Dean Saunders selected his first ever Chesterfield league line up whilst Lee Johnson led Barnsley into the first game of the season for the first time. The manager has just one debutant in his starting line-up, striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake lines up alongside Jay O’Shea in a team that mirrors the one that won the final pre-season friendly at Hartlepool United last week.
Back-up keeper Alex Cains waS the only other new face in Chesterfield’s matchday squad.
Johnson, a former Chesterfield player, gave four debuts in his young side, Marc Roberts, Alfie Mawson, Dan Crowley and Conor Wilkinson. No Mason Holgate in the 18 adding grist to the mill regarding a move to Old Trafford. On the bench Johnson included summer signings Nick Townsend, Marley Watkins and Joe Rothwell.
Debutant Conor Wilkinson scored just four minutes in after a terrific run from teenager Danny Crowley who set up the Bolton loanee to side step Dan Jones and left foot home from 15 yards.
Crowley has been the pick of Reds’ midfielders but defender Marc Roberts and keeper Adam Davies have been key to the visitors retaining their lead.
Roberts, in his first league game for Barnsley, has acted like a magnet with every ball in finding him and the ex Halifax man also had a close range header fly just wide of the post after a Conor Hourihane free-kick.
Davies had to be at his best to deny close range efforts from Sam Hird, twice and Gboly Ariyibi and he made a magnificent tip over save to prevent a Dan Gardner rocket from 25 yards.
A non-stop game between two even sides, though Chesterfield’s seven corners without reply show how much the hosts have attacked, but the final ball in has been lacking.
Ian Evatt and Conor Wilkinson both booked.
Half Time Chesterfield 0 Barnsley 1
Jay O’Shea leveled the scores four minutes after the restart after solid work by Sylvan Ebanks-Blake before two goals in a minute from Spireites all but ended the contest. Ebanks-Blake turned on the edge of the six to hook home after Sam Hird had helped Dan Gardner’s corner on.
With the home crowd still celebrating, Barnsley sub George Williams erred and Sam Morsy benefitted, hitting a 20 yarder in off the post to make it 3-1.
The stats showed 19 shots to Chesterfield plus 14 corners with Reds at 8 and 1 respectively, but the game was closer than that, though Spireites’ second half show was impressive enough in its own right.
Spireites: Lee, Talbot, Evatt, Hird, Jones, Gardner, Morsy, Banks, Ariyibi, O’Shea, Ebanks-Blake. Subs: Cairns, Raglan, Gnanduillet, Humphreys, Dieseruvwe, Harrison, Onovwigun.
Reds: Davies, Roberts, Mawson, Nyatanga, Scowen, Pearson, Hourihane, Crowley, Smith, Wilkinson, Winnall. Subs: Townsend, Watkins, Rothwell, Maris, Williams, Digby, Phenix.
Ref: Andy Woolmer (Northants).
Attendance: 8117 (1,975 from Barnsley).