Paul Cook will be encouraged by his side’s first half performance at Gresty Road, despite going in goalless at the break.
Chesterfield, backed by a vocal away following, were lively and bright during the opening exchanges, bossing possession and pinning Crewe in their own half.
Gary Roberts, so often the architect for the Spireites, was the visitors’ inspiration once more. A neat chip over Crewe’s back line found the run of Sam Clucas but the former Mansfield man’s touch with the outside of his boot allowed the hosts’ defenders to recover and clear the danger from a promising position for Chesterfield.
And, if Crewe didn’t pick up on the warning the first time around, Roberts lofted a precise ball over Adam Dugdale to Eoin Doyle inside the penalty area.
The Spireites’ top marksman was set to add to his tally of 17 so far this season with just the keeper, Ben Garratt to beat, but an offside flag scuppered the opportunity.
Crewe had offered very little going forward but Dan Jones had to be on his toes to beat Danny Haynes from latching on to Oliver Turton’s through ball.
Jones was full of energy and was soon on the attack, set bursting down the left by Roberts, crossed but cleared. Roberts was running the show early on.
He was involved once more to slip in Jay O’Shea inside left position, the Irishman zipping a ball across goal a matter of inches away from the toes of Doyle.
Greg Leigh threw himself in front of O’Shea’s left-footed effort inside the area after another patient build-up from Chesterfield, who were finding space at will.
In a rare foray forward, Crewe moved the ball well through midfield and Febian Brandy angled a ball across the six yard box but there were no takers.
The hosts’ right-back, James Baillie, was getting little help in combating the Spireites’ threat from Brandy, who appeared to only run one way.
Clucas ran in behind and pulled the ball back for Jimmy Ryan, who lined it up from 25 yards and unleashed a thunderbolt towards the top corner Garratt got his fingers to.
Roberts’ resulting flag kick to the back post saw Charlie Raglan rise above O’Shea unmarked to head in to the side netting, as Chesterfield looked to make their pressure count.
Haynes was quick to dispossess Ian Evatt after the Blues’ skipper trod on the ball and the defender was booked for tripping the attacker up as he looked to run on.
Turton’s delivery wasn’t fully cleared and when the ball fell towards Harry Davis the defender got to the ball ahead of Sam Morsy but threw himself to the floor.
The referee rightly waved away Crewe’s protests, despite claims from the home support.
Chesterfield were a threat on the break and when Tendayi Darikwa found Clucas, the front man back-heeled to Doyle racing through but his shot was straight at Garratt.
The Crewe keeper was called in to action to scramble away Evatt’s back post header, as the defender rose to meet Roberts’ corner in almost a carbon copy to Raglan’s chance.
Evatt stung the palms of Garratt with another powerful header from a corner, O’Shea’s this time, just before the break as the teams went in all square.
Crewe made a half time change with George Cooper replacing Haynes, as Brandy moved to the central point of the hosts’ attack.
Raglan was lucky to escape a booking when his touch let him down and he felled Anthony Grant midway through the opposition’s half.
He recovered to sniff out the Crewe attack before Chesterfield launched one of their own in an end to end start to the second half.
Grant played Inman behind whose cross was slightly behind an unmarked Brandy and Evatt recovered well to clear the danger.
Roberts had one chalked off for offside before Inman rose unchallenged at the other end and glanced a header well wide of the target.
Jon Guthrie had to be alert to run back on to his own goal line and flick Roberts’ curling effort away from danger with two blue shirts running in. Roberts’ effort may have been sneaking in the far corner.
Raglan headed over from the resulting corner floated in from O’Shea. Chesterfield were on the attack once more and Roberts couldn’t quite direct O’Shea’s angled cross towards goal on the slide from six yards out.
Darikwa stood tall to block Brandy’s shot after the former Manchester United man had wriggled his way free from a couple of half-hearted challenges.
The corner was cleared fully and after Turton’s ball in from the right had seen Tommy Lee at full stretch, Guthrie volleyed the rebound well over the bar.
Roberts had Garratt scrambling across his goal with a dipping, curling effort that whistled over the top of the Crewe keeper’s bar from distance.
Inman raced clear, after Grant had got away from Ryan in midfield, shaped to shoot though forgot to pull the trigger and Lee pounced on the loose ball.
A raking ball from right to left released Inman once more, he pulled the ball back to Cooper whose tame effort was blocked, Grant’s follow up denied by Morsy on the slide.
Leigh’s swerving drive from the left of the penalty area forced Lee in to his first proper save of the match, as Crewe looked to snatch it at the death.
Though it was Chesterfield who came closest when Morsy got clear at the edge of the box and sent a fierce effort Garratt was equal to diving low to his right.
Attendance: 4,557 (844)Crewe Alexandra: Garratt, Guthrie, Davis, Dugdale (c), Turton, Inman, Baillie, Leigh, Brandy, Haynes, Grant. Subs: Shearer; Atkinson, Cooper, Saunders, Waters, Ness, Tate.
Chesterfield: Lee: Darikwa, Evatt (c), Raglan, Jones, Morsy, Ryan O’Shea, Roberts, Clucas, Doyle. Subs: Wright, Humphreys, Boco, Banks, Gardener, Ariyibi, Beesley.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Lancashire).