By Jeff Brazier
Fans favourite makes his return to the Chesterfield dug-out.
It’s been a testing time for the Spireites, not knowing exactly why they have lost James Rowe and the concern that created around their title challenge. However, the club have just announced the re-appointment of Paul Cook, most recently employed by Ipswich until December and it’s exactly what the fans wanted. Looking into his first spell at the club as manager 7 years ago explains why. In his first full season he guided them to the League 2 title in 2013-14 and followed that with a League 1 Play-Off finish where they were beaten by eventual winners Preston North End.
Outside of that appointment, he has won the League 2 title a second time with Portsmouth in 2017 and won the League 1 title with Wigan in 2018, so if he can get Chesterfield out of the National League this season, here’s a manager that knows how to find his way into the Championship. Danny Webb’s spell as caretaker came to a successful end, collecting 7 points from his 3 games in the dugout. That point against Stockport signals that the title will go down to the wire. Cook comes in with Chesterfield sitting just a point behind leaders Stockport with a game in hand and a trip to Weymouth to look forward to on Saturday and the club announced that Webb will stay on as a part of Cook’s team.
It's not all good news though. Jeff King was shown a straight red on Tuesday night and unless an appeal is successful will miss the next 3 games against Weymouth, Solihull and Wrexham. King missed Eastleigh away recently due to
the accumulation of 5 yellow cards so this will come as a huge blow as they evidently miss him when he’s not pulling on the shirt.
Boreham Wood heap more pride on the National League
Boreham Wood have deserved all the acclaim they’ve received since beating Championship Bournemouth in the 4th round of the FA Cup, so here’s a little more from me. You just knew that if they could get a goal that they would be incredibly difficult to break down. We’ve seen in the National League all season how they’ve managed games out using all of their experience to frustrate and restrict opponents, so it came as little surprise that they managed to hold onto that lead at the Vitality. Their win was just another reminder to the EFL that the National League is outgrowing its non-league status and that at some point the third promotion place it deserves needs to be addressed.
Kane Smith’s dream came true as he paraded his Tony Hibbert number 2 Everton shirt after the final whistle. To play at Goodson in the 5th Round must be absolutely blowing his mind but to get there without conceding too is just fairy tale stuff!
I enjoyed seeing how emotional Luke Garrard was too. Imagine all of that hard work, the blood, sweat and tears he has no doubt put into the job he has done at Boreham Wood being rewarded by the footballing gods with that 5th round tie versus a huge Premier League club. It’ll be a fascinating game because if anyone can do something unthinkable, it’s them. I hope it doesn’t detract from their National League campaign in any way. They’re sitting in 5th, 6 points behind Stockport but with 4 games in hand. It’s FA Trophy for them this weekend though with a difficult 5th round tie away to Wrexham to bring them back down to earth.
Shrimpers are climbing the ladder but how far can they go?
Southend have had their fair share of challenges on and off the pitch this season but since the appointment of Kevin Maher, Darren Currie and Mark Bentley they have exceeded expectations and are currently on a run of 8 unbeaten that you
just can’t ignore.
The most recent 2-0 win at home to Bromley in front of 8000 fans really got my attention. They’re now 18 points above the relegation places that they recently occupied and after taking 20 points from a possible 24 they’ve landed in 13th with just 11 points between themselves and Wrexham in 7th. The travelling support they take with them has always been one of the strongest of any of the teams in the 5th tier and Matthew Dennis’s 7 goals in his last 9 games is just one of the reasons they’re starting to dare to dream about turning the season on its head and compete for those play-off places. They play Woking away in the Vanarama this Saturday in BT Sport’s live 5.20pm Kick Off and could climb to 11th with a win. Woking have been inconsistent at best but if they take another 2000 down to the Laithwaite Community Stadium you couldn’t see beyond another Southend win.
Here are my predictions for Saturday:
Barnet v Wealdstone
The reverse of the Brennan-Maynard grudge. Maynard got the upper hand last
time and I fancy them to do it again. Barnet will be hurting from that 6-1 defeat to Notts County. Away Win
Dover v Torquay
I’m convinced Torquay will arrive in the frame for a play-off position and would back anyone v Dover at the minute who haven’t been able to repeat that win v Eastleigh in their last 2 attempts. Away Win
Eastleigh v Yeovil
Thought Yeovil were going to kick on like Torquay but losing to Wealdstone
suggests not. Letting Quigley go to Chesterfield might have been an offer they couldn’t refuse but it’ll have left them lighter, so I’ll go with Eastleigh at home even though they haven’t replaced Strevens yet. Home win
Grimsby v Aldershot
The Mariners are 3 unbeaten and whilst Aldershot have been in great form, their last game was a 3-1 defeat to Barnet. Home Win
King’s Lynn v Altrincham
Are King’s Lynn getting ready to put a run together? They’ve got 4 points from their last 2 games, beating relegation rivals Weymouth 3-0 and drawing away to Grimsby and have just signed 3 players including experienced centre half Josh Coulson from Southend. Alty haven’t won in 10. Home Win
Weymouth v Chesterfield
Paul Cook returns to the Spireite dugout and the lift that gives a team that doesn’t really need lifting is impossible to ignore. It’s the news that means they can put the James Rowe affair to bed and move on. Away Win
Woking v Southend
Woking Inconsistent, Southend bring 2000 everywhere they go and are 8
unbeaten and Matthew Dennis can’t stop scoring. Away Win