Chesterfield were quick out of the blocks as they overcame Bristol Rovers at the Proact Stadium to move three points clear at the top of League Two.
Sam Morsy had gone 21 games without scoring for the Spireites, but he only had to wait four minutes in to his 22nd to open his account for the club.
He slotted in from inside the penalty area after Gary Roberts had found Eoin Doyle, whose cut back was begging to be hit past Rovers keeper Steve Mildenhall.
The midfielder’s first goal in a blue shirt since his summer move from Port Vale gave the hosts a platform to build on and dispelled any worries of how to break down the stubborn defence, which had held Chesterfield to a goalless draw in the reverse fixture in October.
It was also a sweet return for the 22-year-old, who spent two months on the treatment table after he suffered a knee injury during that game, and he would prove to be the driving force behind the Spireites’ attacking quartet which produced for the third time in the space of a week.
The visitors gave them a scare when Lee Brown curled in a spectacular effort in to the top corner of the net past the despairing outstretched arm of Tommy Lee from the edge of the area. It was a fine strike from the 23-year-old, who gave the Chesterfield keeper no chance.
It came after a neat move from Rovers, who were comfortable in possession with the ball at their feet throughout the game, and a warning to Chesterfield that they were very much in a game against a side scrambling around for points to take them away from the drop zone.
The Spireites were desperate to respond before the break and it came after another piece of improvisation from Roberts, as he shimmied past Michael Smith, advanced to the byline and pulled the back to Ollie Banks to side foot home from inside the six yard box.
Rovers shot themselves in the foot shortly after the re-start when Roberts pounced on a defensive mistake and played in Doyle, who slotted past Mildenhall to end the game as a contest as Chesterfield saw out a third consecutive victory in blustery conditions.
Following the game, Spireites assistant manager Leam Richardson said: “I think the credit must go to the players. I think they’ve applied themselves well over the last couple of weeks. They’ve got good momentum, a good dressing room at the moment and long may that continue.
“The conditions have been blustery but they’ve still been brave and applied themselves correctly and worked hard. It’s hard to play out there but they’ve responded to a couple of bad results at Southend and Rochdale, but that’s what they get paid for. They get paid to dust themselves down and go again.”
Richardson reserved special praise for Roberts, who had a hand in all three of the goals, to add to his ever-increasing number of assists this campaign.
“And he’ll let you know that as well,” said Richardson. “He’s in a great vein of form. If you can get Gary Roberts in a good place, which he is at the minute, that’s why he was brought to the club. That’s why the manager tracked him and worked tirelessly hard with the chairman and Chris to get him here.”
The games are coming thick and fast for the Spireites, who have six games in little over three weeks this month, which begins on Tuesday with the trip to Fleetwood Town in the first leg of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy northern area final.
And Richardson said the prospect of a Wembley final would be just reward for the supporters - nearly 6,000 of whom ventured out on Saturday.
“We’ve won today and it’s been a good team performance,” added Richardson. “We’ll go there Tuesday and it would be great for the fans to get to Wembley because they deserve a lot of credit. The climate and the weather over Christmas time, they’ve supported the club really well. Hopefully we’ll give them something to smile about.”
Chesterfield (4-2-3-1): Lee 7; Darikwa 7, Evatt (c) 7, Cooper 7, Humphreys 7; Ryan 7, Morsy 8; Gardner 7 (O’Shea 80), Banks 7 (Richards 71), Roberts 8; Doyle 7 (Gnanduillet 71). Subs not used: Dunbavin; Hird, Talbot, Smith.
Bristol Rovers (4-5-1): Mildenhall 5; Smith 6, Parkes (c) 6, McChrystal 5, Brown 6; Clarke 6, Lockyer 6, O’Toole 5, Beardsley 6, Mohamed 5 (Harrison 50, 6); Harrold 7 (Clarkson 75). Subs not used: Norburn, Harding, Gough, Santos, Keary.
Goals: Morsy 4, Banks 44, Doyle 47; Brown 36.
Referee: Geoff Eltringham (County Durham)
Attendance: 6,048 (236).