A JAY O’Shea inspired Chesterfield shrugged off in-form Northampton Town to move within a point of the play-offs in League Two.
The Irishman set the Spireites on their way to an impressive win - their first in four attempts - with a well-taken goal that ignited the host’s attacking flame.
Marc Richards scored moments later before the striker grabbed his second of the game and Chesterfield’s third in eight first half minutes.
With the recent comings and goings, manager Paul Cook made three changes to the Spireites starting line up which lost away to Wycombe.
Transfer-listed Neal Trotman was brought into the back four for the injured Drew Talbot, and Craig Clay and Danny Whitaker came in for Mark Randall and Luis Boa Morte, who left the club this week.
Northampton had won their last three and kept an unchanged side from that which put three past Fleetwood last Saturday.
In a scrappy start to the game, Adebayo Akinfenwa gave the Chesterfield defence a taste of what they’d be in for after the physical forward conceded three fouls in the opening six minutes.
Richards had the host’s first sight of goal but his curling effort hit the heel of an opposing defender and went wide of Lee Nicholls’ goal. Referee Mr Atwell though decided against giving a corner and instead gifted the visitors a goal kick, much to the amazement of players and supporters.
The striker then tested Nicholls with a powerfully struck free-kick from 30 yards that the keeper did well to hold on to as the Spireites went in search of the first goal.
And - for the second game running - it was O’Shea who opened the scoring for Cook’s men after he was picked out by Whitaker’s pull back.
The forward showed neat footwork to deceive his marker and fire the ball high into the roof of the net on 17 minutes.
There was a sense of urgency about Chesterfield and they doubled their lead two minutes later through Richards’ well placed right foot effort after some hesitancy in the Northampton defence.
The 5,477 inside the Proact Stadium hardly had time to catch their breath before Tendayi Darikwa’s long ball over the top released Richards had the pace to get away from Clarke Carlisle and Kelvin Langmead and slotted the ball past Nicholls for his second of the game to leave the Cobblers shell-shocked.
Tommy Lee was called into action to make a smart save from Akinfenwa’s close range effort after Ben Tozer’s long throw had caused confusion in the Spireites back line, as the visitors looked to get a foothold in the game which was quickly running away from them.
Their relief was short-lived, however, and a good interchange between Clay and O’Shea gave the midfielder the chance to make it four but his shot was straight at Nicholls in the Northampton goal.
O’Shea caused more problems for the visitors and shot over after a quick one-two with Richards as a whirlwind first half drew to a close.
Akinfenwa had a shot blocked by Sam Hird early in the second half as Northampton tried to reduce the deficit.
But Chesterfield were soon on the attack again and a fast counter-attack involving Whitaker and Darikwa presented an opportunity for Richards to claim his hat-trick that the striker squandered.
Good pressure from Clay led to the ball breaking for Chesterfield’s no.9 whose right foot effort took a deflection on its way through to the Northampton keeper.
A flowing move from left to right stretched the visitors but Sam Togwell, who had made a timely burst from midfield, had his shot blocked.
Clive Platt dragged a left foot shot well wide of Lee’s left hand post after being sent through one-on-one before Chris Hackett smacked the outside of the left hand post with a fierce drive.
Lee had to be on his toes to get down and push Ben Harding’s curling left foot free-kick away from danger before Sam Hird slid in to clear Langmead’s goal-bound effort off the line.
Whitaker missed a golden opportunity to make it four 10 minutes from time but he lifted his shot over the bar from inside the penalty area.
Meanwhile Hackett fired over in a rare lapse in concentration in the Chesterfield back line which stood up to the physical presence of Platt and Akinfenwa.
The impressive Trotman almost grabbed a goal his performance deserved late on but his effort from an in-swinging corner was touched around the post.
The Spireites showed they were capable of going toe-to-toe with Northampton, but ultimately let their football do the talking.
Spireites (4-2-3-1): Lee; Hird, Cooper, Trotman, Smith; Togwell, Clay (Randall 75); Darikwa, Whitaker, O’Shea (Wafula 90); Richards (Lester 84)
Subs not used: O’Donnell, Boden, Broadhead, Whittaker
Cobblers: (4-4-2): Nicholls; Widdowson, Langmead (c), Carlisle, Tozer; Guttridge, Harding (Demontagnac 81), Hackett, Robinson; Platt, Akinfenwa (Hornby 73).
Subs not used: Snedker, Wilson, Moult, Dias, Turnbull
Referee: Stuart Atwell