'Selecting line-up against Halifax was most difficult of my tenure,' says Chesterfield boss James Rowe

Manager James Rowe said picking Chesterfield’s starting line-up against Halifax was the most ‘difficult’ selection dilemma in his tenure.

By Liam Norcliffe
Wednesday, 29th December 2021, 10:59 am

The game was the Spireites' first in 17 days after a Covid outbreak at the club.

Long-term injury pair Akwasi Asante and captain Gavin Gunning were given starts.

Curtis Weston had to come off at half-time.

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Chesterfield manager James Rowe.

“Curtis was struggling,” Rowe said. “Obviously we didn't want to bring him off but he was not quite right. There were a few others who only had one or two sessions going into it, so big credit to some of the players who went out there and played the full 90.

"There is not enough research on Covid so it is a little bit of guesswork really.

"That is a big problem for us because we have had 17 days off so picking the team was probably the most difficult it has been in my tenure.

"We have had a big number of Covid cases so when to drop them back in is very hard to judge. You can train to a certain degree but to go full tilt in front of 8,000 people is different.”

Asante played an hour on his first appearance in eight months.

"I think that will do his confidence a world of good,” Rowe explained.

"He did some really good things, some bright things, there were some things he could have done better. He was a bit rusty with his hold-up play.

"There is a lot more to come from him and it is really pleasing we got an hour into him.

"At some stage Akwasi needs minutes and we are not blessed with a 23s team that play in a competitive league so he either has to go on loan or we have to judge where he is.

"Let's see how he recovers. He has been out for a long time so credit to him to get through the hour.

"He is a top player and a top lad.

"Today was the right time for him to come into the team."

And on Gunning’s return, Rowe said: "I fully trust him, he is the leader of the group.

"He has been a big part of what we have done in the last year.”

Chesterfield were not really at the races in the first-half but Rowe did not want to make any excuses.

"I don't want to discredit the opposition, they played their part,” he told the DT.

"They are on level points with us for a reason.

"I think there was a little bit of that (rustiness).

"There were a lot of breakdowns which would not normally happen in our final third.

"We got opportunities to shoot but we did not take them so our decision-making process was a little bit array.

"But what credit to the group to regather their thoughts, re-set their mindset and to come out to be by far the better team in the second-half.

"It was a good game, a good atmosphere, a great feel about it, both teams going full throttle, they had the better of the first-half, we had the better of the second-half, we take a point and move on."

Next up is strugglers King’s Lynn Town at the Technique on New Year’s Day.

Rowe added: "It is another anomaly because they have not played today, their game was off, so they have had a good rest since they played last against Halifax, I went to that game. They have got a new manager and they are all trying their best to stamp their authority for a place in the starting line-up.

"I know Tommy (Widdrington), their manager, quite well so I am sure it will be a good game."