Lee Johnson takes his Barnsley side down the M1 this weekend as the Reds target a winning start to the 2015-16 campaign at Chesterfield.
The Spireites go into the game under new management following the appointment of former Liverpool and Bradford City striker Dean Saunders as their new manager in May.
That came after previous boss Paul Cook departed the Proact Stadium for Portsmouth despite guiding the Derbyshire Club to the League One play-offs last season; in what was the Spireites first campaign back in the third tier following their promotion from League Two in 2014.
With Cook moving on, several players also opted for new challenges with Gary Roberts teaming up with his old boss at Fratton Park, while full-back Tendayi Darikwa jumped up a division to the recently relegated Burnley and last season’s star man Sam Clucas agreed a big money switch to Hull City.
Despite that, several new faces have arrived at the Proact Stadium including forward Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and with five wins from their six pre-season outings, last year’s play-off semi-finalists appear in good shape heading into the opening day of the campaign.
The Reds will be eager to put a spanner in the works however, as boss Johnson embarks on his first full season in charge at Oakwell.
Only seven points separated the Reds and the final play-off spot last season and following a busy summer which has seen the likes of Alfie Mawson, Marley Watkins and Daniel Crowley arrive at the Club, a Barnsley squad packed with talent will be keen to continue where they left off at the end of last season when they swept Rochdale aside 5-0 at Oakwell.
Barnsley will be searching for their first victory in over 10 years against Chesterfield when the Reds and the Spireites meet for the 84th time on Saturday.
Despite regular meetings over the last century, the clashes between the two Clubs last season were the first in eight years.
A second-half strike from Sam Winnall in April ensured the Reds avoided double agony against their Derbyshire counterparts; following Chesterfield’s 2-1 triumph at the Proact Stadium in November.
That victory was the Spireites' 34th in this fixture and with the Reds trailing that record by seven they will be eager to earn their first win in this clash since September 2004.
On that occasion a late goal from Anthony Kay earned all three points for the Reds at Oakwell and with four draws and a Chesterfield win since that, Lee Johnson’s men will welcome a repeat performance from that narrow 1-0 success on Saturday.
Reds’ boss Lee Johnson could hand debuts to a whole host of faces as the Reds prepare to take on Chesterfield this weekend.
Centre-halves Marc Roberts and Alfie Mawson could partner Lewin Nyatanga in a five-man defence, while in midfield new signings Ben Pearson, Joe Rothwell and Daniel Crowley will be desperate to be involved from the off at the Proact Stadium.
Only Ryan Williams has been confirmed as a definite absentee for around two weeks.
One other man who will be eager to be included in Johnson’s first starting XI of the campaign however, is Conor Hourihane, who played 45 minutes for the reserves on Monday as he steps up his recovery from a knee injury.
With plenty of options in the midfield department, Johnson may opt to introduce the Irishman from the bench and with 17-year-old Arsenal loanee Crowley impressing against Huddersfield last weekend, he could be handed a starting berth in Derbyshire.
Another player who looks certain to start is Sam Winnall, but Johnson will have to decide whether to partner the Barnsley no.9 - who will be looking to put his injury woes behind him this season – with either Conor Wilkinson or Marley Watkins.
For Chesterfield, Barnsley-born utility man Drew Talbot looks set to fill the vacancy left by Tendayi Darikwa at right-back, following the 23 year-old’s switch to Burnley this summer.
Former Luton defender Talbot could be partnered down the right hand side with United States winger Gboly Ariyibi, while in attack former Premier League frontman Sylvan Ebanks-Blake will lead the line for the Spireites as he looks to get the goals for another play-off push this season.
Man in the Middle
Andy Woolmer will take charge of a Barnsley game for the first time in nearly three years this weekend. Woolmer oversaw the Club’s 1-1 draw at home to Blackpool in September 2012, which was the referee’s fifth match in charge of the Reds.
On the other four occasions in his company, Barnsley enjoyed mixed fortunes, losing against Wolves and Plymouth but securing wins at Luton as well as at home to Derby County in January 2012. One man who does have some bad blood with Woolmer however, is Reds defender Lewin Nyatanga, after the centre-half was dismissed just four minutes into the Club’s 3-0 defeat at Plymouth back in 2008.
