Chesterfield 1, Tranmere Rovers 0
Jordan Bowery hit a second-half winner to boost Chesterfield hopes in their battle against relegation.
For Tranmere, the defeat led to the sacking of manager Les Parry as Rovers miserable run extended to 11 games without a win.
It was a nervy and frustrating match of few clear cut chances but the Chesterfield No 21 broke the deadlock and sealed the result with 15 minutes remaining.
He collected a pass from Danny Whitaker on the edge of the area and found sufficient time and space to fire off a low left foot shot which beat Tranmere keeper Owain fon Williams.
It was the striker’s eighth goal of the season and earned him praise from his delighted manager.
John Sheridan said: “Jordan was excellent. He played like a proper centre forward and did what I asked of him. He was a threat and scored a good goal.’’
The defeat deepened Tranmere’s relegation worries - their last win coming in December - and Parry paid the ultimate price.
Neither side was able to get a grip in a tense and gritty first half but the best chance came Chesterfield’s way in the 38th minute.
A long ball was being marshalled back to keeper fon Williams by Ian Goodison and Ash Taylor when all three decided to leave the task to each other.
In nipped poacher-in-chief Jack Lester and picked their pockets.
He took the ball wide of the keeper and, like his goal in the victory at Oldham in the JP Trophy northern final second leg, look set to fire into an empty net but Goodison made up ground and cleared the effort for a corner.
As the second half progressed, there was a moment of controversy in the 70th minute when Sheridan replaced the lively Nicky Ajose with Alex Mendy. A section of supporters thought it was the wrong decision and chanted ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ at the Chesterfield manager.
The Blues chief said afterwards: “I did not take Nicky off because he was the worst player. I put Alex on because I wanted him to get at their full back. Some fans wanted Whitaker taken off but he set up the winning goal.’’
Sheridan could also have added that Whitaker made a crucial challenge in time added on to deny a Tranmere forward a shot and preserve a clean sheet.
Skipper Neal Trotman demonstrated his bravery towards the end with a courageous diving header as Rovers closed in on goal.
Chesterfield: Lee, Trotman, Thompson, Ridehalgh, Talbot, Allott, Whitaker, Ajose (Mendy 70), Davis, Lester (Westcarr 90), Bowery. Subs not used: Fleming, Smith, Niven.
Tranmere Rovers: fon Williams, Goodison, Taylor, Holmes, Buchanan, Welsh, McGurk (Bakayogo 77), Devaney (Weir 46), Wallace, Robinson, Brunt (Showunmi 59). Subs not used: Coughlin, McChrystal.
Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northants).
Attendance: 5,861 (511 from Tranmere)