Former Portsmouth, Wigan and Ipswich boss Paul Cook admits 'pain' following devastating Chesterfield promotion blow

Paul Cook’s bid to mastermind Chesterfield’s return to the Football League has ended in disappointment.

The former Pompey boss was appointed at the Spireites in February to oversee their National League promotion bid.

However, they won just six of his 18 league games in charge to finish seventh, yet, crucially, still managed to qualify for the play-offs.

An impressive 2-1 triumph at Halifax last week then booked them a semi-final trip to Solihull Moors.

However, Chesterfield this afternoon lost 3-1 to condemn them to National League football for another season.

That leaves Solihull facing Grimsby in the play-off final at West Ham’s London Stadium on June 5.

Cook’s future is not clear, although he has been linked with the job at Barnsley following their relegation from the Championship.

The former Wolves midfielder enjoyed success at Pompey, when he memorably led them to the League Two title in 2016-17, before departing for Wigan.

Former Pompey boss Paul Cook's Chesterfield have been condemned to the National League for another year following defeat to Solihull Moors. Picture: Nigel French/PA Wire

He subsequently steered the Latics to the League One title in 2017-18 and stabilised them in the Championship, before financial issues struck.

In March 2021, he was appointed Ipswich boss, however was dismissed in December with the Tractor Boys sitting 11th in League One.

Chesterfield then turned to their former manager in a bid to prevent a fifth season in the National League, with ex-Pompey midfielder Gary Roberts joining him as assistant.

In this afternoon’s semi-final against Solihull, Joe Quigley put the Spireites in front early on, but Andrew Dallas and Alex Gudger handed the hosts a half-time lead.

A second-half header from Callum Howe made it 3-1 to secure a play-off final place for Neal Ardley’s men.

Afterwards, Cook told the Derbyshire Times: ‘It is a difficult one to take. It was a game that promised so much for us.

‘It probably panned out like we thought it would. Solihull are very bright in possession, but we had big moments in the game, really big ones, but unfortunately we could not take them.

‘You have got to feel pain, sport can be cruel, it can be so hurtful the pain. The play-off defeat is raw now, it is raw for our supporters, we have got another year in the National League now. We have got to embrace it and come back next year stronger.

‘The reality is we are out and we have to feel that pain.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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