Four talking points as Chesterfield impress in win against Bradford City
Chesterfield recorded an impressive pre-season victory against League Two Bradford City at the Technique Stadium on Tuesday night.
Danny Rowe scored against his former club and Stefan Payne added another as the Spireites raced into a two-goal lead after just five minutes.
The Bantams changed their entire starting line-up at half-time and were much-improved after the break with Paudie O’Connor pulling one back with a header from Callum Cooke’s cross on 49 minutes.
Charles Vernam crashed a header against the crossbar for the visitors and O’Connor was denied a late equaliser after a top save from an unnamed trialist goalkeeper.
This was Bradford’s first defeat in pre-season after winning their previous five, including victories against Blackburn Rovers and Doncaster Rovers, so the Blues can be pleased with their night’s work.
Town showed two different sides to them in this encounter, which bodes well for the future.
In the first 45 minutes they played some attractive football, putting together a number of eye-catching moves with one and two-touch combinations.
Rowe opened the scoring after just two minutes, bundling the ball home from a yard out after good work by Jack Clarke and Jeff King down the right. Rowe did not celebrate his goal, but he might have wished he had after being booed by some of those in the away end when he was substituted in the second-half.
The hosts soon doubled their lead when Payne slotted the ball past former Chesterfield goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell. There was a delayed reaction to the celebrations from the home faithful because Payne looked to have strayed offside but the linesman’s flag stayed down.
The high-tempo football from the Spireites continued as Rowe went close again when he stung the palms of O’Donnell from 30 yards.
The lively Calvin Miller, who had his best game so far, had the beating of his man in the first-half and his deflected cross almost crept in at the near post but O’Donnell made a smart save.
Clarke played a couple of sharp one-twos which got bums off seats before he was involved in a lovely move just before the break. Jamie Grimes played the ball into Clarke’s feet on the half-turn before he fed a clever pass into space for Payne who shot straight at O’Donnell from 20 yards.
It was slick, exciting and entertaining and made you wonder what might be possible this season.
Bradford swapped all 11 of their players at half-time and they forced the Blues back.
The home supporters might have been wanting more of what they saw in the first-half but in the long run the second 45 minutes was just, if not more, as important.
Town were asked a number of questions as the Bantams came on strong so it was a good fitness and tactical test, which they passed.
The midfield partnership of Manny Oyeleke and new signing Saidou Khan was one of the main takes from this game for me.
They complimented each other very well and showed a level of understanding of a pair who had played together hundreds of times.
Oyeleke tended to sit deep, while Khan was given a bit more freedom to bomb forward.
Khan’s ability to travel with the ball got Chesterfield up the pitch quickly and created space for the likes of Rowe and Clarke to exploit.
Jak McCourt, who has had a good pre-season so far, replaced Khan at half-time and Weston, a player of the year contender last season, also came on 10 minutes after the break, highlighting the strength in depth in midfield.
And we can’t mention the midfield without praising Clarke. Playing for the first time this pre-season, he was a joy to watch at times. It will be a close call between him and Mandeville for that ‘number 10’ spot but a welcome headache for the gaffer.
There were more signs in this match of a partnership growing between Rowe and Payne.
Rowe was his usual classy self, picking up the ball in little pockets and trying to work openings, but it was also good to see him sniff out a one-yarder rather than a 30-yarder!
Payne took his goal coolly, stroking the ball past O’Donnell when finding himself one-on-one.
We also saw more examples of Payne’s hold-up play and aerial ability.
That’s three goals in the last two matches for the front two and you would have to say they are in the driving seat to start at Aldershot on August 21.
The ‘Trialist’ family get about a bit in pre-season, don’t they?
Three were given a chance to impress, and we finally had a name for one of them by the end of the night.
James Kellermann, 25, who boss Rowe worked with at Aldershot, replaced Laurence Maguire who went off with blurred vision midway through the first-half.
Kellermann, who looks to be versatile having played in midfield and defence so far, featured against Matlock Town last week and linked up with the squad for the training camp at Loughborough.
He played on the right of a back three here, and made an excellent last-gasp sliding tackle late on to stop a certain goal.
The manager revealed his name unprompted in his post-match interview, so perhaps that is an indication that he is set to be offered a deal.
The goalkeeper trialist looked nervy but made one outstanding save low down to his left to block O’Connor grabbing a late equaliser.
The striker trialist, who scored against Alfreton before going off injured, came on for the final nine minutes.
(3-5-2): Loach (Trialist, 73); Grimes, Gunning, Maguire (Kellermann, 34); King, Oyeleke (Trialist, 80), Khan (McCourt, 46), Clarke (Mandeville, 46), Miller (Rowley, 70) Rowe (Weston, 55), Payne (Tyson, 64).