SPIREITES: Pre-season schedule taking shape as Proact pitch is dug up

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Chesterfield’s pre-season programme is beginning to take shape with four away days penned in the diary already.

Dean Saunders will take his side to Matlock Town on Tuesday, July 14 (7.45pm kick off) to compete for the Autoworld Trophy before another all-Derbyshire affair on Tuesday, July 28 (7.45pm) at Ilkeston FC.

A Spireites X1, consisting of youth team players, trialists and maybe some of the first team squad, will travel to take on Staveley Miners Welfare on Friday, July 24 (7.45pm) and Belper Town on Wednesday, July 29 (7pm).

A visit to Hartlepool United on Saturday, August 1 (3pm) will see Ritchie Humphreys return to the club he represented more than 400 times in the last of the warm-up games before the season starts.

Chesterfield’s Proact pitch has received wide-spread praise this season for its lush playing surface, and the club aim to preserve that standing next season by relaying it this week.

No sooner had last season finished and all the supporter matches and half-term holiday camps come and gone did the Spireites ground staff start thinking and preparing for August’s fixtures.

There were more than 25 first team matches played on the pitch last season, including League One football, FA Youth Cup clashes, England U17s internationals and the Derbyshire Senior Cup Final.

Matlock, the winners of this season’s Derbyshire Senior Cup, and their boss Mark Hume praised the surface for the manner of their 7-0 win over Gresley on April 27 - in a testament to the work done by the ground staff. The pitch was in good condition for the play-off semi-final against Preston North End on May 7 in front of the Sky cameras as Chesterfield came so close to getting the edge in the tie. Groundsman Antony Haywood expects the pitch to be ready for late July and the first of the home pre-season friendlies.