'Most important win' - what we learned from Chesterfield's crucial victory against Wealdstone

Joe Quigley’s first Chesterfield goal secured the Spireites’ first win in five and consolidated their place in the play-off positions after victory at Wealdstone.

By Liam Norcliffe
Monday, 11th April 2022, 11:32 am

Josh Umerah scored seven minutes after the break for the hosts to cancel out Jamie Grimes’ first-half opener.

But substitute Quigley fired in his first goal in 14 appearances just eight minutes after coming on and it proved to be the winner.

IMPORTANT

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Joe Quigley scored his first Chesterfield goal in the win at Wealdstone on Saturday. Picture: Tina Jenner.

This win was probably Chesterfield’s most important of the season. After the mauling by the Mariners, there had been some fears about whether the Spireites might do the unthinkable and drop out of the play-offs completely. But those nerves have been eased now with this victory because, combined with defeats for Notts County, Boreham Wood and Bromley and Grimsby only managing a draw, it means Town have a healthy 11-point lead over eighth-placed Dagenham & Redbridge, although they do have a game in hand.

Unless the Blues totally collapse and only collect a small number of points from their remaining six games, then it looks like Chesterfield are going to be involved in the play-offs for a second successive campaign. Depending on how the results go on Good Friday, when Paul Cook’s men are not in action, then finishing third could be back on if they can win at The Shay on Easter Monday. Wrexham’s four-point lead, two games in hand and impressive form means they are probably out of reach.

The importance of pinching that third spot should not be underestimated, it guarantees a home game in the semi-finals and means no eliminator round, which is where the Spireites came unstuck last season.

THREE AT THE BACK

There had been plenty of calls for a return to three at the back after the heavy defeat to Grimsby and that is what Paul Cook went with at The Vale. It was definitely the correct decision given Town’s previous success with it earlier this season, but I have to admit I had my doubts whether he would make the swap. On one hand it was obvious it needed to happen, but it was also a brave call because it meant scrapping his much-favoured 4-2-3-1. Many other managers might have been stubborn and persisted with it so credit to Cook for that.

It wasn’t totally faultless, Chesterfield still conceded a goal from a counter-attack, which is a bit of a recurring theme this season along with the late goals, and they nearly threw the points away again with the clocking ticking down but they got let off the hook big time when substitute Jamie Mascoll blazed over when unmarked at the back post. They also might have got away with one when, on first viewing, it looked like Gavin Gunning tripped Umerah in the box.

But the Spireites needed to find a way to win, and there is no doubt the return to three at the back helped with that, but there will be bigger tests to come.

RETURNEES

Tom Denton made his first competitive start in 15 months following two knee injuries and he got a healthy 60-minutes under his belt. The striker played a part in the first goal when he got first contact on Curtis Weston’s cross before Gunning teed up Grimes to smash home. He also created a good chance for Liam Mandeville when he lost his marker at the back post to head back across goal. There were other little flick-ons and general nuisance-causing, so overall he can be pleased with his contribution.

There was also a return for Gavin Gunning after three months out, and he got my pick for man of the match. It was a clever assist for Grimes’ goal and his voice was the one you could hear most throughout, driving his team-mates on for the whole 90.

Tyrone Williams came back in after two months of being out of favour and added some balance to the three-man defence, while Jim Kellermann returned from a two-match ban.

Cook’s changes meant that Laurence Maguire, Calvin Miller and Saidou Khan dropped to the bench, while there was no place in the squad for Tom Whelan, Joe Rowley and Nathan Tyson. Manny Oyeleke and Danny Rowe were also not involved as they continue to build-up their fitness.

QUIGS

It’s been a long wait for his first Chesterfield goal but what a strike it was. It was a pure, true shot from the edge of the box which arrowed into the top corner. He took it like a striker in red-hot form, not someone who had failed to scor in 13 previous appearances since signing from Yeovil Town in January. You couldn’t help but smile when the ball hit the back of the net. Every single outfield player celebrated with him which was a nice moment. He grew in confidence after that and looked like a man fired-up.

TEAM:

(3-4-1-2) Loach; Williams. Gunning, Grimes; King, Weston, Kellermann, Whittle; Mandeville (Miller, 86); Asante (Khan, 70), Denton (Quigley, 60). Unused subs: Maguire, McCourt.