Sheffield Wednesday: Owls cruise past Spireites
Two well-crafted goals, a clean sheet and a first pre-season victory.
Wednesday’s trip to the Proact Stadium proved most profitable.
Even without Keiren Westwood, Glenn Loovens, Steven Fletcher and Gary Hooper, the Owls still had far too much quality for League One side Chesterfield.
For over an hour, Carlos Carvalhal fielded his strongest possible 11 and that’s when damage was done.
There looked a huge gulf in class between the two teams, especially in the first half. Wednesday oozed class in and out of possession. Their clever one-ouch passing and interplay overwhelmed Chesterfield at times.
Jack Hunt was a superb outlet on the right-hand side, Barry Bannan ran the show in the middle of the park and Fernando Forestieri, making his first appearance this summer, was a constant menace.
Hunt was given a licence to bomb on and support the attack and he was the architect of the Owls’ ninth-minute opener, supplying an inch perfect low cross which Kieran Lee slammed past on-loan Liverpool goalkeeper Ryan Fulton.
It took Chesterfield until the 24th minute to have a clear sight at goal, centre-back Sam Hird, who was the only player on either side to complete the full 90 minutes, shooting straight at Joe Wildsmith when well placed.
Forestieri, Wednesday’s top scorer in their march to the Championship Play-off Final last season, looked in the mood from the start to inflict some pain on the Spireites and there was no surprise when he doubled the lead for Carvalhal’s men just before the half-hour mark.
The Argentine forward calmly side-footed home from 15 yards after great build-up play by Lee and Lucas Joao.
Carvalhal said: “I was very happy with the opening 45 minutes. We played with high intensity and quality. We were good. I am happy with what we did.”
The closest Chesterfield came to reducing the deficit in a one-sided half was in the 37th minute when youngster Curtis McDonald screwed an effort just wide at the back post following a fine cross by Dan Jones.
It was a lot more competitive after the interval, with both sides making a raft of changes. Wednesday introduced a mixture of fringe players and youngsters, including Jack Lee, Connor O’Grady and George Hirst.
The biggest plus for the Spireites was Gboly Aryibi’s performance. His pace and trickery bamboozled Jeremy Helan on a number of occasions.
Little wonder other clubs are tracking the speedy attacker.
After shrugging off the attentions of Helan, Aryibi teed up summer signing Kristian Dennis who made a hash of his finish.
While he is not concerned with the final scoreline, Carvalhal declared himself satisfied with Wednesday’s display.
“The score is not important,” he stressed. “It is all about the process.
“It was not perfect but it was a very good step from the last game. The offensive dynamic was very good and we made very few mistakes.
“We have taken another big step to be more near where we want for the new season.”
On this evidence, the Owls are heading in the right direction, but Carvalhal recognises that the team urgently needs strengthening defensively.
Liam Palmer was used as a makeshift left-back for the second warm-up match on the spin and Carvalhal regards Helan as a left winger rather than a full-back.
Carvalhal is targeting a minimum of two new left-backs and a centre-back.
If Wednesday can make some canny signings in those positions over the coming weeks, things will start to look very rosy.
*Chesterfield: Fulton (Brennan 76); McGinn (Graham 77), Hird, Evatt (Raglan HT), Jones (Donohue HT); Morrison (Ariyibi HT), Liddle (Humphreys 77), Banks (Dimaio HT), Gardner (Mitchell HT); O’Shea (Dennis HT), Ebanks-Blake (Simons HT). Sub not used: Beesley.
*Wednesday: Wildsmith (Dawson 61); Hunt (Vermijl HT), Lees (O’Grady 61), Hutchinson (Lee 61), Palmer (Helan 61); Wallace (Stobbs 61), Bannan (Melo 61), Lee, (Semedo 61), Matias (McGugan 61); Forestieri (Hirst 61) Joao (Nuhiu 61).