John Sheridan brought Adam Rundle in for Conlon and Andy Whing in for a full debut at the expense of Dan Gray.
Port Vale set the agenda from the start with a terrific display. An impressive workrate came from a side that its share of big players, but where that is sometimes said to imply criticism of their style, no such qualification can be applied to Vale. Their physicality never strayed into dirtiness yet it was applied with such commitment that it intimidated Chesterfield, and the home side were never in the game to any meaningful extent, from the first minute to the last.
Davies and Richards were the tormentors-in-chief, and the pair combined as early as the third minute, when Davies met his team-mares cross to flick narrowly side at the near post. Vale won the game's first corner off Rundle on 7 but this was cleared, and Page headed away Fraser's return cross.
Allott and Whaley had efforts blocked as Chesterfield tried to muster some resistance and Small won a corner on 14 when chasing down Haldane, but Vale retained the upper hand and took the lead on 19. Breckin's clearance came to Robert Taylor on the edge of the centre circle and he went off on an unchallenged run to the edge of the Chesterfield penalty area before driving a shot into the net.
Davies was booked for going through late on Goodall but contact was minimal, and the full-back was up on his feet before the referee had finished his paperwork. Talbot won a corner on 23 but Vale came back and won one of their own two minutes later. Haldane picked up the clearance from the flag kick and centred for Fraser, who headed wide at the near post, having apparently lost his bearings. Lee had to save a Griffiths shot on 25.
Chesterfield wasted a great chance to pull level on 41 when Talbot's cross was steered wide at the far post by Rundle, with the goal at his mercy. From the next attack Richards latched onto a Davies flick to fire a narrow-angle shot into the net for his side's second goal. Niven, who had been struggling with an ankle knock, was booked for a foul on Davies as the visitors closed the first half strongly.
Halftime: Spireites 0 Vale 2. Attendance 4138 (670 visitors.)
Niven was replaced by Boshell for the start of the second half. Small cut in to fire a shot into the side netting on 47, but it was business as usual on 49 when Richards took a Davies flick on to thump a shot home from the edge of the box and extend his side's lead.
A couple of Spireite corners pre-empted Chesterfield substitutions, with Boden replacing Rundle on 57 and Madine coming on for Small three minutes later. This lifted the home side for ten minutes or so but they still lacked the ability to puncture a determined and energetic Vale defence, and not one decent, clear chance was created by the home side in the second period.
Richards completed his hat-trick on 79, from a Collins cross, giving Lee no chance from close range, and Vale got their fifth from the penalty spot with seven minutes remaining. The high defence was sprung and Davies raced through, only to be brought down by Goodall, who was red-carded before Davies himself blasted the spot kick past Tommy Lee.
Burslem Port Vale won 4-0 here in 1899 on their first League visit to Saltergate, and thus went one better on their last. Whether it was the club's decision or that of the sponsors, it was decided not to present the usual sponsors' "Man of the Match" award. There is usually some debate among the crowd as to their choice of player, but on this occasion there could be no reasonable dissent, with the side slumping to their worst home defeat since the 6-0 hammering from Wrexham in the last days of Joe Shaw's managerial reign, back in 1976-7.