Spireites will be hard to topple

Monday 10th February 2014 20:47

Paul Cook: Has healthy competition for places

Paul Cook: Has healthy competition for places

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Chesterfield FanZoner Tom Bates believes the Spireites are well-equipped to maintain their League Two promotion charge.

Paul Cook was delighted to see his Chesterfield side maintain their lead at the top of League Two following the top-of-the-table clash against fellow title contenders Scunthorpe United at Glanford Park last Saturday, when the Spireites came away with a creditable 1-1 draw.

Comfortable back-to-back away wins recently at struggling Northampton Town (3-1) and lowly York City (2-0), followed by another three points at home to Bristol Rovers (3-1) kept the promotion pot boiling, whilst sandwiched in-between was the excellent 3-1 win at Fleetwood Town in the first leg of the JPT Northern Final, and suddenly the Spireites are beginning to fulfil their early season promise as prospective champions.

After a bit of a stutter which saw them drop as low as fifth in a very tight league table following a couple of postponements, and then following the 4-0 win at home to Bury and losing 3-0 at Southend in their worst display of the season, the Spireites have been firing on all cylinders. The defeat at Southend acted as a 'wake-up' call, and seemed to galvanize the players to greater effort, and with the season already well past the half-way mark Paul Cook's team's strength in depth is now beginning to show with some impressive performances.

But "by heck, lad, it's tight at 'top!" with each of the top seven clubs having purple patches in turn, but from here on in, the winners and losers will be decided by consistency; by whichever of the leading clubs can sustain their purple patch the longest, and the Spireites are now well equipped to stay the course and emerge with the spoils at the end of the season.

The reasons why many believe this to be the case is because Cook has finally completed the jigsaw with the addition to his squad of Ollie Banks and Dan Gardner, both of whom were snatched from the lower leagues and have been a revelation since their respective debuts - with the added bonus of both getting on the scoresheet.

With a settled defence ably marshalled by skipper Ian Evatt alongside Liam Cooper and the evergreen Ritchie Humphreys, even the recent absence through injury of the versatile Drew Talbot has not caused any imbalance thanks to replacement Tandayi Darikwa standing in at right-back. Now with Talbot fit again, and players of the calibre of Sam Hird, Sam Togwell and James O'Shea waiting in the wings, Cook has an abundance of quality midfielders with Darikwa vying for a place alongside Morsy, Ryan, Roberts and Co. With the addition of Banks and Gardner, and the return of star man Gary Roberts and strikers Richards and Doyle to full fitness - and goalscoring form, and Gnanduillet on the bench as a very able substitute to freshen things up when required, suddenly the balance looks right.

Whether Cook plays a 4-4-2 system or three at the back and five across midfield as he did away at Northampton and York, his squad now has the flexibility and the right blend to control games, and the firepower - especially on the break - to penetrate the best defences in the league.

With a fully-fit squad Cook has healthy competition all over the pitch for places in the starting line-up, and whichever team he chooses, the players on the pitch play with a greater confidence knowing that there's quality on the bench; this kind of confidence is evident throughout at the Proact Stadium and radiates directly from the manager, through the players, to the supporters, all of whom believe that now they've hit the top, the Spireites will be extremely difficult to topple!

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