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Match Previews

Chesterfield Preview

3 August 2017

It's time for another new season to begin on Saturday afternoon as Town make their first ever trip to the Proact Stadium for the League Two clash with Chesterfield (3pm).

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With over 2,300 tickets being snapped up by Mariners fans, it should prove to be a special atmosphere against the Spireites, who were relegated from League One with two games to spare in April and will be looking to bounce straight back under manager Gary Caldwell.

A good pre-season

It has been a good pre-season for Town, with Town boss Russell Slade bringing in eight players over the summer in young goalkeeper Ben Killip; defenders Nathan Clarke, Karleigh Osbourne and Paul Dixon; midfielder Mitch Rose; wingers Siriki Dembele and Sam Kelly and striker Harry Cardwell, and one would expect at least half of those players to start at the weekend.

Dembele in particular has impressed so far in his short time as a Town player, scoring four goals and assisting several more and he will be hoping to take that form into competitive action on Saturday.

Boss Russell Slade has made no secret of his desire to sign another striker to compete with Cardwell, Scott Vernon and Akwasi Asante and it remains to be seen whether that materalises over the weekend.

Centre midfield options limited

While several players could make their competitive debut for the Mariners, the team will be without long term absentees Jamie Osborne and Akwasi Asante for the opener.

Sean McAllister also remains on the sidelines and Chris Clements is also unlikely to be involved after missing most of pre-season, which means that centre midfield options are more limited for boss Russell Slade.

However, James Berrett looks set to be fit despite being forced off with a head injury against Wigan Athletic and looks to be the favourite to play alongside Mitch Rose, whilst Luke Summerfield could also come into contention after a strong performance in the final game of pre-season.

Chesterfield looking for a quick return

Manager Gary Caldwell took charge at Chesterfield in January and has stuck around to try and build a team to fire the Spireites straight back to the third tier, a feat that the former Celtic and Wigan Athletic defender accomplished as Latics manager when he guided them to the League Two title.

His job over the summer has been to rebuild the squad after 15 players left the club over the summer, including striker Ched Evans, midfielder Dan Gardner and ex-Town loanee Jon Nolan, who left for Sheffield United, Oldham Athletic and Shrewsbury Town respectively. 

Caldwell has signed 10 new players and looks to have bolstered the strike force in particular with the signings of Woking's Gozie Uguwu, who hit 19 goals in the National League campaign, and the experienced Chris O'Grady, who left Brighton  Hove Albion in the summer. An experienced backline of goalkeeper Tommy Lee and defenders Sam Hird and Ian Evatt have made over 600 appearances for the club between them so should be solid, whilst former Burton Albion and Leyton Orient midfielder Robbie Weir signed at the weekend and could be an important player. Defender Jerome Binnom-Williams is the only known absentee for the weekend, with him set to miss the first two months of the campaign.

The Spireites' pre-season has perhaps gone as expected, with victories over smaller sides such as Sheffield FC, Matlock Town and Buxton FC and losses to the likes of Sheffield United and Rotherham United. A pre-season break to Portugal and Spain will also have been a good experience for the club, where Caldwell's side drew 0-0 with a Benfica side and lost 2-0 to Middlesbrough. Some fans have voiced their concern at a lack of goals against the better sides in pre-season, although they finished their preparation with a 4-0 win over a youthful Doncaster Rovers side, and will be hoping to spoil the travelling Mariners' fans party. 

Managers in summary 

Russell Slade: ''It's a tough place to go to, a new stadium for our fans and it'll be rocking Saturday because we're taking so many down there. They'll look to play from the back, that's how his teams play and you know, he's had a promotion so he knows how to get a team prepared but we know what we're gonna be doing so that's the most important thing.''

Gary Caldwell: ''I think every first game of the season is a big occasion. The fans have been brilliant in the three games we’ve had here, the support has been fantastic. I’ve said all along, if we’re going to go on a journey as a club, the fans are the most important people because they have to come along with us and get behind the team, take them to the success we want to bring.”


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