Chesterfield v FC Halifax Town: Opposition focus

We spoke to Liam Norcliffe from the Derbyshire Times for the lowdown on Chesterfield ahead of Tuesday night’s game.
Chesterfield boss James RoweChesterfield boss James Rowe
Chesterfield boss James Rowe

How have Chesterfield been doing of late?

Chesterfield are one of the form sides in the league with five wins from their last seven games. They have only lost one of their last seven, which came against Bromley on Saturday. Overall, since James Rowe took over in late November, the Spireites have only lost five of 23 league games, a run which has taken them from the relegation zone to the play-off places.

How will they approach the game tomorrow night?

On the front-foot, as they always do. They conceded two soft goals against Bromley last time out, a ball straight through the heart of the defence after giving away possession cheaply and then a header from a cross after they got caught on the counter. If they can cut-out those types of mistakes then I think they can get a positive result.

Do you think they’ll get in the play-offs?

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Yes, although the injuries are starting to mount up so I am not as confident as I was about three weeks ago. Chesterfield have been rocked by the news this week that top scorer and star man Akwasi Asante will be out for nine months with a ruptured ACL. He has scored 10 goals since moving to the Technique Stadium from Gloucester City but it is his ball retention, hold-up play, link play and physicality that they will also miss. As well as Asante, centre-back Haydn Hollis, who has been outstanding under Rowe, is also out for the remainder of the campaign and more with a ruptured Achilles. And Tom Denton is out for the season after a knee operation. That is three big injuries to three big players so Town can count themselves very unlucky. They have got some tough games coming up after Halifax, with Wrexham, Bromley, Hartlepool and Torquay all to play so the squad is going to be put to the test. And, who knows, it may even come down to the game against Halifax on the last day of the season!

What’s their style of play?

Rowe likes to play 3-5-2, 3-4-1-2 or 3-4-2-1. They like to play out from the back, dominate possession, create overloads out wide and pepper the opposition goal from all angles. It is normally high-pressing, high energy football and they have a real identity now. But, despite their attacking-minded approach, they are very solid at the back and have kept 14 clean sheets in Rowe’s 23 league games in charge.

Key men?

Centre-back Gavin Gunning missed out on Saturday but it is hoped he will be able to return for this one and his experience and leadership are key. They really missed him against Bromley. Central midfielder Curtis Weston, who hobbled off with a sore Achilles on Saturday, is a vital cog in this team so he will be a big miss if he is not fit. After Asante, Tom Whelan is the next highest scorer with five goals from midfield and has become a fan favourite since joining from Weymouth. The way that Chesterfield play means the full-backs are very important and, in my opinion, they have some of the best in the league in George Carline, Alex Whittle and Joel Taylor.

What’s your predicted line-up and formation?

3-4-1-2: G.Smith; Kerr, Gunning, Maguire; Carline, Weston, M.Smith, Taylor; Whelan; Mitchell, Tyson.

Score prediction?

I think there will be goals, I’ll go for 2-2.