With a UEFA A licence, a masters of research degree in sports science and as a graduate of the Johan Cruyff Academy in Amsterdam, James Rowe is probably the most qualified manager to have trod the touchline here.
Chesterfield’s 38-year-old boss, whose playing career took him to places such as Grantham and Canvey Island, far from football’s mainstream, is a man who talks in technical terms about ‘confrontation lines’ and ‘pressure points’.
He was able to point out he had beaten the side who had ‘delivered the most crosses in League Two’.
James Rowe guided non-league Chesterfield to victory against Salford City in the FA Cup
Liam Mandeville pretended to suck his team-mate’s toe to poke fun at Salford’s Paul Scholes
However, when asked what it meant to be in the third round of the FA Cup, his was the language of football as emotion rather than science. ‘It rates No 1 in my career,’ he said.
‘You saw the emotion when we scored the second goal. You put so many hours in. I want to spend time with my family and my young son. You miss so much while putting the extra hours in but they are worth it for this.’
The trouble with Salford City is that they will always be judged by the men who own the club, the men who between them have 18 FA Cup winners’ medals.
This neat, rebuilt arena that stands less than a mile from The Cliff, Manchester United’s old training ground, where the Class of 92 were schooled to greatness, has had its share of exposure. There have been three television series about the club.
Mandeville scored a screamer for the first, later celebrating by mocking Paul Scholes
However, once the harmonica that began Dirty Old Town, Ewan MacColl’s hymn to the factories and canals of Salford, ushered the teams out, the focus shifted from the Nevilles, Giggs, Scholes, Butt and Beckham to the men who had to deliver on the pitch. Mostly, they did not.
On the surface, Salford’s task appeared reasonably straightforward. They were at home against a side, a division below them, who were missing 11 players. It would, though, be wrong to describe their failure to make the third round of the FA Cup for the first time as a shock.
Chesterfield may be owned by a community trust rather than half-a-dozen of Britain’s most famous footballers but they went into the tie top of the National League, having lost only once this season. Chesterfield are a better-supported club who play in a better stadium. Nearly half the crowd were from Derbyshire.
As the presence of Kevin Davies, whose goals took Chesterfield to an epic semi-final at Old Trafford in 1997, confirmed, they also have some history in this competition.
Salford face high expectations but Chesterfield are flying in the league and have a big support
Lee Mandeville was two months old when Chesterfield went two up against Bryan Robson’s Middlesbrough and Jon Howard had a crucial goal wrongly disallowed.
The opening goal here will not linger as long as the one referee David Elleray mistakenly believed had not crossed the line in 1997. But it will matter desperately to Mandeville.
It was a beautiful strike. From 20 yards out, the ball skimmed the underside of the crossbar and crashed into the net below.
Mandeville followed it with a celebration that seemed to be a cheeky recreation of the bizarre photo that appeared on social media recently of Paul Scholes — one of the Salford owners — chewing his daughter’s toenails.
The second, five minutes from time, was just as good.
James Kellermann fired the second goal to complete a famous victory for Chesterfield
Kabongo Tshimanga appeared to be through on goal but was forced wide by the Salford keeper, Tom King. Then, just as the danger appeared to have cleared, he whipped the ball back from the byline for Jim Kellermann to thrash into the roof of the net from an improbably acute angle.
While the tie was scoreless, Salford had their chances. One free kick produced a scrambled clearance after Chesterfield’s keeper, Scott Loach, had failed to hold the ball. Moments later Loach, who played more than 150 games for Watford, produced a fabulous save to thwart Jordan Turnbull.
There were muscular forward runs from Brandon Thomas-Asante, who was blocked brilliantly by Jamie Grimes as he shaped to shoot from close range.
His substitution was greeted by boos from the Salford supporters standing in front of a tangerine-and-black flag. They were the team’s colours before they changed to the red and white of Manchester United and were known principally for their owners.