Kabongo Tshimanga haunts old club Boreham Wood as Chesterfield climb above National League promotion rivals
Facing his former side for the first time since his summer move, Tshimanga won a penalty which Danny Rowe converted before scoring a wonderful second before half-time.
It was a day for players scoring against their old clubs as ex-Spireites captain Will Evans halved the deficit in the second-half but it ended on a sour note for him as he was sent off late on.
Victory means that is three successive wins for Town and just one defeat in 12 so far this season.
As expected, this was a tight affair given both teams had only lost once before kick-off and were separated by just two points in the league.
The hosts started brightly and moved the ball around neatly with some nice switches of play, Laurence Maguire tried his luck from distance and then Gavin Gunning glanced a header wide from Jeff King’s cross.
Town looked more threatening and took the lead on 20 minutes when goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore brought down his former teammate Tshimanga in the box and Rowe smashed in the resulting penalty for his fifth goal of the season.
To their credit, Boreham responded and had some territory in Chesterfield’s half and won a flurry of corners.
Jacob Mendy Mendy’s strike brought a good save from Scott Loach down to his right but the visitors failed to create a clear-cut chance.
Calvin Miller was forced off injured ten minutes before the break after suffering what looked like a dead leg from an earlier challenge from Evans and he could not continue.
Then came a moment of magic from Tshimanga for the crucial second shortly before half-time. Crowded out on the edge of the box and with his back to goal, the striker showed tremendous strength to hold off his marker before creating half a yard for himself to rocket one in. That was his tenth goal in 12 league games. Money well spent!
It was a scrappy, uneventful start to the second-half but then it burst into life just after the hour-mark.
Liam Mandeville smacked the woodwork from distance, a trademark Rowe blockbuster whistled just wide and then there was almost a comical own goal from Evans which Ashmore scrambled off the line and injured himself in the process.
It was the Blues who were pushing for a third until Evans tried his luck from all of 30-plus yards and his powerful drive slipped through the fingertips of Loach to halve the deficit on 67 minutes.
Flashbacks to Bromley and Torquay started to invade the mind but Chesterfield did not let it affect them and actually looked the more likely to grab a third than concede at the other end.
Overall, it was a hard fought win against a team who had the best defensive record in the league at the start of the day and considering they did it with eight players out injured it is even more impressive.
Apart from the result and his team’s ability to see out the game comfortably, manager James Rowe highlighted the partnerships between Jim Kellermann and Manny Oyeleke in central midfield and Rowe and Tshimanga up front.
Rowe said the Kellermann-Oyeleke pairing is one that does not need much coaching because they know each other’s games inside out from their time at Aldershot together. Star man Oyeleke was immense in tracking runners, breaking up play and keeping hold of possession, while Kellermann provided the energy and put himself about well. The signing of Kellermann is another example of boss Rowe’s recruitment eye, a player other clubs would not have taken a chance on after rotten injury luck in the last two years but is now flourishing under a manager who knows what he can produce.
At the top end of the pitch, Rowe and Tshimanga have 15 goals between them in 22 combined appearances. They are starting to compliment each other nicely and there were lots of promising signs here.
Chesterfield could not buy a penalty last season and had to wait 30 odd matches before they got one in Rowe’s tenure.
But this one here was their eighth of the campaign in all competitions, seven of which have been scored.
The manager put this down to having more dribblers in the team, players who can commit defenders in the box and force the opposition to make fouls.
Tshimanga won the penalty at Wrexham earlier in the month so he took it but it was saved. He’s since won two more but it is Rowe who has stepped up and buried them so I don’t think we will see that changing anytime soon.
You just knew there was going to be some kind of drama involving at least one of the returning Evans and Scott Boden and so it proved.
Former skipper Evans had a rollercoaster of an afternoon with what would have been a bizarre own goal at one end, a goal in the right net which got Boreham back into the game (he didn’t celebrate) before receiving his marching orders in injury-time for a second yellow card.
Boden had a much quieter outing and managed just one shot on target which was an easy save for Loach. He was subbed off with 12 minutes remaining and received some applause from the West and East stands as he made his way around the pitch and he clapped back.
Add in the much-loved Ashmore giving away a penalty and it was quite the reunion in the end.
3-4-1-2: Loach; Kerr, Gunning, Maguire; King, Oyeleke, Kellermann (McCourt, 90), Miller (Whittle, 35); Mandeville; Rowe (Payne, 87), Tshimanga. Unused subs: Minter, Grimes.