Chesterfield made five changes to the side beaten at Scunthorpe in midweek, recalling Picken, Lowry, Page and Niven, while Lester returned having finished his two-game ban.
The Spireites kicked off towards the Kop, but the visitors fashioned the first chance, when Guinan floated an effort just wide of Lee's left-hand post in the opening minute. A flurry of Northampton corners were defended stoutly by the home side, and it was Chesterfield who had the ball in the net first, when McDermott's 7th-minute cross from the left found the stooping head of Talbot at the far post. After initially appearing to give it the referee pulled the game back for a foul by the Chesterfield man as he went for the ball.
This inspired the home side. McDermott caught the eye on the left wing, but Lowry's work on the right was equally good, and his 9th-minute pass to Lester invited a quick lay-off to Talbot, but the ball was taken off his foot by a timely challenge.
The Cobblers' right were having problems containing McDermott, and resorted to increasingly desperate measures. Within the space of two minutes both Osman and Curtis went into the book for fouls on the bright young player. The Spireites continued to enjoy the upper hand and Breckin's near-post flick on a McDermott corner deserved some attention at the back post, but none was forthcoming. Guinan went into the book for a poor challenge on Allott on 28.
Chesterfield took a deserved lead on the half-hour. Jack Lester, so often the finisher, turned provider on this occasion with a sumptuous 40-yard crossfield pass that invited the run from Donal McDermott. The young Irishman showed enough to Rodgers to invite him to commit, whereupon he powered the ball across Dunn, in the visitors' goal, and into the far corner of the net, from twenty yards.
Akinfenwa got in front of Breckin to head into Guinan's path on 37 but Page came in with nothing less than a goal-saving tackle in the centre of his own penalty area. Chesterfield played some fine stuff and went in search of a second, which Drew Talbot's diving header from a Lester cross nearly delivered on 42. Beckwith headed a Lowry cross out on 43 as the uncertain Dunn came and punched his own man's head instead of the ball.
Right at the end of the first half a Marshall shot went narrowly over, but not even the most trenchant Cobblers fan could deny the fairness of Chesterfield's lead at half time.
Halftime: Chesterfield 1 Northampton Town 0
The Visitors might have equalised at the start of the second period, as it seemed to take the Spireites a few minutes to engage their thinking gears. An early corner came to Marshall, but the Stoke loanee shot over. Guinan took Austin's weak header but Niven put himself in the way to win the ball back. Niven was called on again to block Curtis's shot for another corner; Akinfenwa's persistence won an opening from this, but his shot was weak, and dribbled into Lee's arms from ten yards.
A push on the breaking Talbot won a free kick 30 yards from the Cobblers' goal on 53. McDermott's fre kick was blocked to Lester who shot through his marker's legs. The ball got a touch off the Northampton man but a goal kick was given.
Andy Holt's head had been swathed in bandages from the kick-off but the 56th minute saw him pull them off dramatically, like Neville Davitt's wig in "Golden Gordon."
Page came to the rescue again on 57 as Akinfenwa forced a weak clearance. From the break McDermott's shot was deflected into the path of Allott, whose rasping effort was parried by Dunn. The Chesterfield midfielder showed commitment and awareness when racing from centre midfield to chase down a loose ball by the Pop Side on 63; from his pull-back, Lester saw a shot blocked.
Northampton brought Gilligan on for Hinton, their skipper, after 64, allowing Marshall to push further forward. Marshall and Gilligan were both allowed crosses but Page dealt with one and the other drifted out. Akinfenwa was winning the ball and laying it off, but Lee was the equal of anything that tested him.
Lester's 70th-minute shot from a Niven pass forced Dunn to scramble to his left to save. Two minutes later Marshall cut in from his left and shot, only to see the curling ball strike the post. With Northampton winning central midfield at this time, Dan Gray was introduced at Niven's expense; the instructions from the bench seemed to be for Dan to make a three, with Allott and Lowry, leaving McDermott and Talbot on the wings, until things were brought back under control.
The change had the desired effect, and the visitors didn't really threaten again. The visitors brought McKay on for Guinan and Rose for Marshall, but John Sheridan countered by bringing Gregor Robertson on for the tiring Talbot, to shore things up. The visitors peppered the home box with long throws but Page and Breckin were heading away for fun. Indeed, it was Chesterfield that came closest to scoring again in the last moments, when McDermott's run gave Lester the chance of a shot, which the keeper did well to parry.
Full time: Chesterfield 1 Northampton 0