Gary Caldwell says his side will keep fighting until it’s mathematically impossible for them to exit the League One relegation zone.
But he was damning of the Spireites’ second half display as they gave up a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 to fellow strugglers Bury.
Town lost Tom Anderson to a red card and although debutant keeper Thorsten Stuckmann saved a spot-kick, he was beaten by a wondergoal and then gifted the Shakers a late winner.
The way the second half finished was a far cry to the way the first half finished, Chesterfield ahead through Kristian Dennis and looking comfortable.
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Caldwell said their second half performance was ‘unacceptable’ and things needed to change if they were to maintain League One status.
“That’s football,” he said ruefully after the game.
“I spoke to the players and said I’ll defend them as much as I can but there’s not a problem in the game first half, we played very well and got in front.
“We could have scored more.
“Second half, whilst we didn’t play as well we still had that opportunity.
“But we can’t play with any fear. We can’t play with a worry of what the outcome is going to be.
“We have to do what is clearly working in the first half and we didn’t, and paid a massive price for it.”
Caldwell described the atmosphere in a dejected Town dressing room and revealed some home truths he’d delivered to his players.
“There’s frustration, there’s anger,” he said.
“I said we can’t accept it anymore, there are certain things I see in the second half that are not acceptable.
“They’re all playing for their careers, their future, this club’s future. They have to do more.
“In the second half there was nothing in terms of composure on the ball, winning second balls, having desire to get us up the pitch when we were under the cosh.
“That has to change, it’s a mentality, it’s nothing to do with tactics and it has to change.”
Caldwell was also unhappy with the nature of Anderson’s dismissal, the manager certain it should have been a yellow card when the defender brought down Ryan Lowe in the box.
“I think the rule needs to be clarified,” he said.
“He made a genuine attempt to get the ball, he’s brought the man down so it’s a yellow card.
“The ref sends him off, I don’t think the ref knows the rules.”
He wasn’t using the sending off as an excuse however, feeling Bury had simply taken control of the game.
“It makes it very difficult.
“But I said to Ritchie, there’s nothing that can change this. We tried to make changes, we went 4-1-4-1 to try and stop the flow Bury had.
“But players have to do that, they have to put their foot on the ball, run with the ball, we were just waiting for something to happen. And it happened.”
Stuckmann’s penalty save kept Chesterfield in the game at 1-1 but the hosts were hanging on and in the 90th minute the goalkeeper failed to control a Sam Hird backpass, George Miller nipping in, rounding the stopper and finding the net.
Caldwell has challenged his players to fight harder in a crucial final 14 games of the season.
“You need 11 players to dig in for 15 minutes and put their lives on the line and we didn’t have that. If you don’t have that you’re going to concede goals,” he said.
“I’ve been here a while now and tried to change things but now they have to be told, they have to do it my way or this club is drifting into the league below.
“I told people in there we have to do more, we will keep working and keep going.
“There’s plenty of games to go, there’s a long, long way to go.
“If you’ve got a bit of drive, a team that’s together, it’s never over until the points are too much to claw back.
“We’ll keep fighting.”