Despite being reasonably satisfied with many elements of his side's last match, John Sheridan made four changes to the side that lost to Carlisle in the Johnstone's Paints Trophy in midweek. Perkins, Small and Little returned to the side, while loan signing Kieran Djalali made his Spireite debut. Phil Picken started at left-back, while Djalali lined up on the left side of midfield.
With a minute on the clock Allott and Picken teamed up to clear after Wiseman pressed down the Rochdale wing. The ball held up on the wet Spotland pitch as Dale did most of the early running. Lester was stopped by a timely tackle from McArdle as he tried to work an opening on the edge of the dale box, on 5.
A Perkins corner, the game's first, was headed away by Kennedy on 6. The ex-Miller O'Grady ballooned an effort over on 7 as he fell in the act of shooting. Chesterfield were seeing more of the ball in an attacking dimension: Lester beat a man and whipped a cross over on 8, which Wiseman turned behind for the visitors' second corner. Perkins' flag kick was claimed by Heaton in the Dale nets. O'Grady combined with Dagnall to give the latter a shooting chance, and Lee produced a good save to push it round for Dale's first corner, which the Spireites comfortably cleared.
The first phase of the game was played at an entertaining pace, despite the poor conditions, with each side attacking in turn. Djalali's first real involvement saw him work the ball to Lester on 12 and cut in to fire the return towards the Dale net, but the ball was cleared.
Breckin brought O'Grady down on 14, but escaped without a booking. Djalali took an Allott ball and came at Dawson with great pace, but the defender stood firm to concede a corner. Perkins' flag kick nearly went in off a Dale head, but the home side cleared. Small broke into the area on 17, taking it past McArdle but the ball held up in standing water and the forward ended up dragging the ball just wide.
Jones found Dagnall on 20 and he shot powerfully from outside the box, and Lee was forced into a decent save to concede another corner, which Dagnall scissor-kicked over the bar.
Chesterfield's centre-halves had a hand in establishing a lead for the visitors on 25. Page went up for a free-kick and headed on; Breckin got a downward header on it and JACK LESTER was left with a simple tap-in.
Whaley shot from 25 yards; Lee moved with the shot but saw the ball clear the bar.
On 27 JACK LESTER got in behind the Rochdale defence after an error in midfield and raced clear, picking his spot to double the lead and put the visitors firmly in the driving seat. Two minutes later, on the counter, Lester fed Talbot and he chose to try to find Small, rather than shoot; the ball went behind Small, however, and a great opportunity was wasted. Little went on a fine run as Chesterfield turned it on, powering from the right-back position to win a corner on 31. Stevens and Whaley won the ball back to clear.
Dale won another corner on 33 but Lee did well to claim the cross from the attentions of McArdle. Dale woke up and came at Chesterfield more, but this only presented opportunities for the visitors on the break. Picken made one such surge forward on 36, finding Lester, but his shot from 12 yards went wide. O'Grady controlled well on 38 but could only produce a tame volley at the end of it, and Lee had no problem in saving.
Djalali broke on 40 and found Small but a last-ditch tackle did enough to rob the Chesterfield forward. Rochdale manager Keith Hill expressed his frustration at his side's performance by making a tactical substitution, bringing Buckley on for Stephens three minutes before halftime. Buckley beat Little for pace on 44 but the defender recovered to get a toe in, allowing Page to clear up. The half-time whistle was met with a chorus of boos from disgruntled home supporters.
A further Dale substitution was made as the second half waited to commence, with Flynn replacing Gary Jones. Page slid in on Dagnall to deflect a shot away; Buckley crossed but Breckin headed clear as Dale pressed at the start of the second period. Buckley fed O'Grady on 47 and his shot was saved by Lee, at the expense of a corner. The flag kick bobbled and was met by McArdle, whose effort was deflected for another corner. Again, the ball was not cleared and O'GRADY belted the ball home to bring Dale back into it on 49.
Lester turned and shot from 12 yards on 51 but the ball went straight at the keeper. Little timed a tackle well to deny Buckley and give away another corner; from the kick Dawson's header at the back of the box was scrambled over the line to equalise, after the intervention of the lineman.
A foul on Lester gave the Spireites a free kick in a dangerous position on 58; Lester's shot beat the wall but hit Talbot on the way wide. Perkins broke and was pushed over a yard outside the box, but the ref chose to take no action against the erring defender beyond d awarding another free kick in a threatening position. The ball was worked to Little, whose drive deflected off McArdle and struck the crossbar.
Allott was fouled by O'Grady on 62 - his third foul of the second half - but no action was taken against the former Rotherham man. Chesterfield showed that they had recovered from Dale's early second-half battering by regaining the lead on 20, with a fine shot by DAVID PERKINS from 20 yards in the 64th minute.
Djalali and Small worked the ball to Lester on 69 but the shot was saved. Lester got into the box after a diagonal ball from Small but the ball ran away from him and McArdle was able to clear. Page was judged to have fouled O'Grady on 73 but Chesterfield stood firm to rebuff the attack from a feverish bank of Dale forwards.
Buckley again took on Little on 75 and centred, but Page swept the cross clear. Dale continued to press but a steady stream of fouls from Dale men helped to break up the pressure and present Chesterfield with opportunities of their own to get forward.
Picken was booked for a foul on Whaley, who had just fouled him, on 79. Allott conceded a free kick just outside the box on 80. Whaley's free kick was punched away by Lee, allowing Talbot to counter; Picken worked it up to Lester, who held it up and laid it off for Allott, but the midfielder's shot took a deflection and was easily saved.
Little conceded another free kick to allow another free cross, which was cleared. Scott Boden came on for Wade Small with four minutes of normal time remaining. Buckley switched to the right but Perkins defended well; Dagnall broke forward but Chesterfield defended firmly, allowing the forward no opportunity to get a shot away while avoiding the sort of challenge that might have brought a Dale penalty.
Dale brought Spencer on for O'Grady on 89. McArdle fouled Lester as the game entered stoppage time, allowing Chesterfield some breathing space. Dale came back, though, to win another corner; Whaley took it and Lee punched on to the far side and The Spireites brought the ball away. Boden looked to get his head to the ball and remained down after clashing heads with the Dale goalie. Djalali's pace saw him reach a long ball; he took it into the corner and was fouled by Wiseman, who was yellow-carded. The free kick was cleared for a corner and the referee's whistle brought this fine game to an end with the ball in the Dale half.