Chesterfield rout Rovers in perfect end to pre-season
Chesterfield finished their pre-season in almost perfect style, routing 10-man Doncaster Rovers 4-0 at the Proact Stadium.
The Spireites were dominant before and after the 40th minute sending off of Rovers frontman Alfie May.
And the only two negatives for boss Gary Caldwell will be the knocks picked up by defenders Brad Barry and Ian Evatt.
Numerous positives included an impressive performance from trialist Robbie Weir in the midfield, a masterclass in forward play from Chris O’Grady and a solid defensive unit that dealt with Rovers’ rare attacks.
The two sides traded early set-piece chances. A short corner routine for Chesterfield ended in a dangerous Jordan Sinnott cross that Rovers cleared, before the visitors won a free-kick in a good position, took it quickly and May fired wide of the far post.
Gozie Ugwu was involved in plenty of Town’s initial work, sending in a fine cross that eventually fell to Sinnott, the midfielder’s shot blocked for a corner that Dion Donohue took and Ugwu almost connected with.
Chesterfield saw plenty of the ball in the opening quarter of an hour, pinging it around well and patiently crafting their attacks, without finding the final killer pass.
With Weir providing a stable presence in the middle of the park, Louis Reed began to impose himself further forward - first sending a lovely ball to the back post where neither Brad Barry or Dennis took advantage, before bringing a save from Marko Marosi from 30 yards.
O’Grady, who was proving a handful for the Rovers defence, came closest to a goal inside the first 30 minutes, his curling shot palmed over the top by a full-stretch Marosi.
While Town’s attack force were heavily involved, Rovers’ May was evidently growing in frustration and after the officials missed what he believed was a foul, he flew into a challenge on Sinnott from behind and sparked a shoving match.
Referee Mark Heywood sorted it out with yellow cards for May and Sinnott, who reacted angrily to the foul.
Seconds later Reed left May in a heap on the floor to worsen the visiting striker’s mood.
Chesterfield continued to dominate their visitors, O’Grady skinning a defender and dinking to the middle where Gozie Ugwu just couldn’t direct his header at goal.
And life got even harder for Rovers with five minutes left in the half, May fouling Barry and then stamping on the defender to earn a straight red card.
The game threatened to boil over completely when Ugwu went in late on Andy Butler, who squared up to the striker before O’Grady ran in to grapple with the defender - a yellow for Ugwu the final result.
After the break, Chesterfield came out looking to press home their man advantage, Weir sending an early effort goalwards but failing to trouble Marosi.
The goal they were threatening for so long arrived 10 minutes into the second period, Sinnott’s cross picking out Ugwu in the m iddle, he headed it down to Dennis and he found the net after his initial effort came off the post.
Town continued to retain full control of the ball and the game, Sinnott’s low drive tipped round the post by Marosi.
A plethora of substitutions disrupted the flow of the game but Town fans didn’t seem to mind as they got a chance to welcome goalkeeper Tommy Lee back to the Proact after a year out injured.
And when things settled down again, Donohue went on a lovely run before shaping to shoot and then sliding the ball to Delial Brewster, the replacement tapping in goal number two.
It was all Town in the second half and they probed and probed for openings, looking for width through the full-backs and putting balls into the Rovers box.
The patience paid off with seven minutes remaining, Reed slipping the ball to Ugwu who turned and blasted the ball past substitute keeper Louis Jones for a 3-0 lead.
Goal number four arrived just two minutes later, Paul McGinn attacking up the right and picking out Reece Mitchell who had a simple sidefoot finish.
There were two moments that will have worried the home fans in the latter stages, so close to League Two kick-off, with both Evatt and Barry leaving the field injured.
Chesterfield: Anyon (Lee 62), Barry (Mitchell 62), Donohue, Hird, Evatt (Maguire 88), Sinnott (McGinn 70), Weir (McCourt 58), Reed, Dennis (Brewster 58), O’Grady (Wakefield 70), Ugwu. Subs: Dimaio.
Doncaster: Marosi (Jones 66), Blair (Garratt 46), Alcock, Wright, Butler (Walker 46), Mason (Fletcher 46), Middleton, Khamis (Fielding 66), McSheffrey, May, Williams (Scattergood 75). Subs: Towrow.
Referee: Mr Mark Heywood. Assistants: Mr Nigel Smith, Mr Paul Thompson.
Goalscorers: Dennis 55, Brewster 72, Ugwu 83, Mitchell 85
Yellows: Sinnott 31; May 31
Red: May 40
Attendance: 1,867 (350)