Derek Adams’ side suffered two early goals courtesy of Rowe and Stefan Payne as their five game unbeaten streak came to an end, despite a second half Paudie O’Connor fight back.
Bradford City: O’Donnell; Cousin-Dawson, Sikora, Kelleher, Foulds, Staunton, Evans, Eisa, Scales, Crankshaw, Cook.
Chesterfield: Loach; Gunning, Grimes, Maguire, King, Miller, Oyeleke, Khan, Clarke, Rowe, Payne.
Story of the match
It’s every football fans worst nightmare to see a former player return and score a goal against your club - and for Bradford fans, they only had to wait two minutes.
Former Bantam Rowe pounced on a lovely move involving Saidou Khan, Calvin Miller and Jack Clarke to give the Spireites the lead within the opening two minutes.
And less than four minutes later, Chesterfield doubled their advantage, this time through another man familiar with Bradford, Rowe’s strike partner Payne. Payne made headlines last season after his scuffle with Filipe Morais which resulted in his departure from Grimsby Town, and a red card for the forward too. Payne was back for revenge however, as Clarke picked up a second assist when threading the ball through to the 29-year-old, who calmly slotted past the outstretched Richard O’Donnell.
A miserable start for Bradford persisted however, as Miller worked some space before lifting a ball towards the back post, but Khan could only head over the bar.
The Bantams did hint at a first half fight back however, as half an hour in Andy Cook laid the ball into the path of Ollie Crankshaw, but the former Wigan Athletic man couldn’t evade the post as his effort rattled the woodwork.
As the game approached half-time, Chesterfield had one final opportunity to punish some sloppy Bradford defending, but O’Donnell was on hand to prevent Miller’s deflected cross from sneaking past the shot-stopper.
With both sides making numerous changes at the interval, it looked set to be a different game in the second 45, and it certainly proved to be. Bradford immediately capitalised on a corner, as Callum Cooke lashed a ball onto the head of Paudie O’Connor, and the Irishman was able to convert his header past a helpless Scott Loach.
The Bantams came within inches of completing the comeback 77 minutes in, as Levi Sutton floated a ball onto the head of Charles Vernam, but his header could only rattle the bar before Lee Angol fluffed his rebound effort wide.
However, as the game drew to a close and the trialist Chesterfield defender made a goal-saving challenge, it was clearly it wasn’t to be Bradford’s day, as Adams side suffered their first defeat of pre-season.
They say you shouldn’t look too deeply into pre-season, and this is certainly the case for Bradford.
Their first defeat in five after defeating the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Doncaster Rovers, it’s best for Adams’ side to taste defeat before the season starts and any morale is depleted. Their final test comes on Saturday against Accrington Stanley, which should be an interesting match between two fairly even sides.
From a Chesterfield perspective, this is an excellent result, overcoming a Bradford side who have promotion ambitions from the division above. It’s also good that James Rowe’s men could defend a lead for the entirety of the match, as it shows defensive resilience and a level of trust in the strikers to do their job, as long as the defenders can do theirs.
You can’t look any further than former Aston Villa youngster Clarke, who dominated the midfield and controlled the tempo of play, whilst also picking up two assists. He should be a key player in the Spireites’ season.