Preview: Chesterfield

We got the result against Port Vale, and after some hard luck stories in recent weeks, that was the most important thing. Now the task is to get another win to build some momentum heading into the new year.

The performance against Port Vale left plenty to be desired, starting sluggishly and in real danger of letting the game slip away before we eventually found our nerve. We saw in that game that we’re decent enough defensively, even in a bit of an off day, to restrict an average League One side to a very small amount of chances in most games and have that extra bit of quality in the final third to make that defensive competency count.

Until his introduction, we really missed Jim O’Brien‘s energy in midfield as we struggled to put pressure on Port Vale higher up the pitch. The decision not to play him was most likely with this away game just two days afterwards in mind and having got the result without him starting, it was a calculated gamble that came off.

Possible Line-Up
Possible Line-Up

Given Tony Mowbray’s penchant for rotating the side during these congested runs of games, I would expect to see at least two other changes to the starting line-up from the Port Vale game. I would guess that one of those changes would be to start with Marc-Antoine Fortuné with Armstrong either moved into a wide position or onto the bench. As much as many fans despair at his inclusion nowadays, this seems like one of those games where Fortuné could make a real impact.

Elsewhere, Joe Cole is almost certain to be rested having looked notably blustered from 20 minutes onwards against Port Vale. It may still be too soon to actually start James Maddison in Joe Cole’s place but it’s likely that we will see him introduced earlier. Which would probably leave Ryan Kent and Jacob Murphy competing for a starting sport in the side..

Finally, there’s a chance that John Fleck could return to the starting line-up for this game depending on how fit Tony Mowbray sees him as being. We know that Gael Bigirimana is an able back-up but there is no doubting that we do lose something without Fleck in the side.

Last Time We Met

For the first time in the league this season, we play a side that we’ve already faced earlier on in the campaign. Back in September Chesterfield travelled to the Ricoh Arena to face a Sky Blues side still learning their own strength. Coventry City dominated much of the 90 minutes but it took until the 50th minute for Adam Armstrong to put away one of the many chances that we created. The game was also notable for a sending off for Chesterfield’s Mani Dieseruvwe who inexplicably punched the ball.

This trip to Chesterfield is also the first time we’ve travelled there since the Sky Blues won 3-2 back in March to secure Tony Mowbray’s first win as manager. Marcus Tudgay opened the scoring and Frank Nouble managed a goal and assist in the second-half which proved to be the difference between the two sides. Only one player from that side, Aaron Martin, played in the Port Vale game.

How Are They Doing?

It’s been a tumultuous season for Chesterfield, who finished last season in the play-offs. After losing the influential manager Paul Cook to Portsmouth in the summer, almost every decent player from last season’s side was sold off. Cook was replaced by Dean Saunders, a deeply unpopular appointment, and key players were replaced by freebies and loan players.

Things started off well enough for Chesterfield who thrashed then hotly-tipped Barnsley on the opening day of the season. The mistrust between the fans and the owners for the club’s actions of the summer though proved to not be conducive to maintaining that decent start and things began to deteriorate from the autumn onwards. Saunders has since been sacked, with the side four points above the relegation zone, and after a protracted recruitment process former player Danny Wilson was appointed as his replacement.

Today’s game is Wilson’s first in charge of Chesterfield which will give them an element of the unknown about them, although Wilson will realistically have only had a maximum of two days to convey his ideas to his new side. Danny Wilson generally gets his sides playing decent enough football, although they have a habit of being somewhat goal-shy.

Possible Line-Up
Possible Line-Up

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake is an easy to recognise name in Chesterfield’s squad and he is their top scorer this season with seven goals. He has though struggled for service of late, failing to score in his last six appearances for the side. The bigger danger could well be Jay O’Shea on the wing who is skilfull and a good set-piece taker, which looks to be Chesterfield’s best bet for getting on the scoresheet in this game.

Sam Morsy will return to the side in midfield after a two-match ban for picking up his 10th yellow card of the season. A creative deep-lying player with an excellent range of passing, he is one of the few remaining stars from the recent happy times at Chesterfield. Another important player is Tommy Lee in goal who is coming up to 300 league appearances at the club and is one of the better keepers at this level of football.


The new manager effect at Chesterfield makes this a tougher game to call than it might otherwise be. Danny Wilson might attempt to shut up shop as a safety-first measure before he really gets to know his squad or he might decide that this is something of a free hit and get his players to express themselves, what impact that approach will have on the players is anyone’s guess. Regardless of whatever reaction there is from the Chesterfield players, this game is all about us demonstrating just why we’re competing at the top of the division.

Other than the random factor of Chesterfield’s new manager, there is little reason really not to think we can go out and win this game fairly easily. I am predicting a 3-1 win for the Sky Blues.

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