Four big talking points as Chesterfield concede three times in first-half against National League title contenders Hartlepool United
Chesterfield suffered their first defeat in seven away matches after conceding three times in the first-half against title contenders Hartlepool United.
An early goal from Rhys Oates on five minutes put the hosts ahead, Josef Yarney put through his own net for a second and Luke Armstrong added a third.
Fraser Kerr scored his first goal for the Spireites in the second-half but overall the visitors were well beaten.
The first-half was uncharacteristic for a Chesterfield side under James Rowe. They gave away some poor goals, too many individuals made mistakes, were overrun in midfield and they offered nothing going forward. Credit to the hosts because they pressed the Spireites into making errors, they moved the ball forward and quickly and could have scored more. There is no shame in losing to a team who were 15 unbeaten before kick-off, it is the first-half performance that is the most disappointing part and they gave themselves a mountain the size of Everest to climb.
Hartlepool probably took their foot off the gas at three-nil up but Town showed some fight when they could easily have thrown the towel in. They changed shape and they had more joy in midfield. Substitute Liam Mandeville, who came on at half-time, made a big impact and he grabbed an assist when Kerr headed in his corner with half an hour to go. Mandeville went close twice from the edge of the area and the visitors looked a different side. A second goal would have made it interesting but there is no doubt the better team on the day won. They key takeaway from this is to learn from that first-half because these two sides could meet again in the play-offs.
Centre-back Gavin Gunning missed out with an ongoing hamstring problem and he was missed massively. His absence meant that Yarney started and Kerr played in the middle of the back three. Both Yarney and Kerr had a nightmare first-half, the former scoring an own goal and the latter looked shaky and uncomfortable on the ball. With no Gunning in the side. Kerr was the man tasked with bringing the ball out from the back but Pools pressed him and forced him into rushed clearances. Credit to him for improving and scoring after the break, but Town need Gunning back quickly.
After the game Rowe said Hartlepool looked like a team who had not played for two weeks, which is exactly the case. Pools were due to play Weymouth on April 24 but with both clubs without a game on the final day of the season because they were set to play Dover Athletic and Macclesfield Town respectively, the fixture has been moved to May 29. This will allow fans to attend and for Pools to play on the same day as their title rivals. It is a valid point which Rowe makes, though, as this was Chesterfield’s fifth match in the last 14 days and the games are starting to catch up with them.
(3-4-1-2): G. Smith; Yarney, Kerr, Maguire (c); Carline, Weston, Oyeleke, Taylor (Mandeville, 46); Clarke (Mitchell, 82); Rowe, Tyson (Rowley, 56). Unused subs M.Smith, Whelan.