Column: Spireites' fate rests in their own hands and there can be no excuses

Chesterfield may be staring down the barrel of consecutive relegations but their fate still rests in their own hands '“ so there's no one else to blame if the unthinkable occurs.

Wednesday, 14th March 2018, 8:48 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th March 2018, 9:58 am
Picture Andrew Roe/AHPIX LTD, Football, EFL Sky Bet League Two, Chesterfield v Cambridge United, Proact Stadium, 13/02/18, K.O 7.45pm Chesterfield's Louis Reed and Laurence Maguire battle with Cambridge's Uche Ikpeazu Andrew Roe>>>>>>>07826527594

There are 11 games to go in the League Two season for Town and crucially, that’s two more than another pair involved in the dog fight.

Even more important is the fact that the Spireites still have to face both Barnet and Grimsby before the season is done.

Victory in those games in hand would be enough to overtake Barnet and bring Grimsby to within a point, allowing Jack Lester’s men to leapfrog the Mariners with a win at Blundell Park.

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It might sound simple, but in reality it’s going to be very difficult.

The general consensus seems to be that five wins and a couple of draws would see the Spireites to safety.

That task is made to sound like an ever more uphill struggle by the fact that they’ve only won five of their last 17 league games.

Of the remaining fixtures, only four will take place at the Proact and they’re all against teams in the top half of the table.

Three of those home games will see promotion hopefuls visit Sheffield Road.

That in itself isn’t a huge problem, Chesterfield have fared quite well against the ‘better’ sides in the division this season.

They beat Exeter and Luton, should have beaten Mansfield and may well have got something from Notts County had it not been for an incorrect and later rescinded red card.

Four of the away trips they’ve got to make are to teams they’ve already conquered once this season, namely Port Vale, Forest Green, Exeter and Barnet.

It stands to reason that the squad should hope and perhaps even believe they can do the same again.

It’s hard for anyone else to believe, however.

What this squad appears to lack is that sheer bloodyminded refusal to lose.

That mental desire and physical capability to win the back post header and stop the other team from scoring, for example, wasn’t there on Saturday when they were, eventually, squashed by those bigger boys from Lincoln.

It’s when games get gritty and physical that Chesterfield look like little lost lambs.

That sentence might sting a little, if read by any of the players or staff at this club.

It should hurt, that there’s a widely-held belief, based on the facts, that they can’t cope with the rough and tumble of League Two football.

Teams like Cambridge, Wycombe, Stevenage and Lincoln have all bested the Spireites in a battle of strength.

Now there is an argument that Chesterfield have simply been outgunned, that they just don’t have the personnel to deal with the Michael Bostwicks, Uche Ikpeazus and Adebayo Akinfenwas of this world.

That’s clearly a recruitment issue, one that hasn’t exactly been helped by the incredible number of injuries, the absence of warriors like Ian Evatt and players with a bit of physical presence like Giles Coke.

But with the January window disappearing from the rear view mirror, this is the land of the giants in which Town find themselves and it’s up to them to survive.

It’s down to the players to get their on-field decision making spot on and fight tooth and nail for absolutely everything, because their Football League lives do depend on it.

It’s down to Jack Lester and his staff to get their motivational meetings, selections, tactics and substitutions just right.

They have been in charge for 29 games now – the same number afforded to Gary Caldwell.

The Scot only managed three wins, Lester and co have guided the club to just eight.

Having been allowed to bring 11 players in during the transfer window, the management team can now expect to receive their fair share of criticism.

Lester, to his credit, has admitted as much.

The league status is so much more important than the ego of any individual and perhaps it is amid a hail of bruising questions and an atmosphere of opprobrium that a siege mentality will finally set in and bring the fight out of this team.

They they tell us they’re fit and being prepared properly and they tell us they’re good enough.

There can be no excuses, it’s time to prove it.