Football: Duncan's makeshift side reflect greater priorities

Guy Hodgson sees a pale imitation of the Second Division FA Cup semi-finalists
Click to follow
The Independent Online
There were blue and white ribbons streaming from car aerials and "good luck" messages in pub windows, but not for this match. Chesterfield's field of dreams was not Saltergate last night but Wembley, the Second Division match against Watford a diversion not a priority.

Even the sober reality that this result almost certainly put paid to Chesterfield's play-off hopes could not suppress the giddiness of supporters heading for a first FA Cup semi-final. When your town hitherto has been famous only for the cowboy building of its church spire, who could blame them?

Wembley, Middlesbrough, Sunday, Old Trafford. Barely a sentence was uttered without one of those words included. As John Duncan, the Chesterfield manager, put it in his programme notes: "I've no more to say except...Wembley here we come."

Last night's match would probably have been lost in the euphoria anyway, which was just as well because it was instantly forgettable. Watford were the better team but did not have the guile to make their possession pay. Not surprisingly, Chesterfield appeared to have their minds on other things.

A clue to where they were came when the side was annnounced with seven changes from that published in the programme. They were Chesterfield in name but barely recognisable as the team likely to play in the semi-finals.

Which is how many of their supporters would describe them in the League since their Cup run broke into a gallop with a win at Bolton. Twelve Second Division games have been played since and only 11 points accrued. Going up has been sacrificed on Wembley's altar.

There were only half-chances last night to sustain hopes of a change, a shot from Iain Dunn that went by a post, a flick-on from Tony Lormor that appeared to be heading for Gary Lund's head until Kevin Miller stuck out a long arm to flick the ball away.

Watford, unencumbered with thoughts of twin towers, should have won yet created little beyond a Craig Ramage header that flew over after 17 minutes and a shot from Wayne Andrews that grazed the post near the end.

Middlesbrough, it can be assured, will be less generous.

Chesterfield (4-4-2): Leaning; Hewitt, Williams, Holland, Jules; Perkins (Davies, 79), Ebdon, Curtis, Dunn; Lund, Lormor. Substitutes not used: Hanson, Beaumont.

Watford (4-4-2): Miller; Gibbs, Page, Millen, Armstrong; Slater, Palmer, Johnson, Mooney; Ramage, Phillips (Andrews, 69). Substitutes not used: Penrice, Bazeley.

Referee: A Bates (Stoke-on-Trent).