The expert lowdown on Hartlepool United's next National League opponents Chesterfield live on BT Sport
Hartlepool United host Chesterfield on Saturday looking to continue their promotion push in front of the BT Sport cameras (5:20pm kick-off).
Pools go into the game at Victoria Park 15 games unbeaten and having won 11 and drawn one of their last 12 games on home turf.
It’s been two weeks since Dave Challinor’s side beat Wealdstone 7-2 in their most recent competitive game and they’ve since dropped to third in the National League table behind Torquay United and Sutton.
They face a Spireites side who have mounted a serious play-off charge under James Rowe and currently sit sixth in the table going into the final month of the campaign.
Chesterfield have won one of their last five league games but are unbeaten in their last six away from home, winning 2-1 at Bromley last time out.
To get some expert insight into Hartlepool’s opposition this weekend, we spoke to Chesterfield journalist Liam Norcliffe from our sister title Derbyshire Times to get the lowdown on the Spireites’ season so far.
We’ll have the latest Chesterfield team news, score predictions and analysis from Liam going into Saturday’s match at Victoria Park.
Here’s what he had do say…
A lot has changed since the two teams last faced each other, hasn’t it?
Absolutely! Since that early season encounter at the Technique Stadium in October Chesterfield have changed managers, with John Pemberton leaving by mutual consent and James Rowe, who was flying at the top of the National League North with Gloucester City, taking his place.
His arrival has brought instant success with the Blues being transformed from relegation candidates to promotion contenders. As many as 18 new signings have arrived, but contrary to what fans at other clubs might think, Chesterfield have not actually spent that much money.
The players they have signed are on much lower wages than they were paying previously. According to Rowe, they have reduced the playing budget by 20 per cent going into next season.
What is Chesterfield’s form like going into this one?
The Spireites have only won one of their last five, which came away at Bromley in midweek.
However, they are unbeaten in their last six on the road, including five wins.
Over the last 10 games they are still fourth in the form table with six wins and two draws. They have also had some very tough games recently with a double-header against Bromley as well as Boreham Wood, Halifax and Wrexham so it has been a gruelling schedule.
What is your gut feeling on where they will finish?
At the start of the month I was very confident they would finish comfortably in the top seven.
But a winless run of four matches and a season-ending injury to top scorer Akwasi Asante has made things a little more nervy than I anticipated in the last couple of weeks.
The win against play-off rivals Bromley on Tuesday night has settled the fanbase down and eased fears of an end-of-season collapse.
That was an important victory because they would have fallen five points behind Bromley had they lost.
They face Torquay on Monday and then on paper they have some ‘easier’ fixtures. It could come down to the last game away at Halifax! I think they will get over the line.
Did they sign anybody before last week’s deadline?
Yes, they brought in experienced striker Danny Rowe from Bradford City. The 32-year-old was prolific in non-league AFC Fylde and will of course be well-known to Pools boss Dave Challinor.
He is awaiting his first goal for Town after two starts but what has been noticeable is that he has been playing in a deeper role and has been the creator rather than the finisher so far.
They also signed forward Kairo Mitchell, 23, from King’s Lynn Town and central midfield Manny Oyeleke, 28, from Port Vale.
What is Chesterfield’s style of play?
Rowe likes to play 3-4-1-2 or 3-4-2-1. They like to play out from the back, dominate possession, create overloads out wide and pepper the opposition goal from all angles.
It is normally high-pressing, high energy football and they have a real identity now.
But, despite their attacking-minded approach, they are very solid at the back and have kept 15 clean sheets in Rowe’s 26 league games in charge.
How is former Pools defender Fraser Kerr getting on?
He has been outstanding. He has played on the right of a back three and has hardly put a foot wrong. He fits into Chesterfield's style of playing out from the back as well as being a good, solid defender who doesn't take any risks. Spireites fans would like to see him signed up for next season.
Any team news for Chesterfield?
Key man Curtis Weston was rested in midweek because he is nursing a sore Achilles. He was not risked on Bromley’s 3G surface but should come back in for this one. Experienced centre-back Gavin Gunning went off with 20 minutes to go with a tight hamstring so he will need to be assessed.
What’s your predicted line-up and formation?
3-4-1-2: G.Smith; Kerr, Gunning, Maguire; Carline, Weston, Oyeleke, Taylor; Clarke; Rowe, Mitchell.
Hartlepool United v Chesterfield score prediction?
With Hartlepool’s impressive home record and Chesterfield’s away form it has the potential to be a cracker in front of the BT Sport cameras. I will go for an entertaining 1-1.
Chesterfield have not scored in the first-half of any of their last seven matches.