NATHAN CLARKE knows Town are in for a pretty uncomfortable time at Chesterfield in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tonight – and that’s before they get on the pitch!
Unless they are sent there in the FA Cup, the second-round tie will be Town’s last visit to Saltergate, which the Spireites will vacate for a new stadium at the end of the season.
Centre-back Clarke, recalled to the starting side for Saturday’s 1-0 League I defeat at Colchester United, missed out the last time Town headed to the Derbyshire venue, for a goalless League I draw in December 2006.
But he was on duty for both visits the previous season, 2005-06, when Town won 4-2 in the first round of the Carling Cup before losing 4-3 in a League I clash.
“My games there have always been eventful, and it’s seldom an easy place to go to,” said the 25-year-old.
“It’s not exactly what you’d call a luxurious venue. The dressing rooms are cramped and everything there is pretty basic, but you just have to get on with it.
“It will be a tough test, and not just because of the surroundings. They have a good manager in John Sheridan, who we came up against plenty of times when he was at Oldham, and also a decent team.
“Their home form has been good as well (three successive wins culminating in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat of Accrington Stanley) so we’ll have to be switched on.”
Town can claim only two wins in their 11 league games at Saltergate, 2-0 in their first visit in the old Division III back in 1973-74, when Terry Dolan and Alan Gowling netted, and 1-0 in the 1982-83 Division III promotion season, when Mark Lillis was on target.
But they’ve got a perfect cup record there, winning all four ties so far, 7-1 in the 1928-29 FA Cup third round, when George ‘Bomber’ Brown scored four, 1-0 in the 1981-82 FA Cup second round (Dave Cowling), 2-0 in the 1989-90 FA Cup second round (Mike Cecere (penalty) and Craig Maskell) and that 4-2 League Cup win in August 2005, when Gary Taylor-Fletcher grabbed a hat trick and Pawel Abbott got the other.
Tonight’s tie will be Town’s 49th in the competition and their fourth in a row away from home, and they will be aiming to make the third round for the first time since 2001-02, when Wrexham were beaten 1-0 at this stage and they went on to make the semi-finals.