Town: Danny Ward (12)
Chesterfield: Gary Roberts (9); Jamie Devitt (62)
Town fans got their first look at several summer arrivals in the first 2013/14 pre-season friendly at Chesterfield’s Proact Stadium on a sunny July afternoon.
Mark Robins fielded two different elevens in the first-half, with the first half side having a very strong look to it. Although new boys Martin Paterson and Jake Carroll featured, Danny Ward was the man who impressed the most – giving veteran left back Ritchie Humphreys a very hard time down the Town right.
On a hot 28 degree afternoon at the Proact Stadium, the chances came thick and fast for both sides. Within 38 seconds Adam Hammill had set the tone – skinning right back Talbot before picking out Ward’s head in the middle, who nodded over the crossbar.
The impressive left back Carroll, the summer arrival from St. Pats Athletic, then fed Patterson in the middle and he showed he wasn’t shy when it came to shooting – as he did all half.
Chesterfield were equally as enterprising going forward and took the lead in the ninth minute through old boy Gary Roberts. Carroll was unlucky as in the build-up he made two superb blocks to deny striker Marc Richards, but when the ball fell to Town’s former Player of the Year he casually blasted into the bottom corner from 15 yards out.
Ward could have responded within a minute when he outstripped another former Town man, Liam Cooper, onto James Vaughan’s pass, but ‘keeper Tommy Lee did well to smother the shot.
Danny didn’t worry – scoring barely a minute later. This time he skipped inside Humphreys on the Town right and powered home a shot from the edge of the area, via a deflection.
Twice during the half Ward picked out near post runs from Vaughan with low right footed crosses, but on both occasions a defender was close enough to James to force the ball wide.
Throughout the half Paterson showed what a willing worker he was, playing just off Vaughan in attack, but he couldn’t hit the target with his five shots.
With the scores level during the interval Robins rang the changes, keeping the 4-2-3-1 shape but fielding a side including several senior players with a smattering of Under-21 talent.
Within that side was Sean Scannell, who in typical fashion charged at the experienced full back Talbot at every opportunity.
Up front Jimmy Spencer showed some nice touches, linking well with the lively Kallum Higginbotham – who was playing off the right side.
However, it was the Spireites who took the lead in the 62nd minute. When substitute Eoin Doyle was brought down on the edge of Town’s box, midfielder Jamie Devitt nonchalantly stepped forward and sent an inch-perfect curler into Ian Bennett’s top corner.
The 23rd player on the afternoon, fellow new boy Daniel Carr, made his Town debut with 22 minutes left and immediately went up top with Spencer playing just off him.
However, Chesterfield were on top and the 6’ 4” tall Ivorian striker Armand Gnanduillet forced Ian Bennett into work with 72 minutes gone with a stinging drive. Two minutes later he shrugged off Calum Woods before trying to round the Town custodian, but the 41 year-old showed great agility to match the striker’s stride and make the save.
Town’s best chance of the second half landed on Woods’ head minutes later from a deep Oliver Norwood corner, but the full-back glanced the ball wide.
Carr came alive in the final ten minutes, first skinning a defender from the left flank and finding Spencer on the angle, whose goal-bound shot was deflected behind for a corner.
Then the former Dulwich Hamlet man was at it again with seven minutes left, turning past the right back on the dead ball line. Unfortunately a rush of blood saw him bend an almost impossible shot high and wide when Spencer was the correct pass, but it was still an encouraging sign.
Arguably the pick of the players in the second-half was central midfielder Jordan Sinnott and he went close to equalising late on with a low left footed drive from 25 yards, which skidded just wide of Lee’s left-hand post.
Town’s first-half team (4-2-3-1):
Alex Smithies; Jake Carroll, Joel Lynch, Murray Wallace, Jack Hunt; Keith Southern (c), Adam Clayton; Adam Hammill, Martin Paterson, Danny Ward; James Vaughan
Town’s second-half team (4-2-3-1):
Ian Bennett; Paul Dixon, Liam Ridehalgh, Tom Smith, Calum Woods; Oliver Norwood, Jordan Sinnott; Sean Scannell, Matt Crooks (Daniel Carr 68), Kallum Higginbotham; Jimmy Spencer