Chesterfield ended a run of three defeats and climbed back up to fifth with Jack Lester's ninth goal of the season proving to be the only one of a hard-fought game at Saltergate this afternoon.
Phil Picken was brought into the side for the injured Drew Talbot, while Terrell Lewis took Davide Somma's place on the bench after the Leeds loanee picked up a slight hamstring strain. Veteran Mark Crossley was preferred in goal to Tommy Lee but Tommy must have cursed the luck that saw him left out against opponents that mustered only two shots on target all afternoon.
Chesterfield began in impressive fashion. The Blues' first corner came after only three minutes, when Small's shot was deflected wide, but it was rather wasted after a short-corner move broke down. Djalali rounded his full-back and won another corner on 8 and Rob Page rose to power a back-post header goalwards, but Low got up to head off the line.
The home side's initial impetus was absorbed by a determined Cheltenham side and twenty minutes passed before a third corner came the Spireites' way when Perkins' shot came off a visiting leg on its way out. Picken's hard work on 30 set up Morris, whose shot surprised Brown a little in the Robins' net, but he was still able to get his arms up to block the effort. Chesterfield continued to look like the only side capable of creating chances and Lester worked Morris through on 33; he found Small, who played it wider to Djalali, who cut in and shot over from around the edge of the box.
Cheltenham won a corner off Little on 35 but nothing came of it. Morris shot wide on 40 after finishing a move that he started with a smart turn away from his man in midfield.
Easton's poor back-pass put his side under pressure and gave away the first of three corners in rapid succession. The first saw Breckin head the ball back into the mix, but it was scrambled away; from the second, Djalali found the ball stuck under his feet and again, it was scrambled away. The third, taken by Djalali on the main stand side, inexplicably cleared two Cheltenham men at the near post and JACK LESTER was well-placed to meet it with a stooping header from just inside the six yard box, to give his side a well-deserved lead.
Halftime: 1-0 to Chesterfield. Attendance: 3145 (115 from Cheltenham.)
A long ball was sent forward into Cheltenham territory soon after the resumption and Small got to it before the keeper; Lester rose between two defenders to meet his cross but put his header wide.
Early substitutions by the visitors saw Richards and Haynes replaced Alsopp and Marshall and Cheltenham looked to have enhanced the threat to Breckin and Page by this, but the pair stood firm, with Page in particularly impressive form. Crossley was forced to go down to his right to gather a Labade shot on 53.
Chesterfield continued to press but the visitors' resoluteness gave little time to our central midfield and kept chances to a minimum. Djalali ran at the defence and shot over on 72 and Small lost the chance to sacore when the ball stuck under his feet on the edge of the penalty box after Lester had set him through on 75. A Lewis shot on 78 forced Crossley to make a good-looking diving save.
Hammond replaced Bird on 79 and Scott Boden came on for Small a minute later. Niven came on for Lester with eight minutes left. Despite some anxiety in the crowd the visitors were denied any further scoring opportunities; indeed, Boden might have extended the lead after Allott's fine interception in injury time, but Brown's legs denied him.