Boston United host Chesterfield on Wednesday with a place in the FA Trophy's last 16 at stake. The Derbyshire Times' Liam Norcliffe gives the lowdown on the Spireites and what the Pilgrims can expect when they face their in-form National League opponents at the Jakemans Community Stadium...
How would you sum up Chesterfield's season so far?
A season of two halves so far. The first eight games saw Chesterfield win just twice and lose the other six, somehow managing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in a number of those games with a lot of late goals conceded.
Manager John Pemberton left by mutual consent and the Spireites appointed James Rowe from National League North leaders, Gloucester City as their next boss. His arrival, along with some new signings (eight already) resulted in the Blues winning five of their first six under him, including five clean sheets on the bounce.
They lost late on against Solihull Moors last time out and they are currently isolating for the second time in the last month following positive Covid tests in the camp. The FA Trophy tie will be their first game back.
What are the realistic aims for the season?
After two seasons of battling relegation for the most part, most Chesterfield fans would have settled for a mid-table finish and some stability. Although the Blues are currently 17th, they are 10 points clear of the relegation zone and just four points off the play-offs with games in hand.
I firmly believe with the way they have been playing along with the quality they have brought in, a play-off charge is possible.
What style of play can we expect from Chesterfield?
High energy, pressing from the front and plenty of shots. Under Rowe, they have averaged about 18 shots a game and have swarmed opposition teams, as Barnet found out when the Spireites hit them for six. Rowe is an attack-minded manager and because they are always on the front foot, that has helped improve their defensive record massively.
Who are the key players to watch?
Tom Whelan signed from Weymouth when Rowe came in and he has been outstanding. He's an all action central midfielder who is key to everything they do.
Alongside him Jak McCourt provides a calming influence and an excellent passing range. Up front, towering striker Tom Denton has eight goals this season and is effective in both boxes. His strike partner Akwasi Asante scored a hat-trick in the win against Barnet, and provides Chesterfield with an outball with his power and pace.
What weaknesses do Chesterfield have?
Conceding late goals was a big problem at the start of the season under Pemberton but that has not been as much of a concern under Rowe, apart from in their last match against Solihull. If it wasn't for those late goals, they would be right up there.
Would a cup run be beneficial or a distraction?
Rowe has made it clear that the league is the priority, but with finances tight, the prize money from a good run in the cup would be welcome.
I'll go for Chesterfield to win 1-0.
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