The youth team suffered a narrow 2-1 friendly defeat against their Everton counterparts on Tuesday afternoon at the Premiership club's state of the art facilities in Halewood, Merseyside.
The early exchanges were pretty even, before the hosts took the lead. In the second half, the young Spireites were grabbed an equaliser after a superb finish from Owen Darwent. The second half was another even affair, before the Toffees broke on the counter in the dying stages to grab a winner.
Academy manager Mark Smith said: “It was a really good exercise and I think it surprised a few of our lads that it’s not that different. We were well on top in the first half, but were 1-0 down after an individual error from Laurence Maguire with a short back-pass. Up until that point we’d peppered their goal; we kept getting in, but couldn’t make the final ball count.
“They changed around a little bit in the second half when they put the first years on and we did the same. We eventually equalised through Owen Darwent. It was a corner from the left, Maguire jumped up and the ball dropped down to Darwent, whose initial shot was blocked. Then Owen showed a bit of tenacity, wrestled the ball back and then turned and chipped the keeper from the edge of the box.
“Unfortunately, we conceded late on, after another mistake, but generally we were really pleased with how we played. We usually do alright against category 1 teams because they give you a bit more time to play. We did a lot of moving and chasing the ball in the first half when they had possession. We were nice and compact and they didn’t break through us. We were quite good on the counter, without being exceptional.
“All in all it was useful and I think we surprised their lads and their staff to a certain extent. They might have been thinking 'it’s only Chesterfield so we might get five or six’, but it didn’t work out like that. It was an even game where really we should have come away with at least a draw. It was good in regard that it got us going again, cleared the pipes a little bit and now we look forward to Saturday’s game.
“There was numerous times when we got in the box and cut back, but there was nobody there to finish it off. We found that we’ve actually got kids who can probably cope better with that than the hurly burly of the Youth Alliance League. Our challenge is now to get better and deal with pressure, because when they give you a bit of time, we’ve got players who can play.”