Chesterfield's Football League status is dangling by a thread after crashing to a late defeat at relegation rivals Grimsby Town.
Mitch Rose's 88th minute penalty, awarded following a handball by Sid Nelson, could prove to be the final nail in the Spireites coffin – who must now win games in hand to have any chance of survival after slipping to the bottom of League Two.
To their credit, the Blues began the match in bright fashion and won a string of early corners – cheered on by an away end of almost 1,500.
The visitors were set up to counter-attack and they did exactly that on 19 minutes when Jacob Brown broke from inside his own half. He fed the ball to Andy Kellett and the midfielder danced away from two challenges before curling an effort narrowly wide of target.
Next to go close was lively winger Zavon Hines. Luke Summerfield gave the ball away cheaply in the middle of the park for the hosts and Hines scampered to the edge of the box before dragging his shot wide.
Grimsby had their moments in the first half, often through Siriki Dembele, but they failed to force Aaron Ramsdale into anything like a save.
Jack Lester’s men continued to create chances and home goalkeeper James McKeown brilliantly dived at full stretch to deny Kristian Dennis’ fierce volley from the edge of the area on 39 minutes.
At the other end, the Mariners finally conjured a chance but Alex Whitmore did superbly to thwart JJ Hooper with a last ditch tackle.
The Mariners almost broke the deadlock seconds after the restart. Rose’s long-throw was heading towards goal before Drew Talbot cleared the ball off the line.
The game burst into life on the hour mark and Ramsdale produced a sensational double-save. Firstly the shot-stopper clawed out a Summerfield header before somehow clambering to his feet and thwarting Rose from point blank range.
Both teams put everything into grabbing the winning goal and it was Grimsby who snatched it on 88 minutes. With the game stretched, Town gambled and were rewarded with a penalty after Nelson handled in the box, Rose duly stepped up to slot the ball into the bottom corner to spark chaos among the home faithful.
Grimsby Town: (4-4-2): McKeown 7, Hall-Johnson 7, Clarke 7, Collins 7, Fox 7, Woolford 6, Summerfield 6, Rose 8, Dembele 7 (McSheffrey 75 6), Vernon 6 (Cardwell 71 6), Hooper 6 (Jaiyesimi 68 5)
Subs not used: Killip, Mills, Matt McAllister
Chesterfield: (4-5-1): Ramsdale 8, Barry 7, Nelson 6, Whitmore 8, Talbot 7, Brown 7, Reed 7, Weir 7 (O’Grady 81 6), Kellett 7, Hines 7 (McCourt 61 6), Dennis 7
Subs not used: Anyon, Smith, Rowley, McGuire, Dodds
Referee: Robert Madley