The Spireites’ first challenge is a trip to FC Halifax Town, who finished fourth, on Tuesday, May 24 in a one-legged play-off elimination tie.
We spoke to journalist Tom Scargill, who covers the Shaymen for the Halifax Courier, to get the inside track on the Blues’ next opponents.
Here’s what he said...
Has much changed at Halifax since the teams last played each other at The Shay a month ago?
I wouldn't say so, no. I think it's much the same in terms of not quite being at their sparkling best that they produced earlier in the season. They've only lost two in their last 10 but performances have been mixed. Top scorer Billy Waters hasn't found the net in his last nine games, which hasn't helped. One or two injuries have crept in as well, which have disrupted things a bit.
Halifax beat Chesterfield 2-0 last month, do you think that will have any bearing on this game?
It could do, for both sides. I don't think Chesterfield will relish coming to The Shay given Halifax's home record, and I think their home record is something Town are really proud of and want to use to their advantage, as well as the win last month. I think Town will be reminding themselves that they took four points off Chesterfield this season so, by and large, have got the measure of them.
Is there a little bit of disappointment that Halifax did not finish third in the end?
There is, but that's only to be expected seeing as though they were in the top three for so long. There's perhaps a sense that Town let third place slip, but Solihull Moors have been in fantastic form and deserve credit for securing third. I think the Town fans that are disappointed at fourth need to take a step back and ask themselves if they'd have taken that at the start of the season. It's a magnificent achievement by everyone at the club, and I think with a few days to let the dust settled, everyone should have refocused on going full tilt at the play-offs.
What's Pete Wild said about Halifax's season and the play-offs?
Just that the club have achieved what they set out to do, which is finish in the play-offs, and that they should be very proud of amassing 84 points, which would have been enough to win the league last season. Town also have the best defensive record in the league, which the club are also very proud of. I think Wild is focusing on the positives, and rightly so. I think the club know it's not going to be easy to have to win three games now rather than two, but they're just going to take it one game at a time, focus everything on the Chesterfield game and see where it takes them.
Will the Shaymen be satisfied with a home tie against Chesterfield? Would the fans expect them to win?
I think so, given the fact they've taken four points off them and that Chesterfield come into the play-offs in poor form. I think Town would fancy themselves against anyone at home, and rightly so given how good they've been at The Shay. I think some fans have had their confidence knocked a bit by Town's mixed form and performance levels, but generally I think the supporters would be confident of winning rather than expecting to win.
Playing at home is surely a big plus given their home form?
Absolutely. If you look at Town's recent form there is definitely more points at home than away of late. There was a big focus on making The Shay a fortress last summer in terms of recruitment and building the team so that it maximised its chances of being strong at home, and that has bore fruit. I think Town have had to adapt throughout the season as more visitors to the Shay have adopted a more defensive attitude and sat back, but there's no doubt it's a big plus to be at home.
Any injuries/suspensions going into this one?
Martin Woods, Pierce Bird and Kian Spence all went off with knocks at Stockport but it sounds like they were precautionary so all should probably be fit. Kieran Green wasn't risked at Stockport but he should be back, which will be a big plus. So too should Tom Bradbury, so Wild will have some selection headaches. Luke Summerfield and Jamie Allen won't be fit as they've been ruled out for the season.
Likely formation and line-up?
(4-2-3-1) Johnson; Warren, Maher, Debrah, Senior; Green, Spence; Slew, Warburton, Gilmour; Waters.
Given Chesterfield's poor form and Town's fantastic home record, I have to go for a Town win but I can see it being close. 1-0 Halifax.