OPINION: Chesterfield needed a change and Martin Allen responded
Spireites columnist Oliver Mooney discusses the arrival of Tom Denton
A key criticism of Martin Allen’s Chesterfield side so far has been of the lack of firepower in the Spireites’ arsenal, or more generally of a lack of ability to convert chances.
The Spireites have gone an agonising five games without scoring a single goal, somehow coming away from their last fixture against ten-man Dover with a 0-0 draw when they hit the woodwork twice from close range in the final minute of the game.
Some may call it hard luck, but perhaps the more realistic argument is that Chesterfield’s goal-scoring credentials simply are not up to standard.
With Gozie Ugwu completely out of confidence, the gaffer too has lost confidence in the 25-year-old and has consequently shown him the door. Over the summer I backed him to do well and prove a point with his chance to step up into the first team and showcase his ability, but it has become crystal clear that his career will not develop at the Proact. Being available for free just about says it all for Ugwu.
Summer signing Lee Shaw looks to be hungry for success, but relying on a striker inexperienced at this level and a 37-year-old Marc-Antoine Fortuné may not be the most intelligent of moves.
Enter Tom Denton, Martin Allen’s latest arrival at the Proact and a player who knows how to score goals at National League level.
The 29-year-old experienced his best goal-scoring spell at Halifax Town, netting 28 times over 39 appearances for the National League side before moving to National League North outfit Alfreton and scoring six in nine to earn his move back into the non-league’s top tier after just four months with the Reds.
Standing at an intimidating six foot, seven inches tall, a football fan unfamiliar with Denton will know his main source of threat without needing to watch his highlights. A defender’s worst nightmare, he will for sure be troubling any back line this season for the Spireites.
He could also be the ideal strike partner for fellow new arrival Lee Shaw, who would benefit from opposition defenders doubling up on Denton and opening up space for the former Grantham Town man.
With enough experience under his belt yet a good few years ahead of him still, Denton may just be the answer to Chesterfield’s prayers, although nothing is for certain in the world of football. If he can tally his goals at anywhere near the rate he had at Halifax, he’ll be a welcome man around town.
That same day, transfer business was beginning to look even tastier for Spireites supporters, but with just personal terms to agree, former Spireite Gboly Ariyibi turned down a loan return to the Proact Stadium.
Disappointing is an understatement considering the prospect of possessing the US youth international’s ability at tier five, and it perhaps sums up how low the club has fallen when a former player is uninterested in playing at their level.
Ariyibi would have injected some lethal pace on the wings and would have been an excellent pairing for Zavon Hines, but it wasn’t to be this time and Martin Allen will have to look elsewhere.
What is most important is that Allen has responded to the underlying issues in his squad, refusing to sit back and hope for the best and rather opting to stimulate a turnaround with new additions.
There are still some questionable decisions made by the gaffer which remain unanswered, such as bringing Shwan Jalal back into the starting eleven after an impressive opening few performances from loanee ‘keeper Callum Burton, when stability is needed at this stage.
Allen can hide behind the ‘gelling’ excuse for a little while still, but this won’t be the case when the festive season is on the horizon and the league table begins to take its realistic shape.