Chesterfield 0 Colchester United 0: Carl Marston’s 4 Talking Points
PUBLISHED: 12:11 31 December 2017
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Carl Marston’s 4 Talking Points after yesterday’s 0-0 draw at Chesterfield.
This was certainly no classic, but both sides will be content with a point, for contrasting reasons.
For the U’s, the stalemate in Derbyshire extended their fine recent run to just two defeats in their last 16 league matches, harking all the way back to late September.
John McGreal’s men have dropped out of the play-off positions, but they are only out of the top seven on goal difference, and a mere three points adrift of the top three.
For Chesterfield, the home draw ended a sequence of three straight defeats. It was also enough for them to sneak out of the relegation zone, due to defeats for fellow strugglers Forest Green Rovers and Barnet, at promotion-chasing Lincoln and Exeter respectively.
This match could have been so different, if chances had been taken at both ends of the pitch inside the first 10 minutes.
The U’s best opportunity of the whole afternoon arrived after just eight minutes, when Sammie Szmodics was all set to celebrate what would have been his 13th goal of the season.
Ryan Jackson, marauding down the right flank, delivered an accurate low cross in the direction of Szmodics, whose well-measured shot was palmed away by keeper Jake Eastwood.
It was a good save by Eastwood, the Sheffield United loanee, but Szmodics has been in such good form in recent weeks that he will be disappointed not to have tucked it away.
Just a minute later and Eastwood’s opposite number, Sam Walker, was saving his own side.
Winger Joe Rowley had acres of space inside the penalty area, but his fierce angled drive was blocked by Walker’s legs.
Of course there were other chances, and on another day Rowley could have had a hat-trick, most notably when he failed to head home from point blank range following Kane Vincent-Young’s sliced clearance on 32 minutes.
In truth, both teams were guilty of wasting chances.
After that early goalmouth flurry, a goal-feast looked on the cards, especially with players like Spireites’ Kristian Dennis (14 goals), Szmodics (12) and Mandron (eight) on the pitch. But it never materialised.
It always helps to stick with an unchanged team, if at all possible, especially when that starting XI is brimming with confidence.
A spate of injuries have usually prevented McGreal, and the managers before him, from selecting a settled side in the last few years.
But on Saturday McGreal was able to name an unchanged side for the fourth successive match. The result has been a haul of eight points from a possible 12, with two wins and two draws.
The likes of Sean Murray and long-term injury victim Kurtis Guthrie are pushing for starts, while centre-half Ryan Inniss and midfielder Doug Loft are both on the way back from shoulder injuries.
McGreal has hinted that he will tinker with his side today, for the U’s fourth game in nine days, but he won’t be making any drastic changes.
Case for the defence
There were fears that the U’s would seriously miss the big physical presence of Inniss, when he suffered his shoulder injury during the 3-1 home win over Exeter, but that has not been the case.
Frankie Kent and Tom Eastman are no strangers to playing alongside each other, but they have both upped their games since Inniss’ absence.
A favoured three-man back-line has been superseded by a flat back four. Eastman has been his usual consistent self, while Kent has been a revelation. Remarkably, Inniss has not been missed.
And on the flanks, Ryan Jackson and Kane Vincent-Young have adapted to their full-back roles. Vincent-Young did not have one of his better days at Chesterfield, making too many mistakes, but for a young right-footer he has filled in well as a left-back.
Future looks bright
While Chesterfield will just be relieved not to suffer a second successive relegation, which would see them disappear out of the Football League, the U’s have far more to look forward to during 2018.
The Essex club are well placed to at least finish in the play-offs, if not the top three. They are bang in form, and have big players like Guthrie, Luke Prosser and Brennan Dickson waiting in the wings to make a late impact.