Chesterfield well beaten by Premier League Sheffield United but scoreline doesn't reflect the positives for the Spireites
Chesterfield were on the wrong end of a lopsided scoreline against Premier League Sheffield United, but had plenty to be positive about tonight at the Proact.
The 5-0 result reflected the quality on show in red and white, but didn't tell the story of how hard Town worked throughout the 90 minutes.
There were chances for the home side, who were never going to enjoy a lot of possession and tried to make the most of the ball when they got it.
Billy Sharp grabbed a hat-trick, adding to goals from Callum Robinson and Luke Freeman, in front of the second biggest ever Proact crowd for a friendly.
Sheffield United imposed themselves from the very first minute, earning an early corner and threatening through Callum Robinson's low 25-yarder, Luke Coddington watching it safely behind.
It was a breathless start, the red and white shirts pouring forward and looking for shooting and crossing opportunities high up the pitch, Town forced to work very hard to close down their visitors.
With five minutes gone Regan Slater found himself in acres of space on the edge of the area and was unlucky to see a fierce effort deflected wide.
The Blades were served a reminder that the hosts had come to play too, a counter attack giving Scott Boden the chance to release Anthony Spyrou who showed a nice turn of pace but couldn't quite fend off Phil Jagielka.
That seemed to settle the Spireites, who soon after put together their best spell of early possession.
United were soon back on the attack however and when Robinson escaped the clutches of Anthony Gerrard, Will Evans had to hare back and make a vital sliding challenge.
Gerrard made a goal-saving intervention of his own before the midway point of the half, clearing from his own six-yard area with Billy Sharp poised to strike.
Town had to be content to try and feed off scraps, but there were some. John Lundstram's careless pass out of defence allowed Liam Mandeville to feed Boden, the striker foiled on the edge of the area before he could shoot.
Having weathered a lot of pressure, Town actually looked quite comfortable defensively at the very time they conceded.
The Blades had worked the ball wide on a number of occasions without a great deal of joy, yet with 11 minutes left in the half Luke Freeman got to the byline and produced a lovely cross and Sharp didn't need a second invitation, glancing a deft header past Coddington.
There was action at both ends before the half was done, Mandeville tricking his way into the area and going down under a challenge, referee Darren England unmoved, before Coddington denied Sharp a second with a terrific point-blank stop at the back post.
Chesterfield enjoyed their best moments in the final minute before the break, Evans getting on the end of two corners and forcing saves from Marcus Dewhurst in the away goal.
It took United just four minutes of the second half to double their advantage and take full control, a low cross giving Robinson the chance to sweep home a sidefoot finish.
And it would have been three shortly after had it not been for the hand of Shwan Jalal, on at half-time for Coddington, tipping a Robinson effort onto the crossbar, Haydn Hollis clearing the rebound from danger.
The counter attack appeared to be Chesterfield's best bet and a clever dummy by Spyrou allowed him to race off down the right, gaining the box before his cross was cut out.
Sharp showcased his finishing ability by taking a Luke Freeman pass and dinking it over both Jalal and the backpedalling Hollis for number three.
The hat-trick looked on when Sharp ran onto a ball over the top, but last man Evans stayed with him and used his body to win both the ball and the free-kick.
It was long over as a contest but Town continued to work hard and with several subs on, came close to a consolation, Jay Sheridan fizzing a shot across the face of goal and wide, via a deflection.
Charlie Wakefield made a nuisance of himself in the latter stages and the Spireites enjoyed a little more possession as the game's rhythm was disrupted by replacements.
The final goal came at the other end however, Jalal denying the clean-through McGoldrick and watching in despair as the ball rebounded to the feet of Luke Freeman, who found the empty net.
Chesterfield: Coddington (Jalal 46), Gerrard (Rowley 46), Evans (Wedgbury 72), Hollis, Yarney, Buchanan (Sheridan 72), Weir (Weston 46), Maguire (McKay 61), Mandeville (Sharman 72), Boden (Smith 46), Spyrou (Wakefield 61).
Sheffield United: Dewhurst, Basham, Jagielka (Stearman 77), Bryan, K. Freeman (Baldock 67), Stevens (Fleck 77), Slater (Norwood 68), L. Freeman, Lundstrum, Robinson (McGoldrick 65), Sharp (Boyes 79). Subs: Fleck, O'Connell, Moore, Brunt.
Goalscorers: Sharp 34, 63, 76, Robinson 49, Freeman 90
Attendance: 6,270 (3,365 away)