Sheridan is pointing Chesterfield in the right direction
By Laurie Fitzgerald
Chesterfield go into the League Two run-in knowing they are in a great position to complete what would be a season that couldn’t have gone much better.
The Spireites find themselves top of the table, and now nine points clear of those outside the automatic promotion following their 2-0 win at Lincoln on Saturday.
With 15 games of the season left, John Sheridan’s side now have the chance to complete what would be a perfect first season in their brand new stadium.
Last summer saw the club leave their 139 year old home of Saltergate to move into a 10,000+ seater ground, named the B2Net stadium.
A new home with the opportunity of more fans coming to support the team created a platform for Sheridan to build on the efforts of the previous campaign, where the squad just missed out on the play-offs.
Sheridan strengthened well, with striker Craig Davies joining from Brighton, Dwayne Mattis from Walsall, Simon Ford from Kilmarnock, Dean Morgan from MK Dons and Danny Whitaker from Oldham.
There were also the arrivals of loanees Scott Griffiths, Jack Hunt, Ian Morris and Dean Smalley to complete a squad ready to make the necessary steps up the League Two ladder.
While the squad was ready for what lied ahead, one of the biggest tasks was for the fans to get used to life away from Saltergate.
With any new stadium, one of the most difficult objectives is for the supporters to get used to their new surroundings and generate the same level of backing that the side was used.
But the fans have more than risen to the challenge; the average attendance has risen by almost 2,500 - from 3,967 to 6,355.
While full credit goes to the fans, Chairman Barrie Hubbard and majority shareholder Dave Allen deserve praise for their efforts to get the stadium financed and built, with the £13 million project constructed in the space of just 12 months.
Davies' 17 goals have been crucial for the Spireites
With the new stadium and growing support, the team have thrived in its new location. Chesterfield have won 10 and lost just two of their 15 home games so far, scoring more goals at home than any other side in the division.
In fact, their 59 goals so far exceed all their rivals, with just four losses in their 31 matches. Davies has proved to be an excellent signing, with 17 goals to his name.
The 25 year-old has been supported by fans favourite Jack Lester, forming one of the most potent partnerships in the division.
Whitaker has become crucial parts of the side, while Mark Allott has helped pull the strings in midfield. Derek Niven has returned following a stop-start campaign due to ankle and groin injuries as he aims to help the Spireites to promotion.
In defence, Griffiths, Ford and Mattis have added stability to a backline that conceded 62 goals last season.
Hunt also played his part in providing excellent protection in front of goalkeeper Tommy Lee, and while he has returned to parent club Huddersfield, Sheridan has drafted in Javan Vidal and Kieran Djilali to make up for his departure.
For 46 year-old Sheridan, he has resurrected his managerial career in excellent fashion following his acrimonious departure from Oldham Athletic.
He has moulded his own group of players and turned them into an extremely difficult side to beat, putting them within touching distance of League One.
With a new stadium, rising attendance and an improving squad, automatic promotion would be a fitting way to complete a fantastic season for the club.
So what do you think? Can Chesterfield finish the job and clinch promotion? How good a job has John Sheridan done? What do you make of the B2Net stadium? Let us know your thoughts