Chesterfield: Eyes on Spotland for Spireites as top six spot could be sealed

Paul Cook
Paul Cook
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Spireites could see sixth spot cemented tonight without playing.

The only team that can overhaul their 68 point haul, Rochdale, need to beat Leyton Orient at Spotland to retain any interest in the possibility of extending their season.

Dale lost 1-0 at Gillingham on Saturday as Chesterfield picked up a point at Dale’s neighbours, Oldham Athletic, a seventh unbeaten game for Paul Cook’s men, the longest such run of the season coming at just the right time.

Should Keith Hill’s side win this evening, Chesterfield may still need to have to pick up a couple of points in their final two games, providing Rochdale also win their last two matches against MK Dons (H) and Barnsley (A), a big ask in itself for a side with just one win in five games.

In relatively recent times Spireites twice have had promotion confirmed without playing. Back in 1985, John Duncan’s side’s step-up was confirmed when Chester City came from behind to beat Hereford United at Sealand Road and in 2010 John Sheridan’s side had the maths sorted out on Good Friday when Wycombe Wanderers failed to win at Torquay United.

Reaching the play-offs in a similar manner would be wholly acceptable to everyone at the Proact Stadium as, regardless of what happens, Cook’s side has significantly exceeded expectations in a season that, since the big kick-off, has seen him lose key defender Liam Cooper to Leeds United and 25 goal striker Eoin Doyle to Cardiff City.

The close season also saw striker Marc Richards depart, he’s League Two’s second highest scorer this season with Northampton Town and he wasn’t replaced with a like for like player, though attacking midfielder Sam Clucas did come in at the end of the August transfer window.

So reaching the play-offs with a reduced squad the first season after promotion puts Cook’s performance this season at the very vanguard of the country’s managerial achievements this season.