"Pass, pass, pass and press, press, press" - FC Halifax Town v Chesterfield: Opposition Focus

We spoke to Liam Norcliffe from the Derbyshire Times for the lowdown on FC Halifax Town's opponents on Monday.

By Tom Scargill
Sunday, 17th April 2022, 8:03 pm
Updated Sunday, 17th April 2022, 8:06 pm
Paul Cook.
Paul Cook.

How have Chesterfield been doing since Paul Cook was appointed?

It's been a mixed start with four wins, four draws and four defeats. In fairness, everything that could have gone wrong in Cook's first few weeks went wrong, including losing top goalscorer Kabongo Tshimanga to serious injury in his very first match. He has also not been able to call upon other key players due to injuries and they have been on the end of some woeful refereeing decisions. On the pitch, they have been trying to adjust to Cook's 4-2-3-1 formation, which was shelved for the more familiar 3-4-1-2 last time out and against Wealdstone, and it got them a much-needed win.

Has the club recovered from the shock and nature of James Rowe's departure?

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Rowe's departure was a shock and the exact reasons why he left have not been made officially public but the club has said they would not have gone their separate ways 'without good reason' considering they were top of the league at the time. Personally, I don't think Chesterfield's results would have been that much different had Rowe still been in charge because there were signs that performance levels were starting to dip and injuries were beginning to take their toll. Perhaps they might have one or two extra points, but I certainly don't think they would be in touch with Stockport given their incredible form.

How much has the injury to top scorer Kabongo Tshimanga affected the team?

Any team would be affected by losing your top goalscorer who had bagged 24 goals in 27 league games. I think it affected them mentally more than what people might have initially thought. He was the difference-maker in a lot of matches and I think it has given opposition teams a boost knowing he's not playing when facing Town. They still have 'very slim' hopes that he might be back at the end of the season, especially if they make the play-offs.

What's been the message from Paul Cook ahead of the run-in?

There were some interesting comments from Cook after the win against Wealdstone in which he admitted that he is still 'searching' to find his best line-up and that they need to improve on their decision-making which he called 'mad'. But he also said that in terms of honesty and work ethic he has never had a better group to work with in his career, which is a big statement.

How would you rate Chesterfield's chances in the play-offs?

Before Saturday's win at Wealdstone there were some fears they might not even make the play-offs but victory in London has settled everyone down now. Finishing in the top three would obviously give them the best chance of promotion because they would have a home semi-final in front of probably a near 10,000 crowd. Win that and then anything can happen in the final. If they were to finish between fourth and seventh, given their current form, I don't think I would fancy them to win three games against the top sides, despite them having the second best away record in the division. But a lot can change between now and the end of the season and with a possible return for Tshimanga, who knows!

How are they playing under Cook - what is the football like and what can Halifax expect to come up against in terms of their style of play?

In his fourth match in charge Cook changed formation from 3-4-1-2 that had worked so well under Rowe to his much-preferred 4-2-3-1 but it hasn't really paid off. They've been conceding too many goals and not scoring enough at the other end. They've been wide open at times and conceding four at home to Grimsby was the final straw. Cook's instructions from the touchline have been to 'pass, pass, pass' and 'press, press, press' so it should be a decent game at The Shay. Tom Denton made his first start for 15 months against Wealdstone and they did mix it up a bit so they could go a bit longer as well.

Who will be your dangermen on Monday, and why?

Akwasi Asante. He's averaging a goal every three games since his return from nine months out with a ruptured ACL. He's got seven so far which is very creditable after such a long time on the sidelines.