What a difference a year makes! It was about this time last season where I and a record number of Chesterfield fans were playing the guessing game of when we would be crowned Champions of League Two. The majority of fans are currently playing a similar game, but this time it’s when will we be relegated back to the very same league we topped a season ago.
I’m sure I sit with a minority of fans who are still clinging on to the slim hope of survival. Being a naturally glass half full kind of a guy, I’ve been thinking all season our lucks bound to change and we’ll go on a record breaking run of wins to get ourselves out of this mess. To date it’s obviously not happened and my half full glass is emptying game by game with only the dregs in the bottom left for me to stare into.
After last weekends glory of winning the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Wembley, in what was one of the most memorable days I’ve ever had as a Chesterfield fan, it was back down to earth with a bump on Wednesday night at Bramall Lane. A win was a must following the previous nights results where Walsall had managed to beat Colchester and put us nine points from safety. It was always going to be a big ask only 3 days after the efforts at Wembley, and against a side pushing for a top 2 finish. Apparently we had asked Sheffield United to put the game back a week following the team and fans journey to the capital, but they declined. The Football League favour the home sides opinion in such matters so that was that, we had to play the game. It was no surprise then that after a decent first half performance and going in 1–1 at half time, the players legs (and defending skills it seems) wilted and we ended up on the end of a heavy defeat, losing 4-1.
The result Wednesday night leaves us with seven games left to save our season. With an average of 50 points required for survival in League One over the previous 11 seasons, my mediocre maths skills make that another 17 points needed from the 21 available. In other words promotion form from a side who have only won seven league games all season. I can see those dregs ebbing away as I type!
Our only saving grace and the one thing I’m left clinging on to is our remaining fixtures. Home games against Scunthorpe, Wycombe, Rochdale and Brentford are all winnable. Away trips to Walsall, Yeovil and Hartlepool have in themselves points achievable. The only problem is all the teams other than possibly Brentford are also scrapping for their lives towards the bottom of the league. They probably all have somebody like me writing very similar words and thinking they can be the team to find some form and put a run of wins together. One thing I can say however is nobody has an ‘easier’ run in than we do, ‘easier’ not seeming the right word to use from where we currently sit in the league, but you hopefully get my drift.
So let’s for a moment stick with the idea that we can actually do this. The good old cliche’ ‘take each game as it comes’ springs to mind. First up, Scunthorpe at home. A game that takes on a bit more significance for me due to now living over in North Lincolnshire, in a small village a few miles away from the town famous for its iron. I have the pleasure of commuting each day with Andy, a season ticket holder at Glanford Park, so am kept up to date with the goings on and fortunes of the club.
Following their relegation from the Championship last season, they were obviously looking to be one of the promotion contenders this year. Alan Knill has however taken a lot longer than most fans would have liked to put together a side capable of competing in this division. They have been this seasons draw specialists and that has been one of the reasons they’ve ended up joining the relegation battle party. Recent results have however given them a bit of breathing space and a couple more wins should see them safe. It is obviously a must win game for us.
Our recent form and general play has been good and in my opinion not befitting a team propping up the division. I am convinced if the current side had started the season, we would be mid-table and looking to build for next season. Unfortunately we had that eighteen game run without a win that’s seen us where we are today and now nothing can change that. A win against Scunthorpe would take us to Walsall in high spirits and still with a glimmer of hope that it could just happen. A defeat or a draw and will the last one out of the ground please turn off the League One lights!
Written by Dean Mansell, We Are Going Up’s Chesterfield Blogger & editor of the Away End website.
Dean tweets at @awayend