Back in the top seven: Chesterfield 1-3 Imps

The Stacey West would like to send our best wishes to the victim of the incident this afternoon that resulted in the air ambulance attendance. we hope you have a speedy recovery.

On a rather strange afternoon, City have emerged as 3-1 victors to force a place back into the top seven. Ahead of Tuesday’s game we looked to be floundering, losing a grip on the play off race. Now, just a few days later, we’re back in mix and looking forward to the visit of an out of sorts Grimsby side. It won’t be easy, but at the moment would you bet against us?

After the broken opening to the game, both teams could be forgiven for making first half mistakes. 25 dominant minutes for City were broken up by a medical emergency that put football into perspective. The long delay for the air ambulance to arrive broke up the rhythm of the game but after, Chesterfield found their stride much quicker than we did. They scored from a looping header, it was a weak goal to concede, but we conceded it and there’s no point crying over spilt milk. To go a goal down in the first half usually means we go in down at the break. City don’t typically score in the first half, but luckily Michael Bostwick had other ideas, levelling before half time to become the first player to score in an away game first half for City since Matt Green against Luton on New Year’s Day.

I didn’t think we ever looked bad to be honest, I’ve seen some criticism on social media but I thought we looked decent. I like us in a 4-3-3, it won’t be the case all of the time as we have lots of wingers, but for now it gives us a different feel. Elliott thrived in his rare start too, whilst we’re switching to the narrower set up he might get more chances. He showed some great work rate today and whilst I’m not sure has the pass to unlock a game, he certainly has enough endeavour to make him a cult hero, of sorts.

After the break the disruption was put behind us and we’d taken stock at the break, there was only ever going to be one winner. Scott Wharton might only be a youngster, a footnote to the transfer deadline day during which we hoped for a striker, but he popped up with a bullet header that I’m not sure any striker could have bettered. Scott had a superb afternoon, he’s strong and quick and has a huge career ahead of him. Danny talks with as much passion about his future as he did Sean Raggett’s, so who knows what might happen. I know one thing, there was never any doubt what the outcome was going to be once he’d scored.

I thought we looked far more threatening once the pressure of the result was taken away as well. Matt Green worked hard but didn’t get a lot of joy, which will only fuel those demands from fans to play Ollie Palmer from the start. Of course, Palmer did himself the world of good coming off the bench (again) and scoring (again). Fair play to Ollie, that’s two in two now and he’s probably had no more than half an hour on the pitch.

I worry for the Spireites. I don’t want to see them go down, they’re a team close to us and always a big draw for the fans, but I can’t see a way back for them. They don’t have a threat up front, they looked terrified of set pieces all afternoon and quite how they beat Swindon I don’t know. Incidentally, Swindon were thumped again today, they look to be collapsing after the manager merry-go-round, perhaps we ought to write Evans a letter of thanks.

He’s becoming a fans’ favourite. Mr Palmer (courtesy of Graham Burrell)

Special mention to the big man Matt Rhead again, not always getting the run of the green today, but he’s such a handful. So many fans felt he’d struggle to get up to speed in the Football League, he’s proven everybody wrong. Again. I’m surprised that we’ve seen two defences in five days that don’t seem able to deal with him. They know what is coming, but with us going 4-3-3 it makes it hard to double up. If a team does, they need to pull both full backs in and it narrows their play too. It’s a conundrum and one of the reasons we might have swapped.

Back to that 4-3-3, another reason we’ve tried to switch formation could be in order to accommodate Lee Frecklington, a player who perhaps didn’t stand out again today but we know is high quality. If that is the reason, a side product is that teams don’t know exactly how to prepare for us at the minute. Most of the video evidence will show us playing two wingers, so to go without is a real shock to most. It relies a lot on our full backs often handling two men, especially when facing a 4-4-2, but Neal Eardley has no problems with that at all. Sam looks comfortable in the role too, I’m also delighted for Sam to lay on two of the goals, his set pieces haven’t been great recently so that’ll be a big boost too.

We’ve got a small squad, but some of the fringe players are showing they’ve got far more value than some might believe. Scott Wharton was superb, Elliott came in and did well, Jordan Williams has turned in two decent shifts and obviously Ollie Palmer is a case point.

I’ve kept it a little brief tonight, I’ve got to head out for a nice meal in Belchford, but I do so with a huge smile on my face. I’m sensing a Wembley double, a little dress rehearsal in front of 25,000+ before the main event, 30,000 down in London at the end of May kicking Mansfield Town all over Wembley and back up the M1.

Keep the faith, up the Imps.