Liam Norcliffe's Chesterfield column: Is there such a thing as a relaxing afternoon at the Proact?

Chesterfield 2 v 1 Aldershot Town.
Chesterfield 2 v 1 Aldershot Town.

Absolute chaos.

That is how I would describe what watching Chesterfield is like this season.

One minute they look a real threat going forward, the next minute they look like conceding five or six.

As much as their games always guarantee goals sometimes you wish they would just stroll to an easy win.

The heart rates of the Chesterfield supporters must have been going through the roof on Saturday against Aldershot.

The last half an hour was ridiculously stressful and frustrating and yet somehow the Spireites got the all important three points.

Chesterfield 2 v 1 Aldershot Town: Player ratings as Spireites come from behind to win at the Proact
It makes for great fun at times but in all seriousness it has to stop if Town are to climb the table.

John Sheridan’s men sat so deep after taking the lead that the back four were almost in Dronfield.

Given that results have been poor this season it is understandable that the players will get nervous and drop back but they can’t sit that deep for such a long period of time because it will cost them and they were very lucky to get away with it against The Shots.

Chesterfield assistant Glynn Snodin says character earned the Spireites their second win of the season
Glynn Snodin joked after the game that Sheridan was already on his ‘sixth bevvie’ at 5.15pm...at least I think it was a joke. And I bet he was not the only one who needed a stiff drink after that second half which included a penalty miss from Aldershot, a well-taken goal from Liam Mandeville and several scrambles in Chesterfield’s box.

For me the main problem that Sheridan needs to solve quickly is midfield.

Against Aldershot in the second half the midfield was completely overrun and there was no protection for the back four.

There needs to be more stability as far too often one ball cut straight through the heart of the team.

Chesterfield overloaded players forward at the wrong time, leaving themselves open to the counter-attack on several occasions.

Sheridan is still yet to settle on a central midfield combination and we are almost a third of the way into the season.

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It is not all his fault - those chosen have simply not taken their chance. But for me now he needs decide who are his best midfielders and give them a chance to string some consistency together.

From his recent selections it looks like Curtis Weston is one name who is taking his chance with four consecutive starts.

Praise must go to Sam Wedgbury for fighting his way back into Sheridan’s plans after being told he can leave the club if he was wanted elsewhere. He has started the last two matches and done reasonably okay.

Other than that, Jonathan Smith, Robbie Weir, Charlie Wakefield, Joe Rowley and Mandeville have all played centre midfield and have all been in and out favour.

Smith started six games in a row but has been dropped from the squad for the last two, Weir started in the 4-0 loss to Sutton United two weeks ago but has not even been on the bench since, young Wakefield started at Hartlepool but was a substitute against Aldershot, while Rowley now finds himself at right wing-back and Mandeville scored one and assisted another on Saturday and showed his quality.

Assuming that Weston and Mandeville will be the ones most trusted by Sheridan for the time-being at least, that leaves Wedgbury, Smith, Wakefield and Weir to fight it out for the third midfield spot.

I’m not a football manager but I would be tempted to play 4-4-2 and go back to basics, cut the gaps in midfield and be more solid. For now I don’t think they have the players to play 3-5-2 but we shall see.

Another major concern that Sheridan must solve is his team’s inability to score first in a game, especially at the Proact. Out of seven home matches they have only managed to score first twice, and they threw one of those leads away against Dover Athletic on the opening day of the season.

It a serious problem that they need to look otherwise they will continue to struggle.

Having said that, at least this week has been more positive than the previous one.

A creditable point at Hartlepool United has been made to look even better with the win over Aldershot.

It was a vital three points otherwise Chesterfield could have found themselves eight points adrift of The Shots already.

If they can dig out another win on Saturday against Eastleigh then that will bring them much closer to the next pack of teams in the bottom third of the table.

This league is very much wide open and a run of games can soon catapult you up to the top end, as proved by Barrow with their five consecutive wins seeing them rise into the play-offs.

In terms of Saturday wouldn’t it be great to be cruising 3-0 at half-time with the points already in the bag? Hopefully there will be some comfortable afternoons at the Proact on the horizon but for the time-being I think we all need to get the stress-balls ready and be prepared to suffer a little more.