League One betting preview: Derby daybreak for Spireites

 

John Sheridan described the recent FA Cup defeat at home to Torquay as the lowest point of his managerial career and his Chesterfield team hit rock bottom in League One last weekend when they followed up with a 5-2 defeat at Oldham.

However, we're backing them to come good when they welcome Sheffield United to the B2net Stadium on Saturday.

It's a bet that probably raises questions about our sanity because the Spireites have been a shambles lately and a nine-match winless run (seven defeats) is no sort of form to be taking into a game against one of the fancied sides in the division.

But it's the opposition that triggers our optimism because it might just be the type of match they need right now and we have every confidence that Chesterfield can raise their standards to this kind of occasion when everything clicks into place.

Confidence is obviously an issue but the biggest problem in recent weeks has been a recurring lack of concentration. Individual errors are costing the Derbyshire club dear but the prospect of a full house and the size of this particular scalp might just be enough for players to stay switched on for the full 90 minutes.

Our positive instincts are only heightened by the patchy away form that the visitors have shown since dropping down from the Championship last season. The Blades have already been beaten by two of the four teams promoted from the basement, and the 1-0 defeat at Wycombe still remains the Chairboys' only home win of the campaign.

Meanwhile, it's a measure of how workmanlike the Yorkshire outfit are that they became quite attached to loan signings Billy Clarke and Matty Phillips even though they only stayed at Bramall Lane for a month. The Blackpool duo have now returned to Bloomfield Road and won't be coming back.

United did respond to that mini-setback by grinding out a 1-0 win at home to Carlisle last weekend but we don't see enough in that performance to justify them being a shade of odds-against for the short 12-mile trip down the A61.

Meanwhile, we probably shouldn't overlook the fact that Chesterfield boast a few Sheffield Wednesday connections with Sheridan himself a legend on the Hillsborough terraces and Leon Clarke likely to be leading the attack with no shortage of abuse from the travelling fans ringing in his ears.

Sheridan, of course, won't be too concerned about how this game affects the Owls but he has thrown down the gauntlet to his own players.

Speaking after the defeat at Boundary Park, he said: "I'm going to question the players now, and I never normally do that. I accept that I'm not doing my job properly and I'm going to stand up and be counted. But they also need to take a long, hard look at themselves. I'm going to stand up and be counted and I expect them to do the same."

All things considered, there's enough about this game to take a leap of faith. The home win is available at 3/1 and though that's hardly surprising with the Spireites propping up the table, the odds are significantly greater than we would have anticipated at the start of the season. We would expect to look back on it with similar sentiment come the end of the campaign as well.

Recommended bet:

1pt Chesterfield to beat Sheffield United at 3/1 (Victor Chandler)

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