Big talking points from Chesterfield's pre-season defeat to Port Vale
Chesterfield ran League Two Port Vale close but were undone by one piece of quality in the pre-season friendly at the Technique Stadium on Saturday.
Former Manchester United youngster James Wilson scored the only goal of the game in the first-half, firing high into the net from the edge of the box after a smart one-two with strike partner Jamie Proctor.
The visitors finished the match with 10-men after goalkeeper Lucas Covolan was shown a red card for elbowing striker Nathan Tyson.
There was not a lot to choose between the two sides which should give the Spireites plenty of encouragement given Vale’s League Two campaign gets underway next Saturday, while the National League season is still three weeks away.
There was a minute’s applause before kick-off for Ernie Moss, who of course represented both of these clubs during his long and successful career.
Both sets of players took the knee before we got underway, the first time we have seen that happen at the Technique.
Town more than held their own in the first half an hour and enjoyed some good possession but only really had Jamie Grimes’ early header over the bar to show for their efforts.
Considering that Vale are well ahead of the Blues in their schedule, the hosts matched their fitness levels which bodes well for what will be another gruelling non-league season.
The final 15 minutes of the half burst into life as Proctor had a goal ruled out for offside, Danny Rowe had a crack from 25 yards which was parried by Covolan before the visitors took the lead through Wilson.
The striker, once one of the most hot prospects at Old Trafford, played a quick give-and-go with Proctor before skating across the edge of the box and curling the ball into the top corner.
Before half-time there was a lovely move which started and finished with Payne but the forward side-footed a volley from eight yards out straight at Covolan.
After the break, Chesterfield had the Valiants pinned in but were still waiting for that clear-cut chance.
Rowe tried his luck from 35-yards and the ball swerved, dipped and danced in the air before smacking the crossbar.
He went close again not long after, his looping header from Miller’s cross just went over the bar.
Up the other end, Spireites goalkeeper Scott Loach showed exactly what he can do with a stunning fingertip save onto the crossbar from Wilson’s close-range header.
Then came something you don’t often see in a pre-season friendly...a red card!
Substitute Tyson went chasing after a ball over the top and Covolan, who memorably scored for Torquay in last season’s play-off final, came rushing out and clattered him with his elbow.
Tyson almost made the 10-man visitors pay as he came close to sliding in a teasing cross from King.
The game threatened to boil over towards the end with Vale unhappy about a tackle from Grimes and Carline was booked for what followed in the aftermath before the full-time whistle was blown.
NOTHING TO FEAR
This was Chesterfield’s second game in a week against League Two opposition and it is fair to say they gave both Vale and Bradford City a tough game.
One win, one defeat, two goals scored and two conceded.
In both matches James Rowe’s men enjoyed some healthy possession, created chances and stood up to the challenge defensively.
On the evidence so far you would have to say the Spireites would not be out of their depth in the league above, but they just need to get out of this bonkers division first!
For me, the wing-backs Jeff King and Calvin Miller were the standout performers, with Saidou Khan impressing after coming on.
King seems to be getting into his stride and is improving game after game, as is Miller.
At one point King was so high up he was challenging Vale’s centre-halves!
You get the feeling King and Miller will be at the heart of everything Chesterfield do going forward. They might get caught out in the odd game defensively, but in an attacking sense they will more than make up for it.
Khan brings so much energy, can go past a man and looks to go forward at every opportunity.
MINUTES IN THE BANK
One of the big takes from this encounter was that Fraser Kerr and George Carline both got 45 minutes under their belt and Curtis Weston lasted 85.
Kerr started and Carline replaced him at the break, both playing on the right of a back three.
King got 83 minutes, Rowe and Payne 75, Mandeville 64 and Grimes played 90 for the four successive match. What a monster!
The most surprising find of the day!
Weston dropped to centre-back when Gunning went off at half-time with a knock, and he did a fine job.
He made one superb interception to stop Proctor turning in Benning’s cross from the left and he was neat and tidy in general.
It’s obviously not his natural position but at least we know he could be called upon if needed during the season.
We did not see Jim Kellermann, who featured against Matlock and Bradford, in this one as he was not risked after not playing much football in the last year.
He is still at the club and will take part in the upcoming week.
The trialist goalkeeper, who came on for the final 15 minutes against Bradford, took part in the pre-match warm-ups but did not get on.
Two other new trialists both got on, one with 15 minutes left and the other with five.
Both are likely to get a run-out against Aston Villa’s under-23s in a behind closed doors match on Wednesday.