Town: Jayson Leutwiler, Jermaine Grandison, Mickey Demetriou, James Wesolowski, Mark Ellis, Nathaniel Knight-Percival, James Caton, Connor Goldson, James Collins, Scott Vernon, Ashley Vincent
Subs: Craig Curran, Mark Halstead, Liam Lawrence, Jean-Loius Akpa Akpro, Jordan Clark, Akwasi Asante, Andy Robinson, Dom Smith, Ben Burton, Josh Ginelly, Cameron Gayle
Chesterfield: Luke Williams, Tendayi Darikwa, Sam Morsy, Liam Cooper, Jimmy Ryan, Jay O’Shea, Gary Roberts, Richie Humphreys, Eoin Doyle, Dan Gardner, Ian Evatt
Subs: Daniel Jones, Sam Hird, Charlie Raglan, Armand Gnanduillet
Referee: James Adcock
Assistants: Eddie Smart & Nick Gibbons
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Micky Mellon’s new-look Shrewsbury Town side started their preparations for the new season with a morale-boosting 2-0 home win against last season’s League Two Champions Chesterfield. The season gets under way in just four weeks and a goal in each half from James Collins and Craig Durran made it a decent afternoon’s work for Shrewsbury who controlled the game for long spells and might have won by a greater margin.
Town forced a couple of early corners which were dealt with comfortably enough by the Spireites defence, but much of the football in the opening exchanges was being played by the home side. They had good width right and left and returning hero Collins looked a handful up top.
From a third corner – inside of 10 minutes – Scott Vernon sent a header over the top from James Caton’s flag-kick, and, unmarked, the striker might have been disappointed to miss the target from around the penalty spot.
Dan Gardner sent a 25 yarder fizzing just wide of Jayson Leutwiler’s right hand post and then Caton’s shot at the other end lacked the sufficient power to trouble Luke Williams.
Shrews continued to dominate and skipper Mark Ellis saw his header cleared off the line from yet another corner before James Wesolowski blazed over just before the half hour.
But, despite their superiority, the visitors went close twice within a minute - first from Gary Roberts’ looping header which struck the far post, and then Jay O’Shea saw his low angled drive kept out smartly by Leutwiler who made his first save of the afternoon.
The Town stopper then denied Eoin Doyle somewhat unconventionally when he ventured a long way out of his goal to block Doyle’s path.
After 36 minutes Collins put Salop in front with a text book header back across Williams from an inviting Ashley Vincent cross and the ball nestled in the far corner for a deserved lead. It wasn’t quite as important as the last goal he scored here which secured promotion against Dagenham a couple of years ago, although coincidentally, that was another header and at the same end of the stadium.
Former Town midfielder Jimmy Ryan went close just before half time with a measured effort that flashed just wide of the mark but it was the hosts who took a one goal lead into the break.
Half Time: Town 1 Chesterfield 0
Both sides made a plethora of changes with Town fielding an almost completely new look side for the second 45 with only Connor Goldson remaining on the field from the side which ended the season at Gillingham back in May!
Shrewsbury started brightly again playing the sort of football that Mellon wants as his blueprint for the season ahead, and much of it drew warm applause from the home fans. But Tendayi Darikwa nearly levelled for Chesterfield with a smart curling shot which just feathered the netting on top of the goal in a rare Spireites soiree into Town territory.
Liam Lawrence saw his long range drive deflected behind and from the resulting corner Curran headed into the corner from Andy Robinson’s delivery to double the lead on 56 minutes.
Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro had a chance to make it three only to be denied by the outstretched leg of a Chesterfield defender and Shrews were full value for their lead – which looked a very comfortable one, although Armand Gnanduillet did see a header cleared off the linewith 25 minutes left.
Robinson struck the base of the post when Akwasi Asante pulled the ball back for him and there was pace and power aplenty from the home side who were clearly enjoying themselves on the lush Meadow pitch.
The substitutions continued and each time a Town player came to the touchline for a well earned rest, the ovations were richly deserved. Curran nearly had a second with a terrific diving header from a Robinson cross which just cleared the crossbar, and in many ways it was just like watching Brazil – the 70’s version not the 2014 one.
Robinson almost put the gloss on right at the end with a great shot which beat the keeper all ends up landing narrowly wide, and that was the last of the action on a thoroughly entertaining afternoon in front of 1,305 supporters.
Full Time: Town 2 Chesterfield 0