While Woolmer – who will be assisted by linesmen David Storrie and Simeon Lucas as well as fourth official Craig Taylor at the Proact Stadium – is set to take charge of his sixth Barnsley game, the clash will be his fifth involving Chesterfield, the most recent of which came last season.
The Northamptonshire-based official dished out six yellow cards as the Spireites earned a home draw with Notts County. That game was one of 35 taken charge of by Woolmer last season and despite that, remarkably only one red card was brandished by the official, with experienced Birmingham defender Paul Robinson the unlucky recipient.
Their Star Man
With the goals of both Eoin Doyle and Sam Clucas now a distant memory following their transfers to Cardiff City and Hull City respectively, boss Dean Saunders made a new front man his main priority in this summer’s transfer market.
One man stood out however, and in June former Manchester United striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake agreed a two-year deal to join the Spireites. Twice named as the Championship’s top goalscorer during his time with Wolves, Ebanks-Blake – whose great upper body strength will make him a pivotal part of the Chesterfield attack this season - was released by Preston North End in May and despite netting just once for the Lancashire outfit last season Saunders acted quickly to snap up the ex-England U21 international’s services.
After netting 50 goals in two Championship campaigns for both Plymouth and Wolves between 2007 and 2009, the stocky forward spent three seasons in the Premier League and bagged a last-gasp winner against Sunderland in an entertaining 3-2 win for Wolves back in 2010. After five-and-a-half years at Molineux, the 29-year-old joined Ipswich in January 2014 where he was reunited with former Wolves boss Mick McCarthy.
Despite their good relationship, Ebanks-Blake failed to score in 10 appearances and was released at the end of the campaign. Following a number of trials at Football League Clubs, the former Antwerp loanee signed on at Deepdale in December and despite not scoring since January, both Saunders and the Chesterfield faithful will be hopeful that their new front man settles quickly and makes the Proact Stadium his home, just as he did with Molineux when he fired Wolves to the Premier League six years ago.
Jamal Campbell-Ryce is a player who needs no introduction to the Barnsley fans following nearly 100 appearances for the Club between 2007 and 2010. The winger’s time at Chesterfield was not as lengthy however; with the former Jamaica international joining the Spireites on loan from Charlton in August 2004 at the age of 21.
The former Barnsley man made 16 appearances in a Chesterfield shirt; scoring just once in a 2-1 Football League Trophy defeat at Macclesfield. Prior to that game Campbell-Ryce played the full 90 minutes but failed to inspire his team mates as the Spireites lost 1-0 at Oakwell. That loan spell was one of several away from Charlton but following his time at the Proact Stadium, the pacey wide man agreed to join Rotherham on a permanent deal.
Further spells at Southend and Colchester came the Sheffield United man’s way but in August 2007 he agreed a switch to Barnsley. After making his debut in a 2-0 home win against Scunthorpe, Campbell-Ryce became a regular in his first season for the Club and scored four times including strikes against two of his former Clubs, Southend and Charlton.
Nine more goals came the attacker’s way in the 2008-09 campaign including two against Sheffield Wednesday in what was an extremely productive season but 17 goalless appearances into the 2009-10 season and the former Red joined Bristol City.
Two-and-a-half years at Ashton Gate were followed up by spells with Leyton Orient, Notts County and Sheffield United, with the winger ending last season back on loan at Notts County, where he featured four times.
Chesterfield’s pre-season results:
Matlock Town 0-3 Chesterfield
Buxton 0-4 Chesterfield
Chesterfield 1-3 Hull City
Chesterfield 3-2 Burnley
Ilkeston 1-3 Chesterfield
Hartlepool 0-1 Chesterfield
Barnsley’s pre-season results:
Stalybridge Celtic 0-1 Barnsley
Guiseley 0-0 Barnsley
Barnsley 4-3 Mansfield (Testimonial)
Kilmarnock 0-1 Barnsley
Barnsley 0-4 Middlesbrough
Barnsley 2-1 Huddersfield
Going to the Match?
Chesterfield play at the Proact Stadium, its full address is as follows:
Chesterfield Football Club
The Proact Stadium
1866 Sheffield Road
(Older Sat Navs can use S41 8LF)
How to get there
From The North West & East:
From the M1 motorway, leave the motorway at junction 30 at Balborough signposted Chesterfield. At the roundabout take the first exit and in around a quarter of a mile there’s another roundabout. Take the 4th exit signpost Staveley/ Chesterfield A619 and drive past McDonalds on your left and cross over the motorway. Follow the A619 through Mastin Moor and towards Staveley.
