Jack Lester got everything he wanted from his players today at the Proact as they bettered Notts County to strike a psychological blow to their relegation rivals.
The Spireites were by far the better side in a 3-1 win over the promotion hopefuls, goals from Sid Nelson, Zavon Hines and Kristian Dennis taking Town to within three points of Grimsby Town.
Chesterfield have two games in hand on the Mariners, who sit just above the drop zone, and Friday’s opponents Port Vale.
It was a much needed result for Lester’s side and it made a statement to the other sides at the bottom of League Two.
“You’d think they’d be watching today and seeing how good we are or how bad we are,” he said after the game, televised live on Sky and attended by Grimsby boss Michael Jolley.
“Seeing that performance, they’ll know they’ve got a fight on.”
The performance was underpinned by an aggressive pressing game, stopping Notts’ backline from playing the long passes they wanted into experienced strikers Jon Stead and Shola Ameobi.
And when in possession, Chesterfield were lively and quick to attack.
Lester was understandably over the moon, but while viewers all over the country will have been shocked by the second-bottom side in League Two, he was not.
“I felt the squad was getting stronger again, so I wasn’t surprised by the performance.
“We’re capable of that when we get our strongest side out.
“It reminds the players of what they can do.
“There was a lot to be pleased about.
“I’m delighted with them today, I thought they were brilliant.
“We’ve done quite a lot of work on (pressing) in the last few weeks.
“It was important that was stopped them at source. If you don’t close their back four down they’ll put it in your box and with the experience and height they’ve got up front they would cause us problems.
“But I don’t think anyone across their back four managed to get two or three touches without being closed down.
“That was key to the result.”
It was hard, if not impossible, to spot a weak link in the Town team and while many were deserving of and received praise from the boss, he was happy to pick out a star man.
“Louis Reed was outstanding, he ran the game for me, best player on the pitch,” said the boss.
“He’s enjoying his time here, he’s developing well - we’d love to have him here.”
Chesterfield went 2-0 up before the break and looked comfortable in the second half, even after Notts pulled a late goal back through ex Spireite Dan Jones.
Lester loved his side’s response to conceding - which has often not been the case.
“We were the best team at 2-1 up. When the goal went in, everyone was a little bit - myself included - nine minutes of injury time.
“But once they scored we were the best team, we got the ball down and played.
“We were on the front foot, played all the football and got the next goal.
“We could have had a couple before we got the penalty and that really pleased me, that showed mental strength.”