The final word on Chesterfield's pre-season defeat to Alfreton Town

You can never read too much into pre-season.

Monday, 19th July 2021, 12:19 pm

Winning all your games does not guarantee a good start when the real thing kicks-off and vice versa.

Chesterfield were defeated at Alfreton on Saturday, but there is a long way to go before anybody should be pressing the panic button.

Let’s take a look at three topics that the match brought to our attention...

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Jak McCourt played the full 90 minutes against Alfreton.
Jak McCourt played the full 90 minutes against Alfreton.

Jak’s back

Out of the players who were at the club last season, Jak McCourt was Chesterfield’s best performer on the day and he was one of only two players, along with summer signing Jamie Grimes, to play the full 90 minutes, which is some effort considering this was friendly number one for the Blues.

The 26-year-old put in a proper shift in testing conditions, reminded everyone of his passing ability and assisted the second goal.

He played with a drive and an enthusiasm which deserved to be seen by more than just a few hundred in a pre-season friendly.

Having missed two crucial months in the latter part of last season due to injury, the Liverpudlian had clearly worked hard over summer and was keen to make up for lost time.

In my opinion, the Spireites missed his passing range and the tempo he plays at during certain matches last season so it is a big boost to have him back.

Formation tweak?

Chesterfield lined-up with their usual three central defenders and two wing-backs but, at times, it looked like there was a slight change to the central midfield area.

Whereas last season we saw a midfield pairing of Curtis Weston and Manny Oyeleke with two ‘number 10s’ ahead of them, which towards the end of the campaign was Jack Clarke and Liam Mandeville, on Saturday it looked a bit more like a traditional three of McCourt, Mandeville and Saidou Khan, with Joe Rowley playing as a striker, or as good as, alongside Stefan Payne.

Obviously it was just one game but perhaps we could see Town line-up slightly differently in that area this season. Having the three in midfield would allow them to play with two out-and-out strikers or allow a Mandeville, Clarke or a Rowley to play off the lone forward.

It is an interesting one as it would probably mean there is room for only one ‘holding’ midfielder in Weston, Oyeleke and maybe you could put McCourt into that bracket as well.

Georgey boy

The battle for the right wing-back spot will be hotly contested by two player of the year award winners from last season.

George Carline collected the Chesterfield accolade, while Jeff King, now a Spireite, took the honours at Halifax.

King has not come to warm the bench so many will be asking the question about where Carline fits in.

Personally, I would not be surprised to see him used on the right of a back three at times. He played there once last season against Sutton United and looked comfortable.

That doesn’t mean that Carline won’t ever play wing-back again because I am sure he will, potentially away from home when the Blues need to be a bit more cautious.

Of course Town also have the reliable Fraser Kerr in that position, but I think that is one to look out for.