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Chesterfield opened their preseason campaign with a 1-1 draw against local side Buxton at the Silverlands.
Shaun Tuton handed the non-league outfit the lead on 29 minutes before Jay O’Shea levelled on 80 minutes as Paul Cook handed first starts to new signings Charlie Raglan, Daniel Jones and Charlie Dawes.
Wearing the side’s new white away strip, Paul Cook fielded two different teams each side of half time, with a balance of experience and youth taking to the field in the first half.
19-year-old triallist goalkeeper Liam Matthews from Cardiff City looked to impress in goal behind a back four of Ian Evatt, Liam Cooper and youth team products Joe Massey and Laurence Maguire.
Sam Hird provided experience in midfield alongside recent signing Dawes, Joe Sugden and swedish triallist Michael who operated on the left wing behind Eoin Doyle and the ever versatile Ritchie Humphreys.
Stags manager Martin McIntosh fielded a strong side including former Spireite Derek Niven who featured over 300 times in a nine year spell at Saltergate.
Buxton looked the sharper of the two sides with forward Tuton providing a physical battle for Evatt throughout the first half.
On six minutes the striker turned well to produce a low shot which prompted Matthews’ first comfortable save of the afternoon.
Cook’s side had a first chance on goal on 11 minutes as Dawes and Humphreys linked well to allow the former room for a low shot from the edge of the box, but the 18-year-old’s effort dragged wide of the far post.
Maguire, brother of Sheffield United’s Harry, looked assured in his left back position and provided a notable covering challenge to deny Tuton after the Buxton forward beat Evatt in the air to break through on goal.
Lone striker Doyle was provided little service of note throughout the first 45 minutes by both wingers, with swedish winger Michael finding little joy down the left flank against Stags right back Alex Byrne.
On 28 minutes the hosts took the lead through Tuton after the ever dangerous forward was played through with a clever pass by Niven for the striker to nutmeg Evatt and finish purposefully from the edge of the box.
Moments later McIntosh’s side came close to doubling the lead after a neat interchange between Liam Hardy and Neil Stevens found Tuton but the young keeper did well to clear.
Chesterfield’s only sight on goal in a slow first half performance saw Humphreys strike a free kick from the edge of Buxton’s box after Michael was brought down, only for the PFA Chairman’s effort to sail over the bar on his return from the World Cup in Brazil.
Cook made ten changes to the side for the second half which saw first Chesterfield minutes handed to Raglan and Jones in a back four completed by Jack Broadhead and Tendayi Darikwa.
Sam Morsy, the club’s vice captain for the coming season, was paired with Jimmy Ryan behind an attacking midfield trio of O’Shea, Dan Gardner and Gary Roberts.
Armand Gnanduillet led the line for a stronger Spireites side as Chesterfield’s search for attacking outlets continues.
Chesterfield looked a much brighter side after the break with passing more crisp and purposeful.
Morsy came close to drawing the score level only moments into the second period with a low drive which prompted ‘keeper Adam Reid’s first save of the match.
The central defensive pairing of Broadhead and Raglan looked solid throughout the second half, with the recent acquisition from FC United of Manchester giving an air of confidence in possession and while looking assured in challenges.
Former Port Vale full back Jones was quick to demonstrate his ability going forward, providing bursting runs down the left flank overlapping Roberts in an area which Chesterfield perhaps lacked pace and delivery last season.
Buxton enjoyed far less possession in the second half and Chesterfield almost equalised through Darikwa after a clever one two with Gardner afforded the right back room for a shot which was well saved by Reid.
The Spireite pressure continued and Jay O’Shea scored the elusive goal on 80 minutes after a clever passage of play with Morsy allowed the Irishman to dance through numerous challenges before a composed finish.
The friendly gave run outs to the majority of the Chesterfield squad with the exception of goalkeepers Tommy Lee and Aaron Chapman, Drew Talbot and Ollie Banks, all of whom are recovering from respective injuries with Banks likely to be the last to return to the side after the foot injury suffered in the final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in March.
After the match, the Chesterfield boss gave his thoughts on his side’s opening pre season friendly.
The 47-year-old said: ‘It was important that we got under way, last year is now gone – done and dusted. We’re now in a tougher league and the important thing for these lads is to be out getting their practice in and playing.
‘It’s training for us and it’s a really good day for us because there’s so much leg work we want to get into the lads and so much fitness work to be done.
‘Today we weren’t great but we’re not here to be great; we’re here to improve and get better and for those reasons I think it was a really good day.’
On the new signings, Cook added: ‘I think it’s obvious that when you look at Daniel Jones you can see the quality of the lad and the other two players [Charlie Raglan and Charlie Dawes] equipped themselves really well.’
Cook reassured supporters that the injuries to Tommy Lee and Aaron Chapman were not threatening the start of their seasons.
He said: ‘They’ll be back next week so that’s really good, Drew [Talbot] has had an injection and obviously there’s Ollie Banks so we’re carrying four injuries at the minute but all the lads will make the start of the season, with Ollie being the last one.’
Massey, Evatt (c), Cooper, Maguire;
Dawes, Hird, Sugden, Michael;
Darikwa, Broadhead, Raglan, Jones;
Morsy (c), Ryan;
O’Shea, Gardner, Roberts;
Byrne (Taylor 45′), Palmer, Young, Green;
Stevens, Istead (c) (Amsebury 68′), Niven, King;
Tuton, Hardy (Davies 58′).