THERE may have been many grumbling about Chesterfield’s performance at the b2net on Saturday, but nobody left the ground as unhappy as manager John Sheridan.
It was a below-par performance against a team in the league below and Chesterfield never really looked like the better side and still have the shameful record of not beating league opposition in the FA Cup since their incredible run to the sem- final in 1997.
Sheridan was scathing of his players afterwards and is concerned about the manner in which they are leaking goals, now 20 in just eight games.
He said: “I won’t accept a performance like that, especially at home and against a team from a lower league.
“I just think the goals we conceded were very, very poor. The players look like they’ve never played together and you’d think I’d never coached them to defend properly. The goals have come again from us having the ball and giving it away and it’s very cheap.”
The visitors took the lead on 20 minutes. Former Chesterfield loanee Ian Morris, who looked dangerous throughout his time on the pitch, started the build up that lead to Danny Stevens’ tap-in.
It had been the first real chance of the game but Chesterfield almost replied through the in-form Jordan Bowery. He and Leon Clarke showed glimpses of being able to link up well together and, after Clarke had flicked on a hopeful ball, Bowery took advantage of Bobby Olejnik’s spill and was unlucky that Joe Oastler was alert enough to clear his goalbound effort.
Bowery has been the shining light for Chesterfield recently and he grabbed his fifth goal in three games to level scores up in the second half. The academy graduate rose highest to direct Craig Westcarr’s looping cross into the bottom corner with a firm header on the hour mark.
From then on Chesterfield were in the ascendency but were sucker-punched when Morris put in Rene Howe and, after holding off Dwayne Mattis, he planted his shot through Soderberg for his eighth of the season.
There could have been no complaints about Torquay’s third, though. Full-back Kevin Nicholson bent in a stunning free-kick from distance and the game was up.
After the Johnstone’s Paint win over Tranmere midweek it was hoped that the cup was offering some form of respite for the Spireites who are also suffering in the league, without a win since mid-September.
The lack of confidence within the side is there for all to see. Good opportunities were spurned with both Clarke and Mark Allott firing straight at the keeper when in good positions.
Torquay, on the back of three straight league wins, made the most of their chances and that’s why they won the game.
A self-critical Sheridan believes that the problem lies within the psyche of his players.
“I picked a team and I looked at it on paper and I thought that it looked like a strong team, but it didn’t look like a strong side out on the pitch,” he said.
“So whether I picked the right team or not, I’ll question myself over that. They’ve all played at a very high level and played a lot of games but they’re not mentally strong.”
Chesterfield: Soderberg 6, Talbot 7, Trotman 6, Mattis 6, Grounds 6, Allott 6, Whitaker 7, Mendy 7, Bowery 7, Westcarr 6, Clarke 6. Subs: Smith for Mattis 79. Clay for Clarke 82.
Torquay: Olejnik 6, Oastler 7, Saah 7, Ellis 7, Nicholson 7, Mansell 7, Lathrope 6, O’Kane 6, Morris 8, Howe 7, Stevens 7. Subs: McPhee for Morris 74. Rowe-Turner for 83. Atieno for Howe 85.
Scorers: Bowery 59, for Chesterfield; Stevens 20, Howe 72, Nicholson 88, for Torquay.
Referee: Carl Berry (Surrey).
Bookings: Morris (Torquay), unsporting behaviour.