Martin Allen seems to have solved one longstanding Chesterfield problem but now he's faced with another
Martin Allen appears to have solved one longstanding problem at the Proact but now faces a new one.
Chesterfield have, over the past couple of years, been a team who acquired an uncanny knack of losing games.
On their appalling slide down the football pyramid they would find new and imaginative ways to lose games.
Dreadful defending in the final seconds of games, poor decisions leading to red cards, lapses of concentration in possession at crucial stages in dangerous areas of the pitch, missing tackles that would have stopped goalscoring attacks at source – you name it, they’ve been guilty of it.
Over the course of the past eight games – which is a significant period of time in a season – Chesterfield have stopped losing.
They are without defeat since September, having played twice in the FA Cup and six times in the National League.
The last time they were unbeaten for eight games was in the 2013/14 season, in which they finished top of League Two under Paul Cook.
The difference between that unbeaten run and this one is that Cook’s side won four games of the eight – this Spireites side have won just once.
That impressive FA Cup victory at AFC Fylde and seven draws have put clear daylight between Town and the losing habit that has blighted the club and left its supporters bereft of positivity.
Those seven draws shed light on the the new headscratching conundrum – the team’s inability to find a way to win.
In league action, they haven’t picked up three points since 11th August – a full three months ago.
Although there’s only been one clean sheet during the run, Town have also only scored more than once in one game – at Fylde in the cup.
It’s goals that win games.
And when you’re reliant on midfield spoiler Jonathan Smith for your biggest goal threat, something is not quite right.
That said, Smith wasn’t the only one to come close to a goal that would have knocked Billericay out of the FA Cup on Saturday.
Strikers Zavon Hines, Marc-Antoine Fortune and Lee Shaw all had chances.
There were plenty of chances created.
Had Ricay keeper Alan Julian not decided to bring his very best form to the Proact, the mood of supporters this week might have been significantly cheerier.
Most weeks I try to use this column as a means of explaining why the supporters of this old club are so downbeat, but this week I find myself at odds with many of those who have commented since full-time on Saturday.
I actually thought it wasn’t that bad a game to watch and the performance was quite bright.
Some of the football was fairly pleasing on the eye.
It was, by no means, champagne football.
But we’ve seen much, much worse at the Proact – even this season.
It wasn’t all hoof-ball.
Fortune and Hines showed some lovely touches at times, Joe Rowley got on the ball to good effect and Will Evans galloped gamely up the flank in an attempt to bring width, instead of lumping it clear from his right-back position.
He may have been more bison than gazelle, but it was good to see.
With 17 shots attempted and seven on target, Chesterfield couldn’t have done a great deal more to try and win it.
Alle put four strikers on.
The intent was there.
Perhaps the key to seeing that display in a better light is to get any thought that Chesterfield had a God-given right to beat Billericay, simply because they play in the division below, out of your head.
This was a struggling National League side up against the in-form National League South leaders.
You can no longer judge fixtures with the mindset of a League One supporter.
The facilities and the fanbase might scream Football League, but the league membership does not.
Chesterfield, for reasons we’ve all ruefully examined a thousand times, are no longer a League One club with hopes of Championship status.
They are where they are on merit, thanks to two miserable relegations.
Of course, those relegations should never have been allowed to happen, but they did.
If a person with zero knowledge of the two clubs’ histories had only the league tables and Saturday’s game to go on, they might well say the Spireites were pretty good.
And if you’re a supporter of a club that has lost 95 times in a little over three years, any result that isn’t a defeat can’t be too hard to stomach.
There’s nothing better than winning, but not losing is better than losing.
Patience is, understandably, in short supply, but it’s required right now.
If he’s solved one problem, give him time to solve another.