Like the weather, the mood around the Proact has taken a turn
Sweet Caroline, good times never seemed so far away.
Like the weather, the mood around the Proact has taken a sharp turn for the worse.
And yet it’s but a couple of weeks since Town tucked nine points into their back pocket from the first three games of the season.
Everything was rosy, the sun was splitting the trees and a new day had dawned after three dark years for Chesterfield FC.
Here we are entering just the second month of the season and the natives are already restless.
Given what Spireites have had to endure in their club’s well documented slump from League One play-off contenders to the Football League trapdoor, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that things would sour quickly, should results not go their way.
There’s a lot to consider, besides the backdrop of recent failure, when assessing the mood of the club’s fanbase.
They’re not simply throwing the toys out of the pram because a few points have been dropped.
It’s the manner in which their side has fallen to defeats that appears to rankle the rank and file in the stands.
Each of the four straight defeats has been by a single goal, which might suggest Town are competitive and maybe a little unlucky.
There are always moments you can point to, missed chances, harsh officiating, unfortunate bobbles of the ball, what ifs that, had they gone the other way, would give a much brighter picture of things at Sheffield Road.
Against Barnet on Saturday, however, it was the afternoon as a whole, as an experience, that alarmed.
A dearth of ideas going forward, the apparent lack of pace and creativity, the struggle to get a grip in a midfield which was largely by-passed by long, often aimless balls to a strike force that found it hard to impose themselves on the visiting defence.
In short, it wasn’t good.
And yet, as they went in at the break, I felt Barnet themselves had offered so little that a Chesterfield goal would probably be enough.
Zavon Hines was the man most likely to make something happen, on a day when nothing went right for a Kyel Reid who huffed and puffed.
Hines’ trickery troubled the gigantic Dan Sweeney sufficiently to earn the defender a first half booking and although he came under pressure briefly in the second half, Town seemed to give up the idea of passing and running it round the Bees skipper – the very thing that looked like it might pay off.
Instead, they opted for high balls into the box that were almost exclusively fielded with ease.
Set-piece opportunities were wasted time and time again and when Sam Muggleton’s long throw was introduced, it created a bit of chaos as it always does – but no goals.
The ghost of seasons past came back to haunt the Spireites – Barnet broke, scored and took the points.
They did have their moments, John Still’s men, forcing Callum Burton into a number of vital saves on his debut between the sticks.
But on the balance of play, a goalless draw would have been a fairer reflection.
The Bank Holiday defeat at Hartlepool by the same scoreline only served to irk supporters further.
Chesterfield, worryingly, look short of goals.
Take Charlie Carter out of the midfield and forward momentum seems to dry up.
Hines, now the main man at the Proact in a surprise twist given his erratic form last season, cannot do it on his own.
Goziw Ugwu so desperately needs a goal to get going and Marc-Antoine Fortune must give defences a far harder time of it.
Behind them, the midfield cannot wait for Carter’s return to get going.
Most important of all, these supporters need to see something more than they’ve witnessed in the past week.
There has to be more to the Spireites than a long ball and a long throw.
The 3-0 beating of Aldershot and the powerful, complete performance that inspired it, seem a very long time ago now.
One swallow does not a summer make, the Proact crowd are due some proof that this squad is good enough to deliver what everyone wants – a Football League return.
Whether it’s better on-field decision making from the players or replacements brought in by the board and the management, something has to change quickly.