Trialist keeper stars as Alfreton hand Spireites first pre-season defeat
Chesterfield's pre-season unbeaten streak came to an end with a 2-0 defeat at near neighbours Alfreton Town.
The side from the division below provided a difficult, physical test for the visitors, playing some nice football along the way.
Goals from their towering strikers Richard Peniket and Tom Denton did the damage against a Chesterfield team containing youth team players, first teamers and those on the fringe.
Alfreton’s trialist keeper was arguably the star of the afternoon, denying several visiting players with some excellent saves.
For Chesterfield, Joe Rowley was lively and striker Lee Shaw did everything but score.
The hosts had a chance to put the Chesterfield back four under pressure on seven minutes, Craig King’s free-kick to the back post inviting Tom Platt to attack the ball, Sam Wedgbury defending well to concede a corner.
Alfreton came even closer when King skipped away down the right and crossed low for Denton, Drew Talbot nipping and denying the big striker.
But seconds later a long throw was headed against the bar by Denton and Peniket was there to stab home from a yard or so out.
Chesterfield threatened themselves from the long throw of Jordan Sinnott at the other end, Joe Rowley clearing the crossbar with his header.
With 20 minutes played Peniket should have capitalised on great work from Callum Chettle and doubled his tally, but the frontman curled the ball out of the ground from just inside the box.
Shaw got his first sight of goal from an overhit Wedgbury cross, the Spireites striker sidefooting wide after creating space for himself at the back post.
Martin Allen made a switch to a three man midfield and his side responded, with a better spell.
Laurence Maguire strode out of defence on the half hour mark and had a blast from distance, the shot rising over the top but not by much.
Talbot then clipped in a lovely cross and Luke Rawson strained to get a flick on it, Alfreton’s trialist keeper saving comfortably.
Conditions worsened considerably at the break but there was plenty of action in the first minutes of the second half.
Shaw somehow reached a Brad Barry cross at the byline but could only knock it onto the roof of the net, then Nathan Hotte’s long range shot was deflected wide.
Rowley was becoming more influential as the game worn on and having controlled a Sinnott pass on his chest, fired goalwards only for a deflection to take it past the post.
A through ball from Chettle put King in space behind the Town defence and he drew a smart stop from Anyon at the near post, Alfreton breaking out from a spell of Chesterfield pressure.
They doubled their lead when the impressive King switched the ball to his left foot and dinked a cross to the back post, Denton nodding past Anyon.
Another Rowley effort went close for the visitors, although it was always rising.
The game took a bizarre twist when referee Tom Nield refused to let Alfreton make a fourth substitution, having premitted five changes for the Spireites. Away boss Allen joined in with Billy Heath’s protests and, mischievously, then tried to make a sixth swap before being sent back to the dugout.
A lull in the action was finally ended when Shaw ran clean through after a defensive slip, the trialist keeper saving brilliantly with his feet before watching with relief as Shaw failed to get a touch on Barry’s dinked cross.
Laurence Maguire then came close, his near post volley from a corner forcing the stopper into another good stop.
And he was at it again in the final three minutes, flying through the air to palm away a Maguire header and secure his clean sheet.
Alfreton: Trialist, Clifton, Wilde, Shiels (Clackstone 52), Lane, Platt (Clarke 69), Hotte (Trialist 69), Chettle, King, Denton, Peniket. Subs: Bacon, Bateson, Durrant, Nicholson.
Chesterfield: Anyon, Sinnott (Trialist 63), Smith (Wakefield 52), Maguire, Sharman, Talbot (Barry 46), Ofoegbu (Amantchi 58), Rowley, Wedgbury, Shaw, Rawson (Render 63). Subs: Jalal.
Referee: Tom Nield. Assistants: Dan McDonald, Bradley Maw.
Goalscorers: Peniket 12, Denton 63