Clarke but Johnson saved, but Tyson was not to be denied next time when he finished from six yards out after good play by Mandeville down the right.
That save from Montgomery, Oyeleke’s goal line clearance and Tyson’s ability to sniff out a goal, proved the difference.
It is still unconfirmed but at the age of 39 and 25 days, Tyson may have become the oldest player to score a league goal for the Blues.
When Tyson tapped home the winner Halifax players appealed for offside but their protests were waved away.
It is not clear whether they thought Mandeville, who crossed it, or Tyson, the finisher, was the man in an offside position but either way the linesman’s flag stayed down.
After the game a frustrated Halifax boss Pete Wild said the decision was ‘scandalous’.
It is difficult to say for certain without seeing a replay.
But, in all honesty, who cares!
(3-4-2-1): Montgomery; Evans, Gunning (c), Maguire; Carline, Weston, Oyeleke, Taylor (Whittle, 46); Clarke, Mandeville (McCourt, 83); Rowe (Tyson, 36).
Unused subs: Whelan, Yussuf.