Chesterfield held to goalless stalemate by Benfica B
Chesterfield's pre-season tour got off to a solid start with an entertaining but goalless draw with Benfica B.
The match, at Complexo Desportivo in Vila Real de Santo Antonio, Portugal, allowed boss Gary Caldwell to have a look at two new signings in action for the first time.
Both Chris O’Grady and Jak McCourt had plenty of involvement in the 0-0 stalemate, the former proving a real handful for the Portuguese side and McCourt making his presence known early with a strong challenge that drew gasps from the Benfica players in the stand.
Newest signing, Sheffield United youngster Louis Reed, arrived too late at the stadium to feature, having completed a season-long loan deal earlier in the day at the Proact.
The two sides spent the opening minutes feeling each other out, Benfica B shading the possession.
They traded early corners without creating much of a chance, Chesterfield’s best moments coming through the attacking threat of Joe Rowley and O’Grady.
A mistake from the League Two club handed Benfica B a golden chance, but Joe Anyon was equal to the shot from the edge of the box.
Benfica B then saw another shot slide the wrong side of the post as Town lived dangerously.
A nice bit of play from O’Grady and Gozie Ugwu released Reece Mitchell who cut inside and was fouled 35 yards out. The resulting free-kick ended in a Brad Bary shot that flew high and wide.
In a better spell for Town, O’Grady dummied and then received the ball back from strike partner Ugwu before drilling it off target.
A lovely ball from Rowley freed Ugwu and when Chesterfield recycled the ball, Brad Barry put it into the six-yard box where Benfica B clocked and cleared.
The young Portuguese side came closest to taking the lead with a ball over the top that saw their striker beat the Town defence but lob wide.
But Chesterfield had really grown into the game and were perhaps reluctant to hear the half-time whistle when it came, having begun to find space and some amount of joy on the flanks.
Gary Caldwell made nine changes at the break, keeping only Anyon and Mitchell on the pitch.
After a quiet opening 15 minutes to the half, Benfica B thought they’d broken the Town offside line with a dinked ball in behind, but as a forward directed his header wide, the flag went up.
Save a couple of long balls into the channels for Ricky German and Delial Brewster, Town were subdued by their opponents until midway through the half when a deep free-kick to the back post almost found Dion Donohue.
Chesterfield’s best move of the second half came with 15 minutes remaining, the ball worked nicely down the left for Jerome Binnom-Williams to swing in a cross that was cleared just as Connor Dimaio arrived.
Just like the first half, Chesterfield became more comfortable and adventurous as the second period wore on, Binnom-Williams getting the ball on the left again and cutting into the box where Mitchell and Brewster had touches before a free-kick was awarded to Benfica B.
The final whistle signalled Chesterfield’s first pre-season appearance without a goal scored and ended a solid workout for both teams fielded by Caldwell.
Chesterfield (first half): Anyon, Barry, Mitchell, Maguire, Wiseman, Evatt, Hird, Rowley, Wakefield, O’Grady, Ugwu. Second half: Anyon (Parkin 70), McGinn, Binnom-Williams, Donohue, Brownell, Smith, Dimaio, Mitchell, McCourt, Brewster, German.