Headers early in each half gave Spireites their first league win at Walsall in ten years.
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake got on the end of a perfectly placed Chris Herd cross from way out on the right to open the scoring with his first goal since August and, after the break Ian Evatt, running in late, powered home a deep left-sided Dan Gardner corner for his first of the season to become the 10th different Spireite to score this term.
That second goal marked the first occasion Saddlers, the 3pm leaders, had conceded more than one in the league this season; of away teams, only Chelsea have reached two at Bescot this season in their 4-1 Capital One Cup win last month, indicating Spireites’ brace was no mean feat.
There was a scare in the final flurries; six minutes of stoppage time was indicated, Walsall keeper Neil Etheridge picked up a nasty cut on his knee in the clash with Ebanks-Blake led to the scoring corner whilst key midfielder Sam Mantom was stretchered off with an ankle injury.
Three minutes into added time Milan Lalkovic crossed for fellow sub Jordan Cook, he headed against the bar and big defender Matt Preston, making his first league start, followed it up to test the visitor’s nerves and, having lost points to injury time goals three times in September, this time they held firm.
Chesterfield’s resolve throughout the game was impressive; with Novak and Drew Talbot returning, the extra experience helped the team through some rocky times. Lee made two terrific saves from Tom Bradshaw and Mantom plus a whole host of other key interventions and Adam Chambers rattled the post from distance. In front of Lee, both the four defenders and four midfielders played for the cause with plenty of tenacity and determination.
Dean Saunders was delighted with the doggedness of his players: “Sam Morsy and Chris Herd did the job in front of the back four and the two wide players defended well, that’s not their game but they’ve done it well and the midfield protected the back four.
“We started great, the ball was sticking up there; Lee Novak and Sylvan caused them a lot of problems but we were solid as a team and didn’t make any mistakes and when we did, Tommy Lee saved them.”
On the final whistle the most joyous of the visiting players was Herd, who was the best outfield performer on the day. He was clearly delighted with the result. His manager said: “He wants to win and the fans will love him because he puts his foot in, he’s similar to Sam, you really wouldn’t want to play against those two.”
It was Spireites fourth win on the road but they haven’t won at home since the opening day.
Scunthorpe visit on Saturday, but tomorrow night Southend United, six wins in their last seven games, will present Spireites with a stern test.
Walsall: Etheridge 6, Preston 6, Downing 7, Taylor 6 (Morris 73), Chambers 6, Demetriou 8, Flanagan 6 (Cook HT, 6), Mantom 7 (Lalkovic 66, 7), Henry 6, Sawyers 7, Bradshaw 6. Subs (not used): MacGillivray, Forde, Baxendale, Kinsella.
Goal: Preston 90+3
Chesterfield: Lee 9, Talbot 7, Raglan 7, Evatt 8, Jones 7, Herd 8, Morsy 7, Gardner 6, O’Shea 6, Novak 7 (Simons 87), Ebanks-Blake 7 (Dieseruvwe 87). Subs (not used): Cairns, O’Neil, Hird, Banks, Ariyibi.
Goals: Ebanks-Blake 5, Evatt 54
Ref: Chris Kavanagh (Manchester)
Booked: Jones, Talbot, Morsy (Chesterfield)
Attendance: 4,766 (399 from Chesterfield)