Read via the Chesterfield Post
Chesterfield stepped up their pre season preparations with a 2-2 draw against Leeds United at the Proact.
Leeds took the lead from the penalty spot through Rodolph Austin shortly after half time before a well taken brace from Sam Morsy put Chesterfield ahead, only for Austin to deny the Spireites a Championship scalp with a second penalty five minutes from time.
Amid anxiety surrounding the financial power of the club ahead of the coming season, Paul Cook’s side produced a first half performance that called into question the one division between the two sides.
Jay O’Shea returned from a hamstring injury to partner Gary Roberts and Jimmy Ryan in Chesterfield’s attacking midfield three and it was O’Shea who put the Spireites on the front foot with a clever turn and early cross to force a corner on five minutes.
Eoin Doyle lead the line for Chesterfield while the back four of Tendayi Darikwa, Ian Evatt, Liam Cooper and new signing Daniel Jones continued to develop their understanding.
Moments later Jones was involved on his first appearance at the Proact with a low cross which forced a stretched clearance from centre back Scott Wootton from the toe of Doyle at the front post as Chesterfield’s early pressure continued.
Dave Hockaday’s side could create few meaningful spells of possession of their own in the opening 15 minutes as Chesterfield began to dominate.
Chances fell to Morsy and Doyle in quick succession prompting fingertip saves from new signing Marco Silvestri in the Leeds goal in front of a travelling contingent of 1,769.
An audacious lob attempt from the halfway line from Gary Roberts followed, leaving Silvestri scrambling back to his goal line only to see the effort just clear the crossbar on 15 minutes.
Ryan, in a more advanced role partnering Roberts and O’Shea, demonstrated his passing range and accuracy throughout the first half, finding Doyle on the shoulder of the offside trap on numerous occasions as the central defensive duo of Wootton and Jason Pearce struggled to marshall the Irish forward.
On 29 minutes the visitors created a first attempt on goal which saw Aidy White break down the right flank only for Jones to cover excellently with a sliding challenge to block a powerful shot headed for the bottom corner of Tommy Lee’s goal.
The final ten minutes of the first half saw Chesterfield’s hold on the game loosen somewhat, with Leeds enjoying more of the ball.
A well worked interchange between White and right back Sam Byram culminated in a low cross from the latter which narrowly evaded the outstretched toe of Steve Morison at the back post.
Hird and O’Shea made way for Dan Gardner and Armand Gnanduillet at the break, meaning a reshuffle by Paul Cook which saw Ryan drop alongside Morsy and Doyle join the attacking midfield trio behind Gnanduillet who led the line after his hat trick against Alfreton in the side’s previous fixture.
Only seconds into the second period Leeds were awarded a penalty by referee Michael Naylor after Ryan tripped Luke Murphy just inside the area with an mistimed sliding challenge.
Austin stepped up and made no mistake, sending Lee the wrong way for his effort to nestle in the bottom right hand corner and take the lead for the visitors.
Chesterfield were quick to respond and the use of Gnanduillet as a target man saw Cooper’s punt from the back find the feet of the Ivorian who linked well with Doyle for the latter to find Morsy on the edge of the box.
Last season’s player of the year created room with his first touch for a well placed shot from 18 yards into the bottom corner to draw level.
The equaliser gave Chesterfield the momentum to reaffirm their first half dominance and Paul Cook’s side looked closer to being ready for the season opener at Leyton Orient with sustained periods of possession.
Another ball forward by Cooper found the head of Gnanduillet whose cushioned header found the path of Morsy who volleyed home with his left foot from twelve yards to hand Chesterfield the lead on 65 minutes.
Numerous substitutions for both sides followed with Ritchie Humphreys getting a run out alongside trialists Nicky Featherstone, Curtis Morrison and Derek Daly while the trial of Romuald Boco appears to have finished with news of the midfielder appearing for Bristol Rovers against Gloucester City.
The Spireites were denied a deserved victory when Jones brought down Byram in the box with a mistimed sliding challenge in an almost identical incident to that of Ryan on 85 minutes.
Austin again stepped up and fired the same way as his first spot kick beyond the reach of Lee to equalise for the Championship outfit.
The match saw Chesterfield well underway in their pre season campaign ahead of the visit of Premier League side Aston Villa to the Proact on Wednesday (30th July) night.
After the friendly, Chesterfield assistant manager Leam Richardson gave his thoughts on the draw. He said: ‘We took a lot of good things from the game. Obviously we were playing against a good side in Leeds United, but from our point of view I thought we moved the ball well.
‘There were some good individual performances and collectively for 75 minutes I thought we were the better team on the day.
‘I thought the two sides wanted to win. It was a good marker for ourselves and for Leeds United, they know we’re a good team off the back of last year when we played them.’
On the current injuries in the squad, Richardson added: ‘Hopefully Drew [Talbot] has got to the bottom of his problems which have been frustrating for him.
‘Ollie [Banks] is making good strides so hopefully he will be with us a week or two into the season so touch wood we will have a good couple of members of our squad back with us.’
With a number of trialists featuring in the final minutes of the game, Richardson clarified the recruitment situation faced by the club. He said: ‘Nicky Featherstone is a lad who’s come to us without a club. He’s helping us out in terms of bodies and we’re helping him out with fitness and game time.
‘We’re always on the lookout for good players so it’s been a good relationship in the meantime.
‘[Romuald] Boco has played for Bristol Rovers today. The manager wanted to speak to Boco, again he’s a good player but at the minute we have no finances to act on anything so we’ve helped eachother out.’
2 Darikwa, 23 Evatt (C), 6 Cooper, 3 Jones;
4 Hird (Gnanduillet 45′), 5 Morsy ( 15 75′);
10 O’Shea (Gardner 45′), 8 Ryan (Morrisson 81′), 11 Roberts (Featherstone 80′);
Subs: 15 Humphreys, 16 Raglan, 19 Dawes, 18 Gardner, 21 Gnanduillet, Anyan, Onovwigun, Featherstone, Clarke, Daly, Morrison.
2 Byram, 22 Wootton, 5 Pearce, 3 Warnock ( 28 73′);
18 Cook (40 66′), 8 Austin, 7 Murphy ( 19 66′), 14 White (11 Bianchi 64′);
20 Smith (16 Doukara 45′), 9 Morison ( 26 75′).
Subs: 4 Lees, 18 Tongue, 19 Norris, 31 Taylor, 32 Dawson, Berardi, Bianchi, Doukara, Taylor.