Chesterfield were made to pay for missing a raft of chances as they began 2013 with defeat away to Paul Cook’s former club Accrington Stanley.
Romuald Boco’s second half strike separated the two sides in a game that saw the Spireites rack up more than 23 efforts on goal.
The visitors hit the woodwork twice before the break and had a late Sam Hird header chalked off for a questionable offside in Accrington’s first win in 10.
The current Spireites chief was given a frosty reception on his return to The Crown Ground where his team came up against an inspired Cameron Bedford in the Accrington keeper’s home debut.
Cook made four changes to the starting line-up that drew at home with Morecambe on Boxing Day.
Luis Boa Morte, Mark Randall, Marc Richards and Jack Lester all returned to first team duties in place of Brennan Dickenson, Danny Whitaker, Jay O’Shea and the suspended Conor Townsend.
On a bitter New Year’s Day deep in Lancashire, Boco almost caught the visitors cold when he latched on to a long throw. But the striker, who already has eight for the season, volley was comfortably held by Tommy Lee.
Liam Cooper then had to clear Padraig Amond’s thundering header off the line when he rose unmarked in the penalty area to meet Luke Joyce’s corner.
A smart turn by Jack Lester gave the striker a shooting chance but the striker dragged his shot wide of Belford’s right hand post.
A speculative effort from Richards almost caught the keeper out but his looping shot from a difficult angle clipped the top of the bar.
Chesterfield hit the woodwork again moments later when Randall tried his luck from fully 40 yards but his lob didn’t dip in time to catch the Accrington stopper out.
Craig Lindfield continued his side’s shoot on sight policy, which had drawn five efforts in the first 10 minutes, but his powerful drive from 30 yards was wide of the mark.
Lester had the ball in the back of the net midway through the first half but his goal was ruled out for offside.
Lee had to be on his toes to scoop up Lindfield’s left foot volley from 10 yards before the Spireites really should have gone ahead.
A neat interchange between Sam Togwell and Lester saw the midfielder one on one with Belford. The keeper had to be quick off his line and bravely dived at the feet of Togwell to prevent him from getting a shot away.
The move wasn’t over, however, and Nathan Smith’s clip back into the danger area was met by Lester, whose diving header from nine yards out went fractionally wide of the left post.
The striker will be disappointed not to have tested Belford, who was by far the busier of the two keepers throughout the afternoon.
George Miller’s miscued shot from 10 yards had Lee scrambling and the Chesterfield keeper was grateful when the ball bounced the other side of his left post as the half drew to a close.
Sam Hird recovered well to prevent Amond from shooting 18 yards out with a well timed slide tackle and Drew Talbot threw himself in front of Boco’s thunderbolt shortly after the interval.
A loose ball by former Sheffield United striker James Beattie presented Tendayi Darikwa with the ball midway through the host’s half. The tricky winger then shifted the ball left to Boa Morte who unleashed a shot which was closed down before Lester forced a save from Belford from inside the penalty area with another smart turn and shot.
Boa Morte’s cross-come-shot flashed across the six yard box before a free flowing move from the visitors saw Randall release Darikwa.
The pacey wide man hit the byline, sold Lee Molyneux a dummy and cut the ball back but neither Lester or Boa Morte could get a decent connection to push the ball over the line.
Randall then had an opportunity to break the deadlock minutes later after Darikwa was hauled down 25 yards out. The midfielder stepped up and curled a dipping free kick over the wall but the ball sailed well over.
Then, on 65 minutes, Accrington landed the ultimate sucker punch.
A precise through ball released Boco who ran through and slotted the ball past Lee’s despairing dive and into the bottom right corner of the net.
A double switch by Chesterfield almost paid off immediately when substitutes Whitaker and O’Shea combined but the Irishman’s effort was easily saved by Belford.
Richards then brought the best out of the home keeper with a 25-yard free kick that looked destined for the top corner before Belford acrobatically tipped the ball over.
Darikwa and O’Shea carved Accrington open but Belford was again on hand to block the winger’s effort from close range.
It was then Randall’s turn to try and slay the invincible Belford with a stinging drive from 30 yards.
Chesterfield were pouring forward and they were almost caught on the break when Beattie sliced wide from inside the penalty area.
The travelling support then thought their team had got the goal their performance warranted but Hird’s back post header was ruled offside by the linesman.
The Spireites are now four points from seventh-placed Bradford in League Two ahead of Saturday’s trip to Wycombe Wanderers, who lost 1-0 at home to Exeter today.
Spireites (4-2-3-1): Lee; Talbot, Cooper, Hird (c), Smith; Darikwa, Togwell, Randall (Dickenson 83), Boa Morte (Whitaker 75); Lester (O’Shea 75), Richards
Subs not used: O’Donnell, Clay, Boden, Trotman
Accrington (4-4-2): Belford; Hunt, Winnard, Murphy, Molyneux; Lindfield (Liddle 90+1), Miller, Joyce, Boco (Hatfield 90+2); Beattie, Amond (Carver 84)
Subs not used: Dawber, Barnett, Hatfield, Dixon, Mingoia
Referee: Eddie Ilderton
Bookings: Boa Morte 41; Hunt 43, Murphy 57, Belford 75
Attendance: 1,586 (551)