Reserve team manager, Ritchie Humphreys, paid tribute to his young team, despite suffering a 2-3 home defeat to Mansfield Town in the Central League.
Late goals from second half substitutes Charlie Wakefield and 15-year old Luke Rawson, left the Spireites just shy of a draw, after Mansfield had gone ahead through a brace from Pat Hoban, and a further finish from Alfie Potter.
Captain for the day, Jake Beesley, was the sole professional in a team full of first and second year scholars, and Humphreys hailed their display.
“I am immensely proud of the team, especially with the performance in the second half,” the player-coached asserted. “We fielded such a young side, and even had an under 16’s player on the substitutes bench, and they were playing against a very experienced Mansfield side.
“They were a physically strong side and I am so proud of the players. They gave everything and really matched them, especially in the second half.”
Following a slow start to the game, superbly taken finishes from Wakefield and Rawson proved that the youngsters could more than match the Stags, both technically and physically.
Humphreys told Player HD: “We can always improve tactically and that is what we try and work with, but I am so proud with the way in which they came back into the game, the substitutes were excellent when they came on.
“Charlie - who I know is a good footballer - played a great ball through, received it back and finished it off really well. He then played another great ball through to set up the second goal for Luke to score; maybe if we’d had another five or ten minutes, the comeback would have been complete.”
While the Spireites may have lost the fixture, Humphreys insisted that with such a youthful side on the pitch, the match was about more than just the result.
He said: “Yes it is a competitive game and we want to win, but with the group that we had there, it was about their development and their experiences and it was a really good test for them.
“They may have lost the game 3-2, but a lot of them have come in and will have gained so much because they were playing against seasoned professionals.
“The lads came through a physical battle and were close to getting a draw from it. The goals they let in earlier on came from mistakes, but there is not a single player who has played the game and never made a mistake.”
Humphreys continued to heap praise on the young Spireites, hailing the fixture as a defining moment in their development.
He added: “We know that we have got players on the pitch who can dribble the ball, play passes and score goals and Charlie is a great example of that.
“He came on at full-back and drove forward when he saw space; a little ball to Jake, a back-heel from him and then Charlie is on the other end of it and has the composure to finish it off himself.
“Luke is only an under-16’s player and he was playing against professionals, it was a great experience from him and he took his goal very nicely.
“From a development point of view, playing against all these professionals, it has been a good day for us. It just shows the strength of the academy players that we have got coming through.”