John Sheridan made one change to the side beaten in the Carling Cup, to put out the sort of formation that finished that game strongly. Rob Page gave way to Derek Niven and it was expected that the Spireites would line up like this:
Hunt, Breckin, Ford, Griffiths
Talbot, Niven, Allott Mattis, Whitaker
Six subs were named, in Redmond, Bowery, Boden, Gray, Clay and Darikwa.
Tommy Lee kicked a clearance against Justin Richards in the opening seconds but the referee penalised the Vale man for handball. Vale won the game's first corner in the third minute after a Ford clