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Paul Cook's Chesterfield 13 matches unbeaten at the summit of the National League

Languishing in the English fifth tier since 2017, Chesterfield look to be on the brink of a return to the EFL under the guidance of returning manager Paul Cook.

Chesterfield are flying high at the top of the National League and currently enjoying a 13 match unbeaten run in the league as the club seek a long overdue return to the Football League.

Paul Cook is the man tasked with steering the Spireites out of the National League, after returning to the club he guided to the League Two title back in 2014. Chesterfield are unbeaten in 15 in all competitions and have lost just once in the league this season.

Bouncing back from play-off heartbreak

The Spireites were arguably unfortunate not to gain promotion last season as they finished third in the table on 84 points. They won 25 of their 46 matches, a record that would've led to automatic promotion in both the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons.

Competing against the powerful duo of Wrexham and Notts County, who both amassed over 100 points, Chesterfield were the best of the rest, winning the most games and scoring the most goals in the league.

Reaching the play-off final, they took County to the wire and were just minutes from promotion, before an 87th minute equaliser saw the game go to extra time where they eventually lost on penalties.

Paul Cooking with Chesterfield again

Cook initially managed Chesterfield from 2015 to 2018, guiding them to the League Two title in his first full season in charge. They then enjoyed a fruitful debut campaign in the third tier, finishing sixth and eventually losing in the League One play-off final against Preston North-End.

He was poached by Portsmouth that summer, who he led to the League Two title in his first season, before later embarking on roles with Wigan & Ipswich. 

During his time away from Chesterfield, their fortunes suffered badly with back-to-back relegations that saw the Spireites plying their trade outside of the EFL for the first time since 1921. 

The club almost dropped to the sixth tier amid near financial collapse, before a fan-led takeover saved the club and began the process of reversing their fortunes.

Cook's return to the SMH Group Stadium has been an immediate success, with the club flying in both the league and cup competitions. 

They sit five points clear at the top of the National League and recently knocked Cook's former side Portsmouth out of the FA Cup to reach the second round.

Chesterfield lost top scorer Kabongo Tshimanga to Peterborough in January, but replaced him adequately in the summer, landing Northern Irish poacher Will Grigg on a free transfer, who has hit nine goals in seventeen appearances already this term.

Cook's men have provided goals from all over the pitch however, with veteran defender Tom Naylor pitching in with six goals and winger Ryan Colclough also grabbing five so far this season.

Interestingly, Grigg, Naylor and Colclough all played for Wigan during Cook's tenure at the north-west club.

Spireites set for title charge

15 games without defeat and knocking out teams from two divisions above in the FA Cup, Chesterfield currently look unstoppable and that is reflected in the National League title odds, with Cook's men as short as 1/8 to win the league.

They are already strong favourites for promotion, 1/12 at this early stage suggests promotion is well and truly on the cards. 

They recently disposed of their closest challengers Barnet 4-2 courtesy of four second half goals, the rest of the chasing pack are led by the likes of Solihull Moors and Bromley, both of whom are 10 points off Chesterfield's pace.

Cook's side have made a near faultless start to their campaign, and in a league without the challenge of Wrexham and Notts County this time around, it looks likely Cook will lead his men back to the fourth tier for the first time since 2017 and deliver a second league title to the Chesterfield trophy cabinet.

National League

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