'Moment of madness' - seven big talking points from Chesterfield's controversial draw against Dorking Wanderers

Chesterfield’s 2022/2023 National League campaign got underway in dramatic style with a 2-2 draw away at Dorking Wanderers.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

In an action-packed game, the Spireites led 2-0, had midfielder Ollie Banks in net for 60 minutes after goalkeeper Lucas Covolan was sent off, conceded twice in the second-half and then finished with nine-men after a second yellow card for Branden Horton in stoppage time.

There’s a lot to get through, so let’s try and break it down…


Chesterfield drew 2-2 at Dorking Wanderers in the season opener on Saturday. Picture: Tina JennerChesterfield drew 2-2 at Dorking Wanderers in the season opener on Saturday. Picture: Tina Jenner
Chesterfield drew 2-2 at Dorking Wanderers in the season opener on Saturday. Picture: Tina Jenner
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Let’s start with the red card for Covolan after 28 minutes because the game hinged on this incident. Town were leading 1-0 after Akwasi Asante slotted in after being played in by Armando Dobra on 18 minutes. Paul Cook’s men were largely in control and only looked like adding more goals to their tally.

Then came a moment of madness from the Brazilian Covolan, who initially did well to rush out of his box and win a header, but then appeared to deliberately stand on Dorking’s Ryan Seager as he made his way back to his net. It wasn’t clear what happened in real time from the press box on the opposite side of the ground, but the video replays do not paint a pretty picture for Covolan, who arrived at the Blues on a season-long loan from Port Vale with a bit of a reputation. I don’t see any point in appealing the decision by referee Wayne Cartmel so the stopper will now be suspended for the next three fixtures against Aldershot Town, Wrexham and Notts County.

With no goalkeeper on the bench, Banks took the gloves and performed admirably, although he was at fault for Dorking’s first goal, which also had a suspicion of offside about it. With Chesterfield 2-0 up, I was asked at half-time by a colleague if I would ‘take a point now’ but I said no because I felt they could hang on. But, in the end and now the dust has settled, a draw is a good result. You just can’t help thinking it would have been three had it not been for the crazy Brazilian, though.

Understandably, there were some strong words for Covolan at full-time from Cook and you have to hope he learns quickly because other teams will no doubt try and provoke him.


Hide Ad
Hide Ad

This match once again raises the question about only being allowed to name five substitutes and use three in the National League. Earlier this summer 15 clubs voted in favour of changing the rule, while nine were against it. The motion needed a 75 per cent majority (18) to pass.

The smaller clubs believe it would give the bigger clubs a competitive advantage. But what would be sensible, in my opinion, would be to allow clubs to name seven subs but only use three. That way at least it prevents managers from gambling on not naming a goalkeeper on the bench and it surely gives the league more integrity?

No blame can be attached to Cook, most managers in the division do it, but they shouldn’t be put in this position in the first place.


It will be interesting to see what develops in the next few days with regards to the goalkeeping situation. With Covolan the only stopper on the books and now banned for the next three matches, do Chesterfield bring in a short-term loan? Or do they plough on with the search for a permanent ‘back-up’ keeper and let him battle it out with Covolan? They have had a young goalkeeper on trial so perhaps we could see some movement there.


Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Horton’s second yellow card and subsequent red deep into stoppage time was another controversial moment, although there was little time left for it to have any effect on the result. However, it does mean the left-back is suspended for this Saturday’s clash against Aldershot, presenting an opportunity to Bailey Clements.

Whereas I think referee Cartmel got the Covolan decision correct, the second yellow for Horton for ‘time-wasting’ was baffling. I know referees have been told to clamp down on the ’dark arts’ and I am all for that, but Horton was not the offender. If anyone should have been punished it was probably Laurence Maguire. But even then, why not just give a warning and urge them to speed it up? It was totally unnecessary and a bit over the top.

There were seven red cards shown across the 12 National League fixtures this weekend which seems excessive. Let’s see how the rest of the season unfolds with regards to officiating, but we are off to a less than convincing start.


Moving away from the officiating and concentrating on the actual football, Chesterfield played some entertaining stuff and scored two well-worked goals.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The first one came from a Dorking corner and was started with a quick roll-out from Covolan to release Jeff King down the right. Asante held the ball up on the edge of the box, Darren Oldaker and Banks shifted the ball left to Horton, who found Dobra in the box. The Albanian performed a great change of direction to then slip in Asante who found the bottom corner.

The second involved a brilliant piece of determination from Liam Mandeville to win back possession, before Asante returned the favour for Dobra to double the lead on his debut.

Two excellent goals, and some encouraging signs going forward.


The squad has been put to the test in pre-season in terms of fitness and they needed to rely on those levels in the scorching heat on the Meadowbank artificial pitch.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

After Covolan’s sending off, the determination to keep the ball out of the net was obvious to see. The work-rate of King and Mandeville down the right was terrific, while Joe Quigley ran himself into the ground as the lone striker up top. Everybody was fighting for the cause.

They weren’t able to prevent Dorking equalising, but on this evidence Chesterfield will be one of the fittest teams in the league.

The Spireites conceded the equaliser with 13 minutes of normal time remaining and there were five minutes of stoppage time, which is still a decent amount of time to play, and you could argue they would have conceded a third last season, but they dug in and made sure they came away with a draw.


Both of Dorking’s goals came from crosses, which is disappointing considering Town had three centre-backs on the pitch.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The first one is unfortunate as the eager Banks comes for a cross and collides with Jamie Grimes, and there’s also a suspicion of offside as James McShane rolls the ball into the net.

Luke Moore’s equaliser is the more disappointing one, as the unmarked substitute fired from around the penalty spot.


(4-2-3-1) Covolan; King, Williams, Grimes, Horton; Oldaker (Gyasi 83), Banks; Mandeville, Dobra (Whelan 69), Asante (Maguire 58); Quigley. Unused subs: Sheckleford, Clarke.