Read via the Chesterfield Post
Chesterfield got their pre season schedule underway with a comfortable 3-0 over Matlock Town at Causeway Lane under new boss Dean Saunders.
Goals from Jay O’Shea, new signing Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Armand Gnanduillet handed the Spireites a routine victory as Chesterfield fans caught a first glimpse of the new regime in action.
Saunders fielded a strong starting line-up with new signing Ebanks-Blake partnering Sam Clucas up front in a 4-4-2 formation.
Ollie Banks played alongside Sam Morsy in the heart of midfield, as Saunders looks to find a partner for Morsy to replace Jimmy Ryan after his departure to Fleetwood Town.
A trialist started in goal in the absence of Tommy Lee, who was reported to be not quite right with slight groin trouble before the game.
Chesterfield started brightly and looked an energetic outfit just over a week into their pre season after working hard with new fitness coach Mal Purchase, who Saunders recruited as strength and conditioning to replace Shane Nicholson.
Purchase has brought with him to the Proact the latest in training technology and Chesterfield played the game wearing GPS trackers to allow the coaching staff to monitor each player’s progress.
After four minutes O’Shea saw a trademark curling effort from the edge of the box curl just over the apex of ‘keeper Jonny Maxstead’s goal before Clucas found himself on the end of an Ebanks-Blake flick on, but his attempted chip lacked the power to break the deadlock.
After his release from the Proact at the end of his contract defender Jack Broadhead lined up for the Gladiators and it was his sloppy clearance on 12 minutes that saw Ebanks-Blake through on goal before being upended for referee Paul Thompson to award the Spireites a penalty.
O’Shea stepped up and confidently dispatched the spot kick down to the ‘keeper’s right to give Saunders’ side the lead.
Chesterfield saw several opportunites come from crosses from the byline, with full backs Tendayi Darikwa and Dan Jones both operating effectively on each flank, delivering threating crosses having overlapped O’Shea and Dan Gardner respectively.
On 18 minutes Gardner found Ebanks-Blake in the box with an inch perfect cross to allow the 29-year-old to glance a header into the far corner to double the lead.
Clucas then produced a similar cross from the left which was diverted back into the box by Banks for Ebanks-Blake to attempt an audacious overhead effort, only for his attempt to sail over the bar.
The striker then departed on 38 minutes having impressed the 1,119 in attendance, to be replaced by trialist Jake Orrell – a 17-year-old forward who turned out for Gateshead FC in the last campaign.
A completely different Chesterfield 11 came out for the second half with Ritchie Humphries providing experience alongside youngsters Jake Beesley and Laurence Maguire.
Gboly Ariyibi, who has been tipped by Chairman Dave Allen as one to watch this season, caught the eye with some impressive breaks down the left flank culminating in several efforts on target.
Armand Gnanduillet seemed a revitalised figure, causing the Matlock defence problems through holding up the ball and making bursting runs off it.
Behind the Ivorian striker, Michael Onovwigun controlled the midfield and distributed well, demonstrating why Chief Scout Paul Mitchell holds the former Brentford trainee in such a high regard.
Spireites fans caught a first sight of new signing Rai Simons on his return from World Cup Qualifying action with Bermuda when he came on with ten minutes to go alongside Ryan Edwards after his release from Reading – a midfielder who Sheffield United manager Nigel Adkins has spoken highly of after coaching the Australian at the Madjeski Stadium.
Matlock were well beaten and Gnanduillet sealed the win on 83 minutes with a rocket of a strike after being fed through by Edwards.
After the match, Chesterfield assistant Brian Carey gave his assessment of the Spireites’ first pre season run out. The 47-year-old said: ‘It was great. Nobody’s picked up any injuries and it was a good workout. We managed to get everybody out on to the pitch and it was nice to see everybody get a game.
‘We’re delighted with everyone so far, pre season has gone really well. We’ve been in just over a week now and we’ve been really pleased with what we’ve seen.
‘There are a few exciting players who were on the fringes of last year’s squad, our role here is to make sure everybody here fulfils their potential. For the younger players not many people have heard of, it’s our job to get them on the pitch. They’re here to become professional footballers and we’re here to help them.’
Chesterfield travel to the Silverlands to face Buxton on Friday night before travelling to Portugal on Sunday for a week’s training camp before Hull and Burnley visit to the Proact as Chesterfield step up their preparations for the season opener against Barnsley on August 8th.