How Chesterfield punished 10-man Solihull Moors to stay top of the National League
First-half goals from Alex Whittle and Kabongo Tshimanga secured all three points for league leaders Chesterfield against 10-man Solihull Moors.
The hosts were reduced to 10 men after Kyle Storer was sent off for a heavy challenge on Luke Croll.
And the Spireites made them pay to ensure they remain top of the league.
This was a professional, hard-working away win.
Before the red card for Storer there was not much in the game. Tshimanga pounced on a poor back-pass but he was denied by goalkeeper Ryan Boot, Jeff King had a free-kick saved and then the hosts went closest to scoring when Danny Newton’s looping header from Jamey Osborne’s corner hit the crossbar.
As the away side Chesterfield will probably have been fairly content with how the game was panning out before Storer saw red.
Two goals in nine minutes before half-time then put the Spireites in a commanding position with a man advantage.
The first was created and finished by the brilliant Whittle, who played a couple of terrific one-twos down the left flank before firing the ball in for his first of the season.
The second came at a crucial moment on the stroke of half-time when Tshimanga caught Boot out at his near post with a powerful strike for his 16th league goal in as many games and 17 in all competitions.
The way that Town managed the second-half was impressive. They didn’t give Solihull any chances to load the box from free-kicks, they kept their shape and defended as if it was goalless and 11v11 and that is the biggest compliment I can give them.
Saidou Khan had a glorious chance to add a third and Boot made a couple more saves from Curtis Weston and King.
In the end it could have been three or four and it turned out to be a lot more comfortable than first thought before kick-off.
And let’s not forget (how could we?) that they did it with 10 players unavailable. Remarkable.
With James Rowe’s men a goal ahead and a man up with the match approaching half-time, Scott Loach made a good block from Adam Rooney and then Tyrone Williams, facing his former club just one week after leaving, put his body on the line to deny Joe Sbarra from equalising when the loose ball dropped him.
A minute later the ball was in the net up the other end through Tshimanga.
It proved to be a pivotal moment because it could have been a very different second-half had the scoreline been level at the break.
Whittle had to wait until the middle of October for his first start of the season but injuries and Calvin Miller’s suspension opened the door for him and he has taken his chance.
He has been excellent in recent weeks and he was my man of the match here.
Not only was it great play and an emphatic finish for his goal, he never stopped closing down and he was the first to the ball time and time again.
On this form Miller has got a big fight to get back into the team.
(3-4-2-1) Loach; Williams; Grimes, Croll; King, Weston, Oyeleke (McCourt, 63), Whittle; Kellermann (Payne, 76), Khan (Mandeville, 69); Tshimanga. Unused subs: Minter, Tyson.