Spireites Claim Opening Day Victory Against Barnsley.
Chesterfield came from behind to claim an opening day victory against Barnsley at the Proact Stadium, with individual second-half strikes from Jay O’Shea, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and club captain Sam Morsy earning all three points for the Spireites. Conor Wilkinson got on the scoresheet for the visitors in the first period, but obviously this wasn’t enough to prevent Dean Saunders masterminding a win in his first competitive game in charge as manager.
With only four minutes on the clock, Barnsley took the lead through Wilkinson’s forceful finish past Tommy Lee from around 12 yards after a breakdown in communication occurred between Ian Evatt and Sam Hird to make the chance possible. In reply, O’Shea tried his luck from distance and watched his effort cannon against the leg of an opposing defender and bounce out of play for a corner-kick.
Sam Winnall then squandered a fantastic opportunity for the Tykes, as the striker directed the ball straight into the palms of Lee from close range in a one-on-one situation. Showing immense pace and agility, Gboly Ariyibi took matters into his own hands with a lone run that culminated in a low effort that was saved well by Adam Davies.
Looking for his second goal of the afternoon, Wilkinson broke free of the Spireites’ defence and fired towards goal only to be denied by a pivotal Morsy block near the penalty spot. Once again, Wilkinson found himself in acres of space and with a free run towards goal although on this occasion the off-side flag was in a raised position.
Just before the half-time whistle, Ebanks-Blake went close to netting an equalising goal with an effort from close range that just evaded the crossbar by a matter of inches.
Only four minutes of the second period had been played before the Spireites levelled the scoreline courtesy of O’Shea’s stunning finish from around 12 yards that beat Davies all-ends-up as it nestled into the top right-hand corner of the net. Another goalscoring opportunity fell to Ebanks-Blake, after Ariyibi’s low cross found the striker on the six-yard line but somehow the ball was directed straight into the stands.
On 72 minutes, Ebanks-Blake completed the comeback and opened his account for the season with a simple finish on-the-turn past a flailing Davies from around eight yards. One minute later, Morsy doubled the advantage and grabbed his side’s third goal of the afternoon with a curled finish from outside the area that struck the post before nestling straight into the back of the net.
Following Chesterfield’s third goal, a lull in proceedings followed with a slight resignation of defeat emanating from the visitors’ general build-up play. For the full four minutes of additional time, the Spireites retained possession and eased their way towards three points on the opening day of the season.