Why, oh why do they do it to us? Just when your making peace with the fact that relegation is coming, that peace is shattered by a change of luck we’ve been hoping and praying for all season. The hope that disappeared the day Scunthorpe left town is back, and growing by the day. Two wins on the trot, one away at Hartlepool, the other at home to Rochdale, have given us the belief that this thing could actually happen, we could evade the trap door and live to fight another day in League One.
The home win on Saturday at home to Rochdale was the kind of win we’ve sadly missed all season. Taking three points in a game we never should have, all too often this season it’s been the other way around. The results elsewhere also went our way which again, has not happened too often this season.
The team lined up with the same midfield that started the two previous victories. The central midfield combination of Franck Moussa, Mark Randall and Jimmy Juan, has finally see us compete in midfield and allow the team to win and more importantly keep the ball. Jimmy Juan has added bite and another layer of protection to the back four. Mark Randall’s creativity and invention has been so badly missed this season. It’s a shame his fitness has not allowed John Sheridan to utilise it more often.
With Neil Trotman out injured, the ever-reliable Simon Ford stepped in to partner Josh Thompson in central defence. Both sides came into the game knowing only win was good enough to avoid relegation. The rest was up to Walsall and Leyton Orient.
Rochdale made the far better start to the game. They looked like a side fighting for their League One lives, we didn’t. Our midfield were not imposing themselves like they had in the Wycombe game and Jordan Bowery couldn’t make the ball stick. We were back to the Scunthorpe performance, I could only see one winner.
John Sheridan continued with his new sitting down on the bench technique to watch the game. It had worked in the previous two games so why wouldn’t it today. You could see he was itching to launch himself to the sideline and shout out instructions but instead left that to Tommy Wright. A Mark Randall effort on goal was our only one of note all half. Was the pressure getting to the players? The same pressure had been their in the previous two games so couldn’t really be an excuse. To make maters worse, a Rochdale corner resulted in a head injury to Simon Ford who was forced to leave the game early and was replaced by the fit again Gregor Robertson, it was good to see him back.
The news of both Walsall and Leyton Orient wining seemed to confirm our fears, it was looking like today our luck would finally run out and relegation was heading our way. The mood amongst the fans at half time was low. It was looking like we would bow out of the division with a whimper. Changes to the side for the second half were being called for, let’s at least give it a go.
The same eleven started the second half and a little brighter, no doubt with Sheridan’s words still ringing in their ears. The bright start didn’t last long though and the pattern of the first half returned. Rochdale looked like the only side capable of creating a chance. John Sheridan had seen enough and made his final throw of the dice. The super subs from the win against Hartlepool made their entrance. Danny Whittaker on for Craig Westcarr and a few minutes later, Scott Boden for Mark Randall. The formation reverted to John Sheridan’s favourite 4-4-2 with Scott Boden partnering Jordan Bowery up front and Danny Whittaker going to left midfield.
Whittaker looked sharp and hungry for the ball. Testament to a player who has suffered at the hands of the fans this season. I’m sure he’ll be the first to admit he’s not had the best of seasons. The treatment he received however from some sections of the crowd was outrageous. Scott Boden always looked lively and always does, many thought he deserved a place in the starting eleven after his performances in the last two games.
Before the team had chance to settle in the new line=up, Rochdale scored on 72 minutes. Striker Akpa Akpro burst into life, running at Josh Thompson who seemed to back off and back off until it was too late and Akpro guided the ball past Tommy Lee.
That really was that then. A goal down, the team playing awful and results elsewhere not going well. At that moment, I’m sure nobody in the ground gave us a chance. I certainly didn’t and thought it was time we were put out of our misery. News of an equaliser for Exeter against Walsall somehow made it worse. Were other results going to turn, only to see us blow it?
With the scoreboard showing 79 minutes, time was running out. The news of another goal for Exeter briefly lifted the crowd. Could we muster one last effort to get the win?
The effort finally began – a great cross from Gregor Robertson was won in the air by Jordan Bowery who directed the ball towards goal. Scott Boden pounced and with the slightest of touches, scored from close range. With renewed vigour and purpose, the team pushed forward, Rochdale were on the ropes. All of a sudden it was wave after wave of Chesterfield attack.
On 84 minutes we put together probably our best move of the game. A neat set of passes led to a bit of space for Danny Whittaker who found Franck Moussa on the edge of the box. We’ve already seen his shooting abilities since his arrival on loan from Leicester, I was hoping he’d pull the trigger. He didn’t need to be asked twice, a right foot thunderbolt struck the bar and bounced back out into the path of Danny Whittaker. He seemed to stumble at first then somehow regain his footing before slotting the ball home.
The roof lifted off the B2net amid fantastic scenes. A subdued celebration from Danny Whittaker probably reflected his recent frustrations. All was forgiven Danny, you were back in favour with the boo boys!
The final whistle blew meaning Rochdale were relegated. The result had not reflected their performance, no doubt about that, but we know all too well this season it’s not always about the performance. News confirming Walsall’s defeat and an injury time equaliser for Yeovil at Leyton Orient meant we had survived and were still in with a shout of performing a miracle.
If we are to beat the drop, then wins in our remaining two games of the season are a must. An away trip to Yeovil first, followed by the last game at home to Brentford. The results of Wycombe, Walsall and Leyton Orient also need to go our way for us to have a chance.
It all sounds very unlikely, but then again it did two games ago against Wycombe. If our luck finally has turned, funnier things have happened in football, lets hope we are the ones who end up having the last laugh.
Now where’s a good place to stay in Yeovil…?
Written by Dean Mansell, We Are Going Up’s Chesterfield Blogger & editor of the Away End website.
Dean tweets at @awayend