Spireites can still make play-offs

Sunday 7th April 2013 11:03

Paul Cook: Has Chesterfield in a good position

Paul Cook: Has Chesterfield in a good position

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Chesterfield's FanZone blogger Tom Bates has renewed hope the Spireites could reach the League Two play-offs after a recent upturn in form.

With seven games to go after the 2-1 defeat at Torquay last month, Chesterfield found themselves in a position where making the play-offs seemed a forlorn hope.

However, heartened by the team's recent run of good results, that dwindling hope has been rekindled, and everyone at the Proact Stadium is beginning to believe that there could still be a twist in the tail-end of the season as dramatic as that of the town's famous Crooked Spire!

After ending Burton Albion's record run of 11 consecutive home wins with another 1-0 victory to add to those at Dagenham & Redbridge and Oxford United, the Spireites then had another three points snatched away with four minutes to go when the division's top marksman, Tom Pope, equalised for high-flying Port Vale in the pulsating 2-2 draw at the Proact last week.

They followed this up with a excellent 2-0 win away at Barnet on Saturday, and, with teams above beginning to falter, the Spireites are now within one win of the play-off places with just four games to go, and on current form cannot be ruled out.

Following the disappointment at Torquay the Spireites had reached a stage where another defeat would have extinguish all hopes of breaking into the top seven; the chips were really down and they could not afford to lose another game. Faced with this prospect, the players have responded with a renewed determination to succeed and have begun to show the signs of progress which the new manager has been looking for.

But is it too late? Many will doubtless speculate that at the rate of progress since Paul Cook took the helm last October, had he been in charge from the start of the season we might well have been in the running for automatic promotion at this late stage.

The players he's brought in are literally beginning to find their feet, and along with the resurgence of Neal Trotman and his inspired return to form since being listed, the additions of Connor Townsend and Liam Cooper alongside Hird, Brindley and Smith has added stability and made for a much more resolute defence in front of the excellent Tommy Lee.

Tandayi Darikwa has been a revelation, and along with Danny Whitaker and the versatile Drew Talbot adds width and quality on either flank, and fluidity to a midfield bolstered by Sam Togwell, Mark Randall and Craig Clay.

There's a healthy competition for places now that Cook's squad has a bit more strength in depth, which bodes well for the future.

With the recent injury to Marc Richards likely to keep him sidelined, Cook has recalled Scott Boden from his loan spell at Alfreton but still seems short on fire-power alongside Jay O'Shea at such a critical time of the season. We've seen brief flashes of what Armand Gnanduillette has to offer - when he's been available - but little of Jordan Clark or Alex Henshall, and with Jack Lester being used sparingly and mainly as a late impact player from the bench, Cook knows he needs a striker - and he knows who he wants!

The manager has already stated that he has a certain striker in mind who has agreed to come to the club, but right now that looks like a prospect we'll have to look forward to for next season, so the responsibility for the final run-in rests with the players who have brought us this far.

The immediate status of the club depends on them, and of the four remaining games the Spireites play two of the teams immediately above them, Bradford City at home next, and faltering Exeter City at home in the final game of the season.

Sandwiched in-between are the re-arranged home game against John Sheridan's struggling Plymouth Argyle, and a visit to Fleetwood Town, who have been in free-fall lately.

If Cook's men can maintain their current form, then these four remaining vital games are all winnable - and his team can still make the play-offs.

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