Chesterfield signed in-form Gloucester City striker Akwasi Asante in November 2020 and since his arrival, the Dutchman has demonstrated exactly why he is so highly rated.
Asante arrived at the Technique Stadium a day after James Rowe – who was his manager at Gloucester – was announced as the Spireites’ newest manager.
With Europa League and Football League experience – having made his first-team debut for Birmingham in the Europa League play-off round second leg against Portuguese outfit C.D. Nacional in August 2011, with his Football League debut coming five months later while on loan at Northampton Town – the forward arrived with a good pedigree.
Having scored eight goals in 10 appearances for The Tigers, it was somewhat unsurprising that the former Chester FC man made the step up to the National League after a blistering start to the 2020/2021 National League North campaign attracted a number of suiters.
Luckily, for Chesterfield, they were the ones that managed to convince him to sign on the dotted line – ensuring that the striker could once again link up with his former manager.
The frontman made his debut for the Spireites just two days after signing, scoring his side’s first goal as they came back from 1–0 down to beat struggling Weymouth 2–1 on November 28.
Things got even better for the Asante as he quickly grabbed his first hat-trick for the Derbyshire outfit as Rowe’s men demolished Barnet 6-0 at the Technique Stadium on December 12.
With Town beginning to climb the table after a number of impressive results, the Dutchman continued his fine goal-scoring form when he bagged an impressive brace – including a much-needed 89th minute winner – against play-off rivals Wrexham on January 23.
After his winner against the Welsh side, the goals continued to flow for the forward with four goals in seven games, three of which came in Spireites victories.
As a result of scoring nine goals in 15 appearances for Chesterfield since joining, Asante signed a new contract on March 5 that would see him remain at the Technique Stadium until 2024. The striker rewarded the club’s decision the following day by grabbing his 10th goal since joining in a routine 3–0 victory over Yeovil Town.
Despite not scoring since he struck in the win over The Glovers, Asante has continued to contribute to his team’s success.
With an ability to stretch the field and run defenders into the ground, the former Birmingham youngster has also demonstrated his magnificent durability, having completed the full 90 minutes in 12 of his 19 appearances.
While he may have only joined in November, the striker has moved up to joint 10th in the National League top scorers chart, above fellow Spireites Tom Denton (14th) – who is out injured for the remainder of the season – and recent acquisition Adi Yussuf (22nd) – who scored six of his seven National League goals while on loan at Wrexham.
Asante’s goal return whilst at Chesterfield is impressive, but what is arguably more impressive is the fact that his goals are coming in important games.
Since James Rowe was appointed Chesterfield manager on November 26, 2020, the Spireites have been in scintillating form.
Having taken charge of 21 games – winning 14, drawing three and losing just four times – Rowe managed to steady a sinking ship that saw Town lose eight of their first 10 fixtures.
Not only has the new gaffer had a positive impact on how much Chesterfield have improved going forward, but he’s also worked hard on improving a defence that, prior to his arrival, had conceded 21 goals in 10 games.
With Chesterfield edging their way into the play-offs for the first time all season with a 1-0 victory over Weymouth last Saturday, understandable excitement is starting to build amongst Spireites fans.
Yet, the tough games keep on coming.
Difficult away trips to Eastleigh and Kings Lynn Town make up Town’s next two fixtures, followed by a season-defining three week period from April 13 – May 3.
Rowe’s men have three home games in a row against Boreham Wood, Bromley and Halifax Town in a matter of seven days, before facing away trips to Wrexham, Bromley once again and Hartlepool United. Following this, the Derbyshire outfit return to the Technique Stadium for a mouth-watering tie against Torquay United.
While there might 21 points on offer for the Spireites, it is not going to be an easy task as each of the teams they face currently occupy a position in the top 12 – three of whom boast positions in the top five.
Earlier this season – before Rowe arrived – you could’ve asked any Chesterfield fan where they thought their team was going to finish and none of them would’ve said play-offs.
The mention of promotion back to the Football League would have been dismissed – never mind the talk of it actually being a possibility.
So now, with a CHANCE of getting back to the level that the Spireites deserve to be at, players like Akwasi Asante need to step up and be counted – even more so than they have already.
Chesterfield boast a rich history when it comes to memorable forwards – Jack Lester and Ernie Moss being the most notable, but in more recent times, Eoin Doyle certainly put on a show.
Could the Dutchman be the next great Spireites striker? He certainly can, there is no doubt about it.
What it might come down to is his belief in Rowe’s project of getting this football club back up the leagues, not to mention the difficult task of turning down contract offers from higher division clubs when they eventually come his way.
It would be safe to say that the past few years have been difficult for Chesterfield Football Club, with too many controversial decisions, scandals and misdoings to go into.
However, since the new owners took over the club and James Rowe was appointed, things really have started to look up.
Akwasi Asanate has all of the qualities to be the go-to spearhead of this new-look Chesterfield side for many years to come, he’s even demonstrated his ability to do so already.
Whether or not the Spireites achieve promotion this season, the frontman is going to be pivotal in their quest to get out of the National League.
If he can stay fully fit, he may just do it this season. But if not, he certainly will next campaign.
featured image credit Ghana soccer net