Rochdale 3 Chesterfield 2 (after extra-time)
For the fifth season on the run, Chesterfield were knocked out of the Carling Cup at the first hurdle.
However, the performance - offensively in particular - was much improved from that witnessed at Tranmere a few days earlier.
Danny Whitaker twice put John Sheridan’s side in front but Dale’s Ashley Grimes equalised the first and scored an extra-time winner after a Dwayne Mattis own-goal had cancelled out the effects of Chesterfield’s goals.
The manager made four changes from the Prenton Park game.
Simon Ford picked up a minor knock and Mark Randall a training injury, though the latter was on the bench.
Jack Lester and Jordan Bowery were also subs as Dean Holden, Scott Boden, Derek Niven and, for the first time since February 2010, Aaron Downes came in.
Positionally, Drew Talbot moved from right back to right wing and from the start the Spireites showed a lot more going forward.
With ten minutes played, Boden held the ball up well, returning it to Whitaker who stroked the ball inch-perfectly home from the box edge.
The home side started to find their feet and levelled after 19 minutes when Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro burst into the box and passed perfectly for Grimes to slide the ball home.
The rest of the first-half spawned plenty of half chances for both sides but the game stepped up a level after the break.
Jason Kennedy had an effort blocked by Nathan Smith, Akpa Akpro twice shot wide from goal scoring positions and Neal Trotman made a superb tackle to deny Dean Morgan.
Morgan then hammered a 40-yard free kick that took David Lucas by surprise.
The keeper mishandled and palmed the ball onto the bar, Talbot reacted quickest but, from a yard out, somehow saw Lucas recover to block what looked a banker.
Downes high fived Lee who made a terrific diving save to keep out Grimes after an error by the defender and subs Jack Lester and Jordan Bowery both saw Lucas save what looked like goalbound efforts.
Bowery had the ball in the net in stoppage time but he was pulled up by an offside flag.
Whitaker hit home from the penalty spot after Lester was fouled by Marcus Holness six minutes into the extra half-hour and Lester saw another gilt edged chance saved by Lucas before a right wing cross in from Nicky Adams was sliced into his own goal by skipper Mattis a minute before the break.
Dale sub Joe Thompson headed over, unmarked, from two yards, an Andrew Tutte effort was deflected just wide ahead of Grimes’ 111th winner, a near-post conversion from a Widdowson cross in to end the scoring in an excellent contest.
Rochdale: Lucas; Darby, Trotman, Holness, Widdowson; Kennedy (Thompson 97), Jones, Tutte, Adams; Akpa Akpro, Grimes. Subs (not used): Edwards, Twaddle, Marshall, Fagbola.
Chesterfield: Lee; Holden (Lester 67), Mattis, Downes, Smith; Talbot, Allott, Niven (Clay 113), Whitaker; Morgan, Boden (Bowery 76). Subs not used: Fleming, Randall, Gray, Darikwa. Booked: Allott.
Referee: Scott Mathieson (Stockport).