Follow It's Round and It's White on Facebook

Visiting the Proact stadium – Chesterfield F.C. vs. Coventry City

Monday 4th September 2017
With little to do over international break and having last Saturday off work, I took to the Proact Stadium for entertainment. The bountiful riches of the South Yorkshire/East Midlands divide and their local football team could only offer me an enriching day out.

Despite growing up in Nottingham and now living in Sheffield, I've never visited Chesterfield. Which sits between the two, so you'd think I'd have at least been to once or twice before. Although passing by the town and its crooked spire many, many times – in numerous different forms of transport. I've never sampled the fruits of the town. This was the day, I visited Chesterfield.

I took the train from Sheffield – took just 12 minutes to arrive at Chesterfield station, from which there's a lovely walk to the ground via the River Rother (or cycle as I did). You can always walk down the main road too, but that's pretty grim. Although, upon arrival at the ground there's a grimmer site for you. A mere step away from the ground is a Tesco Extra. Corporation on your club's doorstep. Luckily the supermarket hasn't had its way with the team and doesn't seemingly sponsor the team in any form. On the plus side, I did use the Tesco's bicycle facilities to lock up my bike during the game – so corporate enterprises aren't all bad.

Walking around the ground, you could feel a certain loom of anxiety from the supporters. The pre-match feeling wasn't vibrant at all. Glum faces decked out all the sides; even the official programme vendor was rather sad when I bought the game's edition from him. (BTW, the programme is a decent read. Above the standard). This crestfallen demeanour came from the team's lack of fortunes this season. Eliminated from two cup competitions by somewhat rivals Sheffield Wednesday and Bradford must have hurt; as well as three losses from their first four games in the league. This lack of form left them dead last in the League Two table – occupying one of the two relegation places. Eek, now you understand why there wasn't much to smile about.
The Proact Stadium opened in 2010 and you can tell that it is a newer ground and you can tell that as soon as you walk in. Everything is modernised and has an almost IKEA-theme to it. It's clean, affordable and efficient, yet not flat pack. Having parted with £15 for my student ticket – which is very reasonable – I then took to the in-arena catering. Decent pints of ale are available as well as your usual beer/cider selections. In terms of hot food, well there was quite the assortment of savoury snacks. I opted for the chicken tikka. Less said the better. Too hot, no flavour and the pie crust was almost nonexistent – should have gone for a hot dog like everyone else seemingly did. Although, the pie and a bottle Pepsi was very cheap at just £5.
Matthew Briggs, the former Fulham player, started the game for Chesterfield and made a little bit of club history by doing so. The London-born defender has been capped by Guyana and by making his debut for Chesterfield, made the Central-American state the 67th country to be represented at the Proact Stadium.
The game began with a reserved tempo, with both teams feeling the game out. Understandably cautious considering that two teams came into this match on the back of losses. After the initial quarter of an hour though, Coventry City began to show their grit and might which allowed them to win the EFL Trophy last season. Sky Blues new boy, Marc McNulty, started well and fired several shots towards goal. Jersey International, Peter Vincenti, who also joined the club this season had a headed effort towards goal but couldn't break the deadlock.

After the aforementioned hoard of Coventry attacks – the game became a lot more balanced with the Spireites potentially edging out the last 10 minutes of the game. Although, they were marred by an indecision to shoot by seemingly every player. Every attacking player for Chesterfield didn't want the responsibility of shooting, making every play rather drawn out. This ultimately ended in broken down attacks of poor shots as the balls were dragged away from goal.
The second half started where the first one ended – a balanced affair with both teams attacking. Although the pendulum of play was about to switch as Robbie Weir, the Northern Irish defender was booked for the second time and was forced to leave the pitch unceremoniously in the 60th minute. Meaning that Chesterfield would play the final third of the game with ten men. As you would expect Coventry sensed blood and went for the win. They played with a lot more attacking flair with the man advantage and looked like the team in the ascendancy.

The Sky Blues were all over them, but couldn't get the ball into the back of the net. Several substitutions couldn't change it until… Vincenti was in receipt of a ball, jumping and using his height advantage to make contact with the ball – heading it across the line. The Coventry fans roared in life as they… ah, offside flag. Not given, still 0-0. The Jerseyman came off and with him Coventry's hold on the game.

Gary Caldwell, the Chesterfield manager introduced two men who really changed the complexion of the last ten minutes of the competition. Ugwu and Chesterfield-born Italian U20 international, Diego De Girolamo. Despite being a man down, these fresh players re-adjusted the play and started to challenge Coventry. Yet, nothing would stick within regulation time.

Six minutes of added time were allocated and these were exclusively the property of Chesterfield. Ugwu had an attempt saved which forced the last-minute corner. That delivery was headed over and the final whistle was blown.

A bore-draw for the some 5,000 which made it down to the Proact. Although the point did lift the Spireites off the bottom of the table and thusly out of the relegation zone.
Altogether a decent day out in the S41 postcode. The football wasn't the idyllic quality of the Premier League – yet the League 2 competition certainly has a good narrative. Especially at the bottom where the clubs are fighting off the cold hands of relegation to the non-league. The Proact Stadium is a good ground, yet could do with filling. It has a 10,000+ capacity but was only 60% full and that's considering both home and away supporters. Ticket prices for students are good, but full price at £20+ for the league they are in might not be the best way to encourage attendance. Those who did attend were friendly and in good voice, which made for a good atmosphere in lieu of a capacity crowd. It'll be an interesting season for the club as they look to get back into the third tier, having been relegated from League One last season – yet current form doesn't suggest this will be an overnight project.
Warren Smith

Yokohama F•Marinos supporter. Seen it all in the J.League, relegation fights and being crowned champions. Play five-a-side, pretty good too. Once scored an overhead kick.

Total articles: 315

Latest League Two Articles