Phil Tooley reflects on the opening pre-season friendly, a 3-2 win at Belper Town.
Rarely can a pre-season friendly have conjured up as much anticipation as this short trip to Christchurch Meadow, home of Northern Premier League Division One (South East) side Belper Town.
Having not played since March, combined with the summer takeover by the Chesterfield FC Community Trust, Spireites fans, management and players were all desperate to be involved in some sort of on-the-park action and the game itself produced five goals and early glimpses of new faces, with keeper Kyle Letheren and midfielder Milan Butterfield being the main observation targets.
Both men started and Butterfield was soon in the action, opening the scoring just 13 minutes in with a smart box-edge finish. The goal came from a quick David Buchanan throw, he picked out the midfielder who, as he did throughout the first half, continually found space off the ball to offer himself as a safe outlet and, on this occasion, the space was exploited to the full.
Equally of note was that the throw was won after a full-blooded tackle made by Laurence Maguire, his first action since picking up a nasty knee injury on Boxing Day. He didn’t seem to be thinking of that.
Jonathan Smith doubled the lead with a deflected 20-yarder and he also scored the third with a crackerjack 25-yard looping shot after a terrific run from the back by Jamie Sharman. One to remember.
Letheren had a quiet hour or so, he caught what needed to be caught and he kicked well enough and he got a hand to Belper’s 41st minute opener which saw a straight, high ball down the middle dealt with better by the attacker, Derry Robson, rather than the Spireites defence. Work needed.
By the time the Nailers scored their second, Dylan Wharton was in goal. Ex-Spireite and local lad Charlie Dawes’ cross in wasn’t attacked by the heavily reshuffled defence, allowing a home triallist to turn and convert from close in.
Nathan Tyson had been named in the starting XI but, during the warm up, he felt a little stiffness so was replaced as a precaution by Luke Rawson, who was one of only two players, along with Josef Yarney, to feature for the full 90 minutes. Curtis Weston (calf) and Haydn Hollis (chest) didn’t feature, but neither are major worries for the manager.
There was a triallist (midfielder) came on at half-time; post-match, Pemberton didn’t want to name him but did confirm that he was a contracted Swindon Town player. Last season’s youth players Wharton and Brandon Bradbury came on just before the hour-mark – they’re not formally connected with the club at the moment but are known to the manager.
Current U19 players Callum Brook and Harrison Beeden also played the final half-hour which meant there were, by Pemberton’s own admission, too many players playing out of position plus he didn’t really want to play Yarney for the full 90, but there was no real option having unexpectedly lost Tyson.