Chesterfield FanZoner Tom Bates says recent results do not point to a side that are going up this season.
Lack of consistency is costing Spireites dear
At half time during this so-far unpredictable season the Spireites sat in ninth place, one point from the play-off places, and it seemed that Paul Cook had the ingredients for his side to mount a challenge for promotion.
Indeed, the manager has recently reiterated his claim that his sights are firmly set on promotion this season, but the fact remains that the scintillating 2-0 win at Vale Park remains the highlight (and high-point) of the season to date, and after that four game winning run Chesterfield's rise up the table has ground to a halt with just one win in the last six matches, culminating in Saturday's dismal 1-2 defeat at Wycombe Wanderers.
So what now of Cook's promotion ambitions? Perhaps it's time for a reality check.
Since the 3-0 victory over a poor York City side on Boxing Day the Spireites have picked up one solitary point from a possible nine and sit in mid-table, four points adrift of the play-off places, and unless Cook finds a winning recipe very soon the Spireites look destined for nothing better than mid-table mediocrity.
The defeat at former club Accrington must have been a bitter pill for Cook to swallow, but as far as the fans are concerned it was no more tasteless than the recent home draws against Burton Albion and Morecambe - and even they were more palatable than the previous home defeats to Dagenham & Redbridge, Fleetwood Town and Barnet.
Perhaps our 'progress' can be measured by the fact that a decade or so ago none of these six clubs were even in the football league, and many True-Blue Supporters will agree that if we can't beat the likes of Burton, Morecambe, Fleetwood and the others at home, then we're going nowhere, and any talk of promotion is simply pie-in-the-sky.
Of course, we also need to stop shooting ourselves in the foot and cut out the red cards; with such restricted financial resources a club like Chesterfield cannot afford to lose either its leading goalscorer or one of its better loanee players to a three-game suspension, (although Connor Townsend may be counted unfortunate to be sent-off for such an innocuous challenge!)
Hope Springs Eternal for the Old Unpredictables!
However, 'hope springs eternal' - as it has always done for long-suffering Spireites supporters - and the permanent signing of Liam Cooper from Hull City is a positive step in the right direction, but 'one swallow doth not a summer make' and it is hoped that the imminent departures of Forbes, Trotman, Westcarr, Jack Waddle and Scott Boden will allow Cook to strengthen his squad further before the transfer window closes. One or two quality replacements can make all the difference, and Cook can get his promotion ambitions back on track, but he must act quickly.
All is not (yet) lost for the division this season is such that two or three straight wins could see us in the play-off positions, but the emphasis has to be on consistency, a vital ingredient which Chesterfield lack - and have always lacked. The old footballing adage that 'winning at home and drawing away will get you promotion' remains true, and Cook's first priority must be to make the Proact Stadium a fortress.
We are at a stage in the season when we can't afford any more slip ups, and our next three games against in-form Northampton Town (home), Torquay (away) and Southend (home) are vital 'must win' games if Cook and his men are to continue to harbour any hopes of promotion. Unless of course, we lose all three - and then go fifteen games unbeaten to the end of the season!