Chesterfield narrowly beaten by Derby County in Nicholson testimonial

Shane Nicholson
Shane Nicholson
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Chesterfield were pipped by Championship side Derby County at the Proact, in Shane Nicholson’s testimonial game.

It was a battle of the first teams for 70 minutes, before Nicholson came on at left-back for a Spireites side who went on to lose 2-1.

But there were huge positives to take from the first hour at least for Danny Wilson, who handed Ched Evans a first start at his new home ground.

Evans’ performance was one of a number of encouraging signs for Town.

The attacking link-up play between Dan Jones and Dan Gardner down the left was also a highlight, especially in the first half.

And Jay O’Shea provided some of his trademark trickery, along with the Spireites’ goal.

Town were a threat from set pieces, Ian Evatt getting on the end of most deliveries, and Ryan Fulton in goal made some eye catching saves.

After a bright opening few minutes from Chesterfield, the two sides traded chances, Max Lowe curling a lovely effort onto the underside of the Chesterfield crossbar, the ball bouncing down on the line but not over it, before at the other end, Evans shot low and hard but straight at Jonathan Mitchell.

Evans sent a free-kick straight into the wall on 25 minutes after a stirring run from Gboly Ariyibi, and Ian Evatt then rose at the back post to head a corner goalwards, a defender blocking on the line.

One of the best moments of the first half was a peach of a long driven pass from Charlie Raglan that found the run of Evans, who couldn’t quite bring the ball under his control as he reached the box.

A quick break from the home side gave Paul McGinn a chance to get forward, the right-back winning a corner that again found Evatt, this header the wrong side of the post.

At the end of a really positive half from Wilson’s men, they almost gifted their visitors an opener, Fulton rolling the ball to Raglan who was facing the other way, the centre-half forced into a vital clearance as the Rams looked to capitalise.

After such a positive first half, Chesterfield looked to continue in the same vein after the break, some lovely footwork from Jay O’Shea creating space for him to release Evans, the striker’s low drive well held by Kelle Roos, on for Mitchell in goal.

Evans then had a shot blocked and an O’Shea effort was deflected enough to take the sting out of it, Roos collecting.

The excellent start to the second half carried on, a slip up from the Rams defence gifting Evans possession with Roos out of position, the front man sliding the ball to O’Shea whose hard goalbound effort was brilliantly headed off the line by Alex Pearce.

But in the blink of an eye and against the run of play, Derby took a 52nd minute lead, a deflected shot finding its way to Bent who flicked it past the onrushing Fulton with the outside of his boot.

Town were only behind for four minutes, a throw in finding O’Shea in the area and the Irishman controlled, turned and blasted the ball past Roos at his near post to level.

There was a glorious chance for Derby to retake the lead, Bent being put clean through once more but this time seeing his flicked effort blocked and gathered by Fulton.

They weren’t to be denied a minute later however, a deep corner to the back post headed into the net by substitute Farrend Rawson.

Derby began to dominate, Fulton called into action again to get down to his left and palm away a Johnny Russell effort.

With 19 minutes left on the clock the man of the moment Nicholson entered the game to a standing ovation from both sets of supporters.

His first real contribution to his testimonial was an 80th minute corner that found Evatt at the back stick, the big man just put off by his marker.

By that time Wilson had replaced several players, including Evans who put in a promising shift.

His replacement, Kristian Dennis, was straight into the action, first seeing a shot blocked by Chris Baird and then shooting low from distance, Roos saving comfortably.

That was the last meaningful action before both sides formed a guard of honour for Nicholson to leave the pitch as a Spireite one final time.

Chesterfield: Fulton, Jones (Nicholson 71), Evatt, Raglan, McGinn, Gardner (Mitchell 76), Dimaio, Liddle, Ariyibi (Graham 79), O’Shea (Morrison 76), Evans (Dennis 76). Not used: Maguire, Humphreys, Allinson.

Derby: Mitchell (Roos 46), Hanson (Stabana 62), Forsyth, Bryson, Pearce (Rawson 62), Baird, Lowe (Gordon 71), Hendrick (Elsnik 71), Bent, Weimann (Vernam 79), Russell. Not used: Cover, Babos.

Goalscorers: O’Shea 56; Bent 52, Rawson 65