Déjà vu Football.

Tuesday 20th December 2022, Technique Stadium Chesterfield, FA Trophy Kick off 19.45pm

Having been to see Chesterfield FC bow out of the Derbyshire Senior Cup the night before I thought I would give myself an early Christmas present and watch two games in two days.

I don’t know why turning up for an evening game is so magical, but it is.

Chesterfield’s FA Trophy match against Coalville Town FC had been postponed on Saturday due to the hard ground and to ensure that fixture congestion would not build up it was quickly rescheduled for Tuesday night. The draw had already been made for the next round and each team knew that a win would bring them an away tie with the winners of Banbury v Bognor Regis which was being played on the same night.

The evening was so different from the night before in that there were now clear skies and the temperature had dropped by 7 degrees.

This stadium, one of the newly relocated grounds of the past 10 years, is one of the best, which was amplified by the fact that England under 19’s have played here in the last 12 months. Those who will remember Saltergate will have loved its homely charm, but it’s cramped near town centre location could not survive and the housing that has replaced it gives no indication of football’s cultural loss. The Spireites have not had a good time in the new stadium having dropped down to the National League but the club is now more focused locally and on a much steadier foundation.

Coalville Town play in the Southern League Premier Division Central which is two levels below Chesterfield. They have been a successful Non League Club for some years since originally establishing in 1926 and have been known as Ravenstone Miners Athletic, Ravenstone Swifts and Coalville Town from 1998 when they moved into the Town after having local difficulties in being able to install floodlights.

When I looked at the program and heard the teams over the sound system I had that eerie feeling that I’d seen this before, in fact at Staveley the night before. Chesterfield were not playing their first team but their second stream squad which when I compared it to who had featured in their league games this season there was little comparison. There was a place for Lawrence McGuire, brother of the England centre back who I had seen previously play for Illkeston Town.

Chesterfield FC 1 Coalville 3

Isuzu FA Trophy Third Round Proper

Chesterfield, Light Blue Shirts , White Shorts: Coalville Town, White and back vertical stripes to front of the shirts, plain white back with black shorts.

This seemed familiar as Chesterfield stroked the ball across the back finding no outlets for a final pass while Coalville buzzed around as if their life’s depended on it. Coalville also played quick tempo direct running and passing that unnerved the Chesterfield defense. All the same as Belper the previous night.

It was no surprise that Coalville took the lead on 10 minutes when their number 2, Alex Dean, took the ball past defenders and crossed it beating the goalkeeper for Ashley Chambers just to tap in. This brought some response from Chesterfield who seemed stung by the visitors and they drew level 8 minutes later when a curling free kick from the left was met by George Wilkinson at the far post.

The night was getting colder and I thought that Chesterfield would now show their dominance and take control of the game. They did however fall back into their previous lethargic pattern and Coalville renewed their lead on 22 minutes when a poor clearance by the home defense meant the ball fell to Tom McGlinchey who curled the ball across the keeper into the far corner of the net. Again the goal sparked a Home response but Coalville looked well prepared and organised and little came of some shots from long range.

Coalville were worth their 2.1 lead at half time and within 5 minutes of the restart were 3.1 up when Ash Chambers again scored with a deflection after some good interplay with McGlinchy after Banks sloppily gave the ball away.

Chesterfield and Coalville made changes but there was little change to the pattern of play and the outcome. Many of the Chesterfield fans had drifted away before the final whistle but the away fans stayed to celebrate. Coalville are off to Banbury in the next round but Chesterfield’s two matches highlighted that they have little in depth beyond the first team. Hopefully at the end of the season they will be in with a shout of promotion otherwise these two games will be seen as a waste.

There were 2107 fans there with 287 from Coalville but listening to the reaction in the main stand when they scored I think there were a few more away fans than identified.

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