Liam Norcliffe's Chesterfield FC column: Players owe fans a big performance at Harrogate Town after abysmal showing against Chorley

Back to square one.

Sunday, 17th November 2019, 10:11 am
Updated Monday, 18th November 2019, 10:22 am

That is what it feels like after watching Chesterfield lose 3-2 at home to the National League’s bottom club who had only won one game all season prior to Saturday.

I don’t know about anybody else but I had a feeling they would slip up, it had that ‘banana skin’ FA Cup type game look about it.

Before the match all the talk was about how the Spireites could not afford to underestimate the part-timers from Lancashire or take them for granted.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

In his pre-match press conference David Buchanan said boss John Sheridan would not let it happen and Sheridan himself has said they are not good enough to be complacent.

Well that is exactly what happened and they should be ashamed because you can’t just turn up when you feel like it.

That first 45 minutes at the Proact on Saturday was the worst I have seen in my short time in covering the club for the DT.

And going by comments online it might be the worst ever.

The players looked absolutely terrified again, just as they did in the early part of the season.

In the opening minutes of the game Chorley launched a long-throw into Chesterfield’s penalty box and to say they looked nervy and panicky in clearing their lines is an understatement.

Goalkeeper Shwan Jalal then miss-kicked a simple back-pass and from that point on you could see what kind of afternoon the Spireites fans were in for.

For a team that had won four out of six in the league and after the last home performance against Notts County you would think they would have some confidence about them.

Instead they could not string two passes together and launched the ball aimlessly to Tom Denton at any sign of a Chorley press.

There was no energy, no creativity and no ideas. It was absolutely abysmal.

It felt like Chesterfield had taken five steps back and had forgotten what had got them the win over Notts County.

Fair enough the second-half was better but it would have been hard not to be and it was too little too late.

I don’t think the fans could even be bothered to boo it was that miserable.

In terms of Sheridan’s team selection he was forced into making the two changes that he did, with Robbie Weir at right-back for the injured Josef Yarney and Joe Rowley switching to the left flank in place of Gevaro Nepomuceno who was away on international duty.

The team definitely missed Nepomuceno on the left side because he gives them natural width.

We all know Weir is not a right-back and was just filling in for the injured Yarney.

What I will say is, in my opinion, Chesterfield did not lose to Chorley because Weir was at right-back and because Rowley was on the left instead of the right.

They lost it because they conceded three terrible goals; one from a long ball over the top of the defence, one from a set-piece and one from the penalty spot.

They lost it because of their defensive errors, their inability to pass to feet and because they underestimated Chorley.

In hindsight you could question why Weir was at right-back but he actually performed pretty well in that position at Ebbsfleet two weeks ago.

While I imagine the plan was to get Rowley on the ball high up the field, running at defenders and cutting inside to deliver crosses for Denton. But unfortunately that was out of the question because they kept giving the ball away before it reached him.

I think Buchanan has something to offer but I think his days in midfield are over. He told me at Friday’s presser that left-back is his best position.

It does seem a bit strange that Jermaine McGlashan can’t get any minutes lately, he perhaps could have played on the right wing on Saturday which would have allowed Jonathan Smith to play centrally where he performed so well against Notts County.

I was surprised Sheridan did not make any changes at half-time because I was expecting at least two.

In fact, I did wonder whether he might make a change midway through the first-half with the way it was going.

The substitutes of Laurence Maguire, Liam Mandeville and Mike Fondop definitely made an impact and you would have to think at least two of them, if not all three, will start against Harrogate Town this Saturday.

This week the players need to have a long, hard look at themselves and they owe the fans a big performance at Harrogate.