Chesterfield secured a comfortable 4-1 win over non-league Matlock Town in the second fixture of their pre season preparations.
Goals from Armand Gnanduillet, Sam Morsy and substitutes Eoin Doyle and Dan Gardner handed the Spireites victory as manager Paul Cook gave valuable minutes to the majority of his squad.
Matt Andrews provided Mark Atkins’ side a late consolation goal with an unstoppable strike from distance late in the second half.
Cook fielded a strong starting 11 with what may be suspected as being the strongest back four at his disposal with Tendayi Darikwa and Daniel Jones on either flank of Ian Evatt and Liam Cooper.
Jimmy Ryan and Morsy occupied the holding midfield roles behind Jay O’Shea, Gary Roberts and Romuald Boco, who has been training with Chesterfield since his release from Plymouth Argyle and played under Cook during his time at Sligo Rovers.
Gnanduillet led the line for Chesterfield and gave his side the lead on 13 minutes with a header at the back post to convert Ryan’s cross from the right after Boco saw a low shot parried well by Gladiators ‘keeper Ross Atkins.
Former Derby County prospect Atkins was tested throughout the first half and impressed the 1,020 in attendance with saves to deny Gnanduillet, Roberts and O’Shea in half dominated by the visitors.
Matlock, in their second pre season friendly after narrowly losing 1-0 to Derby last week, had their only chance on goal come just before half time in a counter attack which saw Adam Yates and Danny Holland link well to set up new signing Leon Osborne, but the former Bradford City striker saw his effort fly over the crossbar.
Neither side made a change at half time and Chesterfield started the second half brightly with Gnanduillet bursting down the left flank to find Roberts in the six yard box, but last season’s League Two player of the year could not convert past two defenders on the line.
A number of substitutions saw Ritchie Humphreys, Doyle and Sam Hird replace Gnanduillet, Jones and Boco, wither the latter bright in possession operating interchangeably with O’Shea on the right wing and in the number ten role.
Morsy doubled the lead with a well taken strike from 20 yards which left Atkins rooted to the spot on 60 minutes before being replaced by Dan Gardner.
Five minutes later Doyle did well to evade numerous challenges in the box and convert on the second time of asking past Atkins into the roof of the net.
Youth team goalkeeper Myles Wright replaced the trialist stopper who started the match on 66 minutes as Ryan was substituted for midfielder Nicky Featherstone, on trial after his release from Walsall.
Alex Hewitt, former Chesterfield youth team player and son of youth team physio Jamie, came on for the Gladiators before Andrews picked up the ball in 30 yards out and found the top corner, leaving the keeper with no chance on 75 minutes.
Gardner grabbed the winner in the closing moments with a well taken goal from the edge of the box after making room for a shot with a clever dummy to secure Chesterfield a first piece of silverware in the form of the Autoworld Cup.
Reflecting on his side’s performance and pre season preparations, Paul Cook said: ‘The lads looked a little bit brighter tonight [than against Buxton] but these games are what they are, they’re just preparations for the season.
‘We look like we’ve come through without any injuries so that’s the most pleasing thing from what are just extended training sessions.
‘Liam Cooper was feeling something there, we think it was his thigh a little bit but all in all it’s just pleasing to get through the game.
Drew Talbot featured for the first time in pre season after recovering from a groin injury, and Cook was confident he will have a fully fit squad available by the start of the season.
The 47-year-old said: ‘Tommy Lee (abductor injury) comes back next week so we’ll get stronger and stronger. We’re always looking to add one or two as everyone knows, if we just keep working our way at that then we’ll be ok.
Chesterfield travel to Grrenhous Meadow on Saturday to face Shrewsbury Town on Saturday as their pre season preparations continue.
Cook added: ‘We look forward to the Shrewsbury game which will be a tough test for us on Saturday; it’s a step up against a team who have recruited really well so it will be a tough game but we go there to get fitter and stronger, at this stage of the season results are totally irrelevant.
‘We must work hard, we have have good fitness levels and we must do the things that make us a better and stronger team.’
Matlock manager Mark Atkins was disappointed with his side’s performance on the back of a close 1-0 defeat against Derby County.
He said: ‘I was a bit disappointed really, I thought we were a bit off it today and the lads looked tired, the fitness levels weren’t up to scratch like they were last week. Maybe the couple of training sessions we’ve had in between the two games has taken it out of them a little bit.
‘It’s a bit disappointing but we played against a good side and it was a good spectacle for everybody so that was the main thing.’
Harcourt (Hewitt 56′), Haggerty, Radford, Roe;
Gregory, Yates, Foster, Stokes;
Holland, Osbourne (White 59′).
Trialist (Wright 66′);
Darikwa (Talbot 66′), Evatt (Raglan 75′), Cooper (Trialist 66′), Jones (Humphreys 57′);
Ryan (Featherstone 70′), Morsy (Gardner 64′);
O’Shea (Michael ’75), Boco (Hird 57′), Roberts (Trialist 75′);
Gnanduillet (Doyle 57′).
Matlock: Andrews (75′)
Chesterfield: Gnanduillet (14′), Morsy (60′), Doyle (65′), Gardner (89′)
Referee: Mr. Paul Thompson