Chesterfield clinched their first ever pre-season friendly victory at the B2net Stadium on Saturday afternoon, after cruising to a comfortable 3-1 victory against Championship side Derby County.
The Spireites were in command from the first whistle to the last and goals in each half from Marc Richards, his first at the B2net, and a late double salvo from substitute Jordan Bowery ensured John Sheridan's side finished their pre-season campaign in emphatic style. Substitute Steven Davies notched a consolation for the hosts in the dying seconds, but Sheridan can afford to pleased with his side's preparations ahead of the visit of Tranmere Rovers in Tuesday's Capital One Cup clash.
The gaffer made just two changes for the visit of the Rams, with left-back Nathan Smith making his first appearance of pre-season so far. Skipper Sam Hird and Neal Trotman retained their place at the centre of defence, while Terrell Forbes was moved to right-back. Drew Talbot, after impressing last time out in an advanced role against Huddersfield, was preferred on the right of midfield and Mark Allott replaced Mark Randall alongside Sam Togwell and Danny Whitaker. Craig Westcarr was given the nod in attack alongside Richards, meaning youngster Bowery dropped to the bench.
Kick-off at the B2net was delayed with hundreds of fans still queueing outside to get their hands on a ticket, but when the game did finally resume it was the visitors who started quickly with Finnish striker Roope Riski testing Spireites stopper Tommy Lee with a fierce drive inside four minutes. Chesterfield, adorned in their brand new home strip, looked sharper than on Tuesday evening though and had their first opportunity when Allott hit a bouncing ball narrowly wide before Westcarr was unfortunate not to find Talbot creeping in at the far post.
Rams' boss Nigel Clough would have been left tearing his hair out midway through the first period, when County centre-half Jeff Hendrick was withdrawn on a stretcher for Steven Davies following a nasty arial collision with Talbot and Josh Lelan also replaced Michael Hoganson before the Championship side should have taken the lead. Ben Davies' deep free-kick eventually found its way towards Riski and his teasing ball found Davies at the back post, but the onrushing Derby wide-man failed to connect sufficiently.
Sheridan's men responded, however, and they took the lead in the 36th minute through the best move of the match. It was former Port Vale man Richards who both started and finished it, spraying the ball out for Whitaker who drove into the box before returning the favour for the 30-year-old marksman to slot home his first goal at the B2net after Derby keeper Adam Legzdins had parried his initial effort.
The Spireites were unfortunate not to catch the visitors cold on the break again soon after, when Talbot galloped over the halfway line but Richards' ball to Westcarr found the former Notts County striker harshly adjudged offside with Jamie Ward's appeal lacking in conviction. The League Two newcomers deservedly led at the break, but they would've been frustrated not to have been further in front when Talbot, who had exchanged passes beautifully with Forbes, curled his left-footed effort onto the face of the bar in first-half stoppage time before Richards blazed over the rebound on his weaker foot.
If there was any doubt as to whether the Spireites would be ready for the visit of the Super Whites in Tuesday's curtain-raiser, then that would've been emphatically quashed as the first-half performance was arguably the best Chesterfield had played this pre-season and Richards came close again three minutes after the restart but he could only divert the ball the wrong side of the upright after superb work on the left-hand side by the sprightly Westcarr.
Sheridan then replaced his front pairing, introducing Bowery and fans' favourite Jack Lester with 54 minutes on the clock, before Scott Boden and Randall replaced Smith and Allott respectively. But the changes failed to disrupt Chestefield's fluid play and Whitaker brought a sprawling save from Legzdins just after the hour mark when he was picked out by the classy Randall.
Tendayi Darikwa and Craig Clay were then introduced for Trotman and the industrious Togwell as Forbes moved inside to partner captain Hird and the visitors had 25-year-old keeper Legzdins to thank once more when he denied Bowery who had raced clear. But he could do nothing to prevent Bowery from deservedly etching his name on to the scoresheet 16 minutes from time, when he glanced Darikwa's inch-perfect cross into the far corner. The Spireites were now in cruise control and it was substitute Clay who was next to threaten, but his effort thumped the stanchion before Bowery again tested Legzdins' reflexes.
Lester was denied late on following an almighty scramble, but Sheridan's men weren't finished there and substitute Bowery latched onto Randall's delightful quick free-kick to bury a powerful volley into the net to complete a magnificent 10-minute double to conclude the Spireites' pre-season campaign in fitting fashion.
Sheridan would have been disappointed that his side couldn't hold onto the clean sheet their performance deserved though, when substitute Davies converted from close range in the dying seconds following Jamie Ward's low cross with the visitors' first foray into the hosts' penalty box.
Attendance: 3,070 (827 away)