Sky was blue, clouds were white and The Sun shone approvingly on newly-promoted Chesterfield at The Kassam Stadium this afternoon, as they embarked on a four-game "Farewell Tour" around League Two by visiting Oxford United.
Ian Breckin and Derek Niven returned to the starting line-up, displacing Dean Holden and Jack Lester. Dean Morgan went up front to partner Craig Davies, while Niven slotted into a midfield four that had Smalley and Whitaker on its wings.
The game started in a measured fashion, despite the constant singing from the 1500 or so Spireites present. Oxford won the game's first corner on 7 after Mattis knocked out a cross. Smalley cleared McLaren's flag kick under pressure from Sangare, who went down looking for a penalty, and when the ball was returned Morgan shepherded it out for a goal kick.
Chesterfield broke and Smalley flicked an unchallenged header into the path of Davies, who pulled a shot narrowly wide. The U's, however, enjoyed the greater share of possession in the opening quarter, although Chesterfield's defence coped well with the threat.
Allott found Morgan in space on 21 and he worked the ball on to Davies, in the sort of position where he likes to shoot, but the 24-goal forward scuffed this one. Chesterfield were growing in influence and Allott saw a volley hit the goalkeeper's chest on 27. Oxford raced away from this but Talbot tracked back in committed style to rob Potter and break up the danger.
A Griffiths cross was blocked for Chesterfield's first corner, on the half hour. Whitaker took it quickly and his cross was retained by Allott, but the offside flag went up against Griffiths to bring the move to a halt. A good Morgan ball reached Davies as Clarke, the Oxford keeper, came careering out, but Davies was unable to craft a lob.
McLaren took a corner on 33 but Sangare headed tamely over. Morgan fouled Batt on 34 and was penalised and spoken to, but there was some confusion as to whether Referee Salisbury ignored Oxford appeals for a yellow card, or not. Breckin, making the challenge of a man who hadn't played for a bit, perhaps, fouled Constable to give the home side a free kick in a dangerous position. Payne's free kick went up and over the wall, and over the woodwork, too.
Sangare went down injured on 41 and Davies was called over to the referee for a chat, although it wasn't certain that the two events were related. Sangare was replaced by Hanson with two minutes of the half remaining. Morgan tried to be a tad too clever with the ball on 44 and Potter forced a corner. McLaren's kick found Hall, whose good connection flew over and into the car park.
Halftime: Oxford United 0 Chesterfield 0. Attendance: 8,195 (1,368 from Chesterfield.)
Chesterfield looked to get in forst through Talbot but Asa Hall had the best early chance, firing constable's cross narrowly wide from around 12 yards out. Potter was fouled on 49 and Breckin went into the referee's notebook.
Batt conceded a corner when robbing Morgan on 51 and Whitaker floated it in; Smalley and an Oxford man went down in need of attention, and play was halted. Ben Purkiss came on to replace the unfortunate Hanson, whose game involvement amounted to no more than a total of ten minutes either side of halftime.
McLaren stood his ground and Davies clattered into him on 55, earning Oxford's first booking of the game. Whitaker found Davies with the free kick but his shot skidded wide.
A left-footed drive from Potter after a run at Breckin went wide, but the Oxford man was beginning to trouble the Spireites rearguard. Dean Morgan was replaced by Jordan Bowery on 63. Potter saw a shot blocked by Mattis, who had given the ball away to set the chance up, on 70, and the same man had a free header from the corner, but his effort flew over.
Payne found Constable's feet on 76 but the forward was wasteful, firing high and allowing Lee to watch the ball sail over. At the other end a Talbot cross was blocked for a corner on 78. Whitaker fired in and it came to Davies, who had to hit it first time under pressure from Wright, and put the ball high and wide.
Scott Boden replaced Davies on 81. Griffiths crossed with pace into the six-yard box on 83 but Smalley was just unable to convert. Craddock replaced McLaren in the Oxford midfield after 85. As time began to run out Constable tested Lee, but the popular keeper managed to get down somehow to save the effort. Chesterfield won a corner through the efforts of Talbot and Whitaker, who took the kick as the game entered added time, but Clarke saved after the ball came off Constable. Chesterfield won another, and a third, as Lester came on for Niven. Oxford tried to break with the cleared ball through Potter but the pace of the counter fell away and Hall's poor shot tricked wide. Bowery saw a late shot saved; A long Boden throw came towards Lester but Oxford cleared. Griffiths tried to work the ball into the box and a corner was won and quickly taken; it eventually came to Allott, whose shot flew over to end the game.