Chesterfield continued their surge on the play-offs with a comfortable 3-0 win over Port Vale at the Proact Stadium - on a day that commemorated the career of legendary striker Ernie Moss.
More than 7,000 witnessed seventh take on eighth prior to kick off but in truth the gulf between the two teams was much more on a cold and blustery January afternoon in north Derbyshire.
Armand Gnanduillet opened the scoring with a powerful header after the hosts had weathered a bright start from a Vale side, who had won three from four going in to this one under Rob Page.
The Spireites are in fine form too, unbeaten now in six games and their grip on this one was strengthened when top scorer Eoin Doyle converted from the penalty spot in the second half.
The efficient way the hosts put this contest beyond Port Vale will please manager Paul Cook, as Charlie Raglan got Chesterfield’s third - his first career goal - to maintain the pressure on Sheffield United in sixth spot.
Chesterfield manager Paul Cook named an unchanged side for the third game running, with Gnanduillet and Doyle partnered up front in an attacking 4-4-2.
Sam Morsy once again captained the side in the absence of Ian Evatt through injury, Raglan and Sam Hird continue at the heart of the Spireites’ defence.
Raglan, a summer signing from FC United of Manchester, made his first appearance for the Spireites in the reverse fixture at Vale Park in August.
Cook’s side have a FA Cup third round replay against Scunthorpe United to look forward to on Tuesday night for the chance to play Derby County.
The manager is taking nothing for granted: “We have to earn the right to play our county neighbours by beating Scunthorpe,” he penned in his pre-match notes.
The publication also featured heavily the club’s all-time record goalscorer and one of its greatest ever servants, Ernie Moss, who is suffering with a form of dementia.
A celebratory round of applause for the legendary striker, who represented both clubs, was carried out by both sets of fans in the eighth minute - Ernie’s number.
Port Vale saw a lot of the ball early on and had a sight of goal when Mark Marshall crossed for Louis Dodds to loop a header on to the roof of the net.
Morsy, booed every time he touched the ball by the visiting support, looked to thread Doyle in but for once the Irishman’s touch let him down and the ball ran out of play.
Dodds got away from his man with a neat touch in the penalty area to cross for Williamson to head harmlessly wide, as Morsy had a shot blocked at the other end.
And the hosts took an 11th minute lead when Gary Roberts picked the ball up on the left, fed Romuald Boco who clipped in an inviting cross Gnanduillet took full advantage of.
The Spireites’ number nine powered his header in to the turf and beyond Chris Neal from six yards out and celebrated in front of the Vale fans that jeered him.
Boco threatened from distance with a thunderous drive as the hosts settled in to their rhythm, Gnanduillet beat two in the area and forced Neal in to a save at his near post.
Michael Brown, the former Sheffield United midfielder, lunged in twice on Roberts within the space of as many minutes but referee, Darren Bond, ignored their protests.
Roberts attempted a curler in to the top corner that fractionally wide of the intended target, with Boco screaming for the ball in space to his right.
Brown was in the book moments later for a third late challenge on Roberts in front of the dugouts that incensed the home faithful, Mr Bond taking action this time.
Carl Dickinson was cautioned five minutes before the break for a forceful challenge, despite winning the ball, as Chesterfield looked to break.
Hird made a vital interception to prevent Dodds from finding Williamson six yards from goal just before the interval as Port Vale searched for an equaliser.
Roberts and Boco combined in the early stages of the second half with the latter getting to the byline and crossing in to the mixer for Vale to clear.
Williamson shot from distance but Tommy Lee wasn’t troubled in the home side’s goal. A Morsy cross just evaded Doyle and Gnanduillet as Chesterfield responded.
Michael O’Connor was cautioned for a challenge that left Roberts in a heap on the floor and the yellow card count mounted up even further for the visitors when Frederic Veseli hauled Doyle down inside the penalty area.
Spireites’ top scorer stepped up confidently and smashed his spot kick in to the top corner, sending Neal the wrong way, for his 23rd goal of the season.
Chesterfield piled on the pressure, Morsy forced Neal in to a save at full stretch to his left and substitute Jimmy Ryan crashed a shot that flew inches wide.
And the game was put to bed when Raglan rose to meet another substitute, Jay O’Shea’s, corner for his first senior goal in the 70th minute of the match.
Williamson turned sharply for the visitors and crashed a shot against the angle of post and cross bar before substitute Achille Campion drew a save from Lee.
Chesterfield (4-4-2): Lee; Darikwa, Raglan, Hird, Clucas; Boco, Morsy, Humphreys, Roberts; Gnanduillet, Doyle
Subs: Wright, Gardner, Ryan, O’Shea, Jones, Talbot, Dieseruvwe
Port Vale (4-4-1-1): Neal; Yates, Veseli, Duffy, Dickinson; Marshall, O’Connor, Brown, N’Guessan; Dodds; Williamson.
Subs: Johnson, Robertson, Birchall, Lines, Daniel, Moore, Campion
Referee: Darren Bond (Lancashire)
Attendance: 7,034 (1,087).