Chesterfield, Middlesbrough and Tranmere’s pre-season tour of the Netherlands started in earnest last night as they took on Dutch opposition.
Middlesbrough opened up with 1-0 win over FC Twente while Chesterfield and Tranmere were beaten by NEC Nijmegen and Vitesse Arnhem.
In a match played in warm conditions Middlesbrough twice went close to taking the lead in the opening minutes through Junior Mondel but he was unable to convert either chance.
Boro’s 16-year-old stopper Joe Fryatt then produced a wonderful save moments later to keep the home side at bay.
With defences on top and the half-time whistle looming Dael Fry headed in at the far post from a corner as Boro seized an advantage that they never looked likely to relinquish in the second period.
Both Chesterfield and Tranmere followed Middlesbrough’s lead by forging ahead in their fixtures but that was where the similarities ended.
After Oliver Brock’s sumptuous 18-yard volley flew past the NEC keeper in the 40th minute, the home side roared back with goals on 51, 58, 77 and 85 minutes as the game ended 4-1.
It was a similar tale for Tranmere. Ben Jago’s whipped free-kick allowed Evan Gumbs to apply the finishing touch as Rovers took a 20th minute lead but Vitesse were quickly back in their stride scoring twice in 3 minutes to lead at the interval.
Vitesse added their third mid-way through the second-half but despite falling to defeat, Rovers Academy Manager Shaun Garnett was pleased by what he saw from his own team.
“We knew that physically it was going to be a test with their lads being a little older than ours but I think we came out of the game with credit,” said Garnett.
“Both teams had chances to score and on another night we might have had a couple more ourselves but the biggest learning point for our lads was around ball retention.”
“They (Vitesse) had a lot of the ball and we didn’t keep it for long enough after winning it back so that’s an area we’ll be looking to improve in our next two matches over here.”
Another area that Garnett will seek to address with his youngsters is defending set-pieces an issue that is still haunting them from last season.
“All three goals came from set-pieces which isn’t good enough and a problem we had last term. It’s our Achilles heel really and it seems to be a mindset that the players have got into. It’s all well and good to focus on tracking your man but you can’t do that and forget to go and attack the ball when it’s there to be cleared away.”