Chesterfield looked in danger of suffering a heavy pre-season beating at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday at the Proact today, before a raft of substitutions changed the flow of the game.
The Spireites were under the cosh for the vast majority of the first half and escaped with just a 2-0 deficit at the break - but the scoreline wasn’t to change after a much more encouraging second half.
Gboly Aryibi’s introduction after the interval livened up proceedings for Chesterfield, especially when the Owls replaced 10 players all at once, taking off most of their star men.
If Aryibi lit up the second half, the first belonged to Fernando Forestieri.
The little forward danced his way past challenges, set up team-mates with delightful touches and scored one of the Wednesday goals.
He could have opened the scoring inside three minutes but having beaten two defenders, attempted to go around another and found himself crowded out.
The game was only nine minutes old when the Owls took the lead, Jack Hunt sending in a wicked low cross from the right, Kieran Lee converting past Chesterfield’s on-loan Liverpool stopper Ryan Fulton.
Hunt looked dangerous getting forward for the visitors, the returning Dan Jones thankful for the nearby presence of Dan Gardner as they doubled up to try and snuff out the full-back’s threat.
Danny Wilson’s men were struggling to find an outlet when they had possession, and when they didn’t have the ball they were under almost constant pressure as the ball zipped around at pace, Wednesday’s one-touch passing intricate and a joy to watch.
New signing Paul McGinn made a vital block at the back post to deny Marco Matias before Forestieri volleyed wide from 20 yards.
The second goal arrived before the half hour mark, nice interplay between Lucas Joao and Lee allowing Forestieri to nip in and sidefoot home from just inside the box.
Chesterfield came close to closing the gap when Dan Jones sent in a wonderful cross and youngster Curtis McDonald steered it just past the post.
And skipper Gary Liddle had a headed goal ruled out for offside after some patient build-up from the hosts, the half ending with a little promise for the men in blue.
Wilson made seven changes at half-time, Carlos Calvahal responding with just one, Hunt replaced by Marnick Vermijl.
A stirring surge forward by Rai Simons gave Kristian Dennis his first shot at his new home ground, but the striker’s effort was blocked.
And the former non-league man then showed a fantastic first touch to take down Sam Hird’s raking long pass, before his cross was deflected out of play for a corner that mysteriously wasn’t given.
Reece Mitchell, recently signed from Chelsea, showcased his pace in a 50-yard drash, but his touch let him down as he neared the Owls’ box.
By the time it became the Ariyibi-show, Wednesday had made 10 changes at once, sending on a mixture of youngsters and fringe players.
The Chesterfield winger gave marker Jérémy Hélan a torrid time.
First he outmuscled and outpaced the full-back to get to the byline, crossing for Dennis who saw his first-time effort fly just wide.
The overall tempo of the game dropped significantly, although every time Ariyibi picked up possession there was an edge to proceedings.
He skinned Hélan again and then won a free-kick in a dangerous position, seconds later putting an inviting cross into the box.
There was little more in the way of meaningful action at either end, Wednesday, and Hélan in particular, presumably as happy to hear the final whistle as the Spireites were to hear the referee blow for half-time.
Chesterfield: Fulton (Brennan 76); McGinn (Graham 77), Hird, Evatt (Raglan HT), Jones (Donohue HT); Morrison (Ariyibi HT), Liddle (Humphreys 77), Banks (Dimaio HT), Gardner (Mitchell HT); O’Shea (Dennis HT), Ebanks-Blake (Simons HT). Substitutes: Beesley.
Wednesday: Wildsmith (Dawson 61); Hunt (Vermijl HT), Lees (O’Grady 61), Hutchinson (Lee 61), Palmer (Helan 61); Wallace (Stobbs 61), Bannan (Melo 61), Lee, (Semedo 61), Matias (McGugan 61); Forestieri (Hirst 61) Joao (Nuhiu 61).