From boxing to set-pieces - how Chesterfield secured promotion back to the EFL

Chesterfield have had one of the best seasons in their history as they won the National League title in thrilling style.
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Here, we take a look at some of the things that have been the key to their success:


Chesterfield got the bulk of their transfer business done nice and early and that put them in a strong position right from the beginning of pre-season. That is probably the aim of most clubs, but not many actually achieve it, so credit to everyone for making it happen. Miguel Freckleton was their last signing on August 30. It was quite telling that by the time Town had won the league, other clubs were still scrambling around trying to sign players to rescue their season.

Captain Jamie Grimes lifts the trophy.Captain Jamie Grimes lifts the trophy.
Captain Jamie Grimes lifts the trophy.


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This links to the above point. The Spireites’ strategy last summer was quality over quantity. Rather than sign a load of new players, they set out to strengthen in key areas that would make a difference and the three marquee additions of Tom Naylor, Michael Jacobs and Will Grigg certainly had a vital influence on and off the pitch. They had a squad of two players for each position and they actually ended up using the fewest number of players in the league.


It is believed that the Blues are the first team to lose a play-off final and then win the league the following year. That shows just how tough a task they faced. Surprisingly, there was no hangover when they returned to pre-season, and those in the camp say the vibe was really positive, and they used that Wembley heartache as fuel this time around.


Paul Cook’s style of play relies heavily on fitness levels being top notch and several players have spoken about how tough pre-season was. But they reaped the rewards of the long gruelling runs and the boxing sessions in the gym with the number of goals (19) scored after the 80th minute in games. They also suffered very few injuries and it was only towards the end when they lost a couple due to bad tackles or dodgy pitches. Cook used his experience to know when to give a player a breather and it worked a treat.


Chesterfield scored 120 goals in all competitions and they had threats all over the park. Will Grigg led the way with 25, but Tom Naylor (13), Joe Quigley (12), Armando Dobra (11), Ollie Banks (10), Liam Mandeville (8), Ryan Colclough (7), James Berry (7) and Michael Jacobs (6) all played big parts. Such was their attacking nature, they conceded 65 times, with 12 other teams letting in fewer. They say that attacks win games and defences win titles, but it was probably the reverse this time.


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For all of their free-flowing football, set-pieces proved to be very fruitful, with Town scoring more than 30 times from corners and free-kicks. There was a lovely variety and the deliveries from Liam Mandeville were superb. Assistant manager Danny Webb is the set-piece lead, so he deserves a big pat on the back.


The phrase ‘great lad’ gets thrown about in football a lot but this group are a tight-knit, humble, hard-working bunch. They carry themselves in a classy way on and off the pitch and their togetherness and team spirit helped them score late winners and to grind out victories.

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