Chesterfield got their pre-season campaign underway with a defeat as first half goals from Kieran Lee and Fernando Forestieri earned Sheffield Wednesday a comfortable 2-0 victory.
The Owls started the contest strongly and Lee converted Jack Hunt’s cross from close range to open the scoring in the ninth minute.
Nineteen minutes later, Forestieri finished off a good move from the visitors with a low strike past goalkeeper Ryan Fulton to double the advantage.
From then on the outcome never really looked in doubt, despite a few decent opportunities for the Spireites, and Wednesday saw out victory in a second half that lacked any real flow or urgency.
Seventy-seven days on from the 3-0 home victory over Bury that secured their League 1 status, Chesterfield were back in action at the Proact Stadium this afternoon – less than 24 hours after returning from a pre-season trip to Hungary that had included a 4-3 defeat to Cypriot side Apollon Limassol behind closed doors.
The Championship’s Sheffield Wednesday, who missed out on a top flight place by the odd goal in May’s play-off final, were the first public opposition of the season for the Spireites and it was going to be a tough task with Owls boss Carlos Carvalhal naming seven of the eleven who had started at Wembley that day.
As expected, it was Wednesday who started on the front foot – Forestieri offering the Proact crowd a glimpse of his ability as he twisted and turned past defenders in the area before finally being closed down as he looked to get a shot away.
With nine minutes on the clock, Lee gave the visitors the lead. Former Spireite full-back Hunt was the creator; his low cross finding Lee in front of goal and the 28-year-old made no mistake in converting the opportunity past on-loan goalkeeper Fulton.
Another Hunt cross nearly led to a second goal as he picked out Marco Matias at the far post – the Portugese forward denied by an excellent block from new signing Paul McGinn.
Chesterfield’s first good opportunity of the contest arrived in the 24th minute when Jay O’Shea’s whipped cross towards the six-yard box was met by the stretching Sam Hird, who just failed to get a strong enough connection on the ball to challenge goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith.
The Owls quickly reasserted their dominance, however, by doubling the lead. Some neat build-up play on the edge of the area was finished off with a confident low finish from Forestieri.
After a slight lull in proceedings, the Spireites had their best spell of the afternoon so far as the interval approached – youngster Curtis Morrison scuffing a good opportunity wide of the target, before Gary Liddle found the net with a glancing header only to discover he was offside.
Despite this, the visitors almost added a third goal just moments before half time as Forestieri’s driven effort from inside the area was only denied by a Hird block.
One inevitability of these type of fixtures is a large amount of substitutions and eight of these came at half time – seven for Danny Wilson’s men, including a home debut for Kristian Dennis, while Hunt was replaced by Marnick Vermiji for Wednesday.
It didn’t take the Owls manager long to join in on the mass replacements though, making grand total of ten in one go shortly after the hour mark in a moment that left the contest verging on farcical and, at times, with the feeling of a training exercise as the afternoon wore on.
But then, out of nowhere, Gboly Ariyibi charged past Jeremy Helan on a glorious run into the area, cutting the ball back to Dennis who somehow guided the ball wide of the target from close range.
This proved to be one of the final chances of note in the game however, besides a good run from Jack Stobbs which ended with a strike over the crossbar, and Wednesday’s first victory of their pre-season campaign never really looked in doubt.
Carvalhal’s side now look ahead to a meeting with 35-time Portugese champions Benfica on Wednesday evening, while Chesterfield are next in action at Matlock Town as they compete for the Autoworld Cup.
Line-up: Ryan Fulton (Connor Brennan ’76), Paul McGinn (Liam Graham ’76), Dan Jones (Dion Donohue ’46), Sam Hird, Gary Liddle (Ritchie Humphreys ’76), Ian Evatt (Charlie Raglan ’46), Dan Gardner (Conor Dimaio ’46), Jay O’Shea (Reece Mitchell ’46), Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (Kristian Dennis ’46), Ollie Banks (Gboly Ariyibi ’46), Curtis Morrison (Rai Simons ’46)
Unused Subs: Jake Beesley
Sheffield Wednesday (2)
Line-up: Joe Wildsmith (Cameron Dawson ’61), Jack Hunt (Marnick Vermiji ’46), Liam Palmer (Jack Lee ’61), Tom Lees (Jose Semedo ’61), Sam Hutchinson (Filipe Melo ’61), Marco Matias (Atdhe Nuhiu ’61), Ross Wallace (Lewis McGugan ’61), Barry Bannan (George Hirst ’61), Kieran Lee (Connor O’Grady ’61), Fernando Forestieri (Jack Stobbs ’61), Lucas Joao (Jeremy Helan ’61)
Unused Subs: n/a
Scorers: Kieran Lee ‘9, Fernando Forestieri ’28
Date: 16th July 2016
Competition: Pre-Season Friendly
Referee: Mr Mark Haywood
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