In Staveley there's the Speedwell Arms on your right if you fancy a pint (Townes Brewery Brew Pub). At the roundabout take the first exit there's one mini roundabout most people drive straight over it follow the A619 through Staveley towards Brimington.
In Brimington follow the A619 round the large island keep in the left-hand lane and follow signs to Chesterfield. At the bottom of Brimington Hill drive straight towards Sainsburys.
At the Sainsbury's roundabout keep in the left-hand lane and follow the A619 towards Tesco's. At the Tesco's roundabout take the 3rd exit straight over past the new Hotel Casa and towards Tesco's and Gordon Lamb garage on the left. Donkey Derby on the right. At the next roundabout take the 3rd exit and drive along the B6057 Sheffield Road. You should be able to see the ground on your left just past Tesco's entrance.
Follow the A61 towards Chesterfield at the large roundabout take the right hand lane and take the 4th exit the B6057 follow the road continue past the Derby Tup for around 0.5 of a mile. The Proact Stadium is on your left.
From The South & East:
From the M1. Leave the motorway at Junction 29, at the roundabout take the second exit A617 which is dual carriageway for 7 miles or so. At the end of the A617 get in the right hand lane and at the roundabout take the 4th exit the A61 north dual carriageway. At the next roundabout take the first exit at the Tesco's roundabout. Gordon Lamb garage on the left. Donkey Derby on the right. At the next roundabout take the 3rd exit and drive along the B6057 Sheffield Road. You should be able to see the ground on your left just past Tesco's entrance.
From the A61:
Follow the A61 Derby Road towards the town centre. Pass the cinema complex and at the roundabout take the third exit to A61 dual carriageway. At the next roundabout take the first exit at the Tesco's roundabout. Gordon Lamb garage on the left. Donkey Derby on the right. At the next roundabout take the 3rd exit and drive along the B6057 Sheffield Road. You should be able to see the ground on your left just past Tesco's entrance.
From The South West:
Follow the A619 into Chesterfield on Chatsworth Road continue on the A619.
At the Morrison's roundabout take the second exit straight over. (You could take the first exit and visit the Brampton Brewery Tap Rose & Crown). The road splits so keep left past the Prince Of Wales and follow the road passed numerous pubs and shops. The road splits again continue past the Royal Oak. Get into the middle lane left, at the roundabout take the second exit by the KFC onto Rutland Road. At the top of Rutland Road Saltergate our old home, turn right then immediately left on St Margarets Drive. At the end of St Margarets Drive turn right on to Cross Street then next left onto Queen Street. The Chesterfield Arms local Camra pub of the year 2010 is at the bottom of Queen Street. At the Chesterfield Arms junction turn right on to Newbold Road. Follow Newbold Road towards the town centre but keep in the left hand lane at the mini roundabout and turn left on to the B6057 Sheffield Road for just over a mile. At the next roundabout get into the middle lane and take the second exit the Donkey Derby is on the right of the Proact Stadium is a few hundred yards just past the Tesco's main entrance.
There is a regular train service to Chesterfield and taxis available at the train station. For pedestrians and cyclists from the Railway Station follow the 'Stonegravels Way' footpath and cycle route that leads past the Chesterfield Hotel and up Brewery Street over the dual carriage way. Turn right down the steps and proceed along Infirmary Road past Chesterfield College and straight ahead along Canal Wharf. Where this joins Hazlehurst Lane bear right onto a new footpath which runs alongside the dual carriageway. Proceed until the footpath runs along the boundary of the Casa Hotel to immerge at Lockoford Lane where there will be the first sighting of the Proact Stadium.
The Stonegravels Way is a bicycle route and footpath that leads from the town centre to the north of Chesterfield, currently finishing at the Proact Stadium on Sheffield Road, Whittington Moor. It follows a mixture of quiet roads and off-road paths and is an ideal route for supporters travelling by train who wish to walk to the stadium.
The 1,976 ticket allocation for the away fans at Chesterfield has SOLD OUT. No further away tickets will be made available.