The influential Dean Morgan missed the Northampton game with a groin injury. He was replaced in the eleven by Mark Allott, with Danny Whitaker moving to wide left. Dwayne Mattis and Ian Breckin returned as far as the bench after recent injuries. Two of Northampton Town's recent loan signings - Jamie Reckord and Nana - started, while the third, Steve Collis, had to be content with a place among the substitutes.
Chesterfield won a corner after only three minutes but Whitaker's delivery was cleared. Lester's perseverance forced Dunn into a fumble and Lester crossed for Davies, in space and three yards out, but Davies put his effort over the bar. As Chesterfield continued to press Deane Smalley headed over after getting up well to a Whitaker cross on 7.
Lester sent the ball through for Davies to chase into the box on 12 and his determination forced Dunn to spill the ball; it ran out to Whitaker, whose well-placed shot was cleared from in front of his goal by Johnson. A Whitaker corner on 13 was worked short with Niven and crossed to the back post, but the ball sped over everyone's head, and out.
After dominating the opening quarter-hour, Chesterfield's pressure began to wane, rather, and the match developed into a midfield battle that neither side won, for a long time. Northampton looked less likely to concede as goalmouth action became rarer, but they lacked the quality to pose a significant threat to Tommy Lee's goal, and had only Osman's weak header at goal on 24 to show for their efforts.
Niven suffered a clash of heads with Osman and was substituted on 31, being replaced by Djilali. Whitaker went inside to allow the Palace loanee to take up a position on the left of midfield.
Northampton won their first corner on 42 but Djilali cleared this; Chesterfield were mired in a spell where they couldn't get the ball out of their half, but the visitors still failed to trouble Lee. The only danger to Tommy's goal came in stoppage time as defenders backed away from Thornton, allowing him to shoot, but his effort was directed wide.
Halftime: 0-0. Attendance: 5,661 (331 from Northampton.)
The Cobblers brought Tozer on for Beckwith as the second half commenced. Northampton were the first to show, when Harrad broke past Robertson but stumbled, and the ball ran through to Lee. Chesterfield came back; Smalley crossed on 51 and Dunn claimed the ball at the second attempt with Davies ready to capitalise on any error.
Northampton had taken a more adventurous spirit into the second half, but lacked the composure to create decent chances. Such opportunities that came their way usually did so after scrappy play, like the Jacobs shot that was blocked by Robertson on his own penalty spot after a high bouncing ball had caused uncertainty in the home defence.
Chesterfield began to reassert themselves on the hour after Djilali cut in from the left and shot wide of Dunn's right-hand post. It was a statement of intent that was taken up by CRAIG DAVIES three minutes later; Jack Lester found a yard between himself and his marker for the first time and turned, took it past two defenders and shot, only to see Dunn parry it. Happily, Davies was following up to atone for his earlier miss and record his 21st goal of the season by steering the ball home from the corner of the six-yard box.
Northampton replaced Thornton with Laurent after 65 minutes. Three minutes after that Scott Griffiths set up the Spireites' second goal. The fullback made a powerful run into the Northampton area and found JACK LESTER with a pass; Jack had the space to fire the ball first-time into the net with his left foot, from around eight yards.
Lee had to get down well to hold a Jacobs shot that probably constituted the greatest danger so far to the Spireites' "goals against" column. The visitors made their third substitution on 79, bringing Wedderburn on for Osman for a bombardment of the Chesterfield goal.
As the visitors applied pressure in an uncomplicated fashion Allott had to hook the ball out of the ground from close to his own six-yard box to prevent Harrad getting a clear sight of goal.
Davies was replaced by Bowery on 81, delaying Northampton's corner; when it finally came over, Johnson came towards the near post and climbed to glance a header over Lee and into the net.
Laurent went into the referee's notebook after pulling back Griffiths near the halfway line. Despite conceding the late goal Chesterfield managed the rest of the game well. Dwayne Mattis came on for Lester in injury time and the last action of the game saw a Jacobs free kick headed over by Johnson. Chesterfield thus triumphed in a game that was often scrappy, against opponents who showed some benefit from new manager Gary Johnson's early work on strengthening the defence.
It was a triumph of perseverance, through retaining belief through those passages of the game when things weren't going according to plan. The rest of the top three won but with Rotherham losing to a late goal at Bradford, and Shrewsbury being held to a draw, the gap between Chesterfield and fourth place has expanded to fifteen points.