Football finally returned to the HE Barnes Stadium as Dronfield Town welcomed local visitors Clay Cross Town for a behind closed doors pre-season friendly. Dronfield fielded virtually different elevens in each half with a squad of twenty whereas their visitors from the Central Midlands League gave a run out to a squad of sixteen. The visitors secured the win with a goal in each half as both teams began to build towards a potential restart on 5th September.
Cross were the first to show their hand – their number 17 seeing his right wing cross put wide by the number 8 with the goal at his mercy.
Mike Fereday’s comeback game for Dronfield lasted just fifteen minutes as he left the field as a precautionary measure, making way for Jamie Willis.
Willis came up with Dronfield’s first real effort of the game, putting his shot just wide of the left hand post after good work between Bebbington and Savage.
However, just two minutes later, it was Clay Cross who took the lead with a stunning piece of opportunism. Lewis Naylor was left stranded after making a clearance down in the corner as Montelle Kamara shot from just inside his own half putting Cross one nil up.
Matty Ord fed Sam Bebbington on 33 minutes but the defender-come-striker saw his shot go straight at the Clay Cross custodian.
Dronfield made eight changes for the second half and began with more purpose; Mark Fereday putting his shot wide with the outside of his boot on 54 minutes.
Four minutes later, the bustling striker saw his right wing cross met by Callum Mawbey, whose side-footed effort was blocked by a Clay Cross defender.
Clay Cross doubled their advantage on 78 minutes. A right wing cross from the visitors number 10 was finished by Lewis Macaskill despite Dronfield keeper Lewis Naylor getting a hand to the ball.
Dronfield had time for one final chance. A long ball out of defence found Mark Fereday but he was unable to lift his shot over the on-rushing Clay Cross keeper.
So an opening friendly defeat for Dronfield albeit fielding two vastly different teams in each half. Clay Cross Town looked sharp so early in their pre-season campaign and already look a good bet to challenge the upper echelons of the Central Midlands League. However, the return of football was possibly more important as the build towards a 5th September start, hopefully in front of spectators, draws ever nearer.
Dronfield Town 1st Half: Naylor, Wright, Gladwin, Rawson, Hill, Bovill, Ord, Flower, Bebbington, Savage, Mike Fereday.
2nd Half: Naylor, Fairweather, Stewart, Hill, U21 Triallist, Wilson, Willis, Sezerano, Mark Fereday, Mawbey, Rupere.
Clay Cross Town: Hopkins, Topham, Fox, Suter, Ward, Copestake, Barnard, Wood, Kamara, Scully, Hendley, Lytham, Macaskill, Brooks, Parfit, Kirk.