Oxford 1-1 Chesterfield: Ched Evans nets on debut
Last Updated: 06/08/16 6:55pm
Ched Evans scored on his return to professional football as Chesterfield hit back to draw 1-1 at Oxford.
The 27-year-old netted a 25-yard free kick to mark his Spireites debut and first game in four years.
Wes Thomas' debut goal opened the scoring for the hosts but they could not hang on in their first game in the third tier for 15 years following promotion from Sky Bet League Two last season.
Evans wasted two fine openings in the second half, being denied by Simon Eastwood before blasting wide soon after, but finally netted with 14 minutes left.
His last competitive game was Sheffield United's 3-1 win over Leyton Orient in 2012 and later that year he was jailed for raping a 19-year-old woman but the Court of Appeal quashed his conviction in April.
Evans' retrial is set for October 4. He has pleaded not guilty.
The former Manchester City trainee was targeted by the home supporters who jeered his every touch but the striker rarely saw the ball in a forgettable opening.
Jay O'Shea shot straight at Eastwood while Ryan Taylor wasted a fine chance with just Chesterfield goalkeeper Ryan Fulton to beat.
But debutant Thomas, a summer signing after his release from Birmingham, broke the monotony after 31 minutes with a goal in keeping with a scrappy game.
Alex MacDonald wriggled free on the right and, when his cross-shot was parried by Fulton, Thomas tapped into an empty net from six yards.
Chesterfield's response was muted and Thomas should have made it 2-0 four minutes after the break when he was sent through by McDonald's cheeky lob but hit the outside of the post.
Evans' influence grew and he finally had a sight of goal on 56 minutes but his low effort was turned wide by Eastwood and then blazed into the car park when put through.
But the forward did eventually level after 76 minutes when he drove in from 25-yards after Gboly Ariyibi was brought down to clinch a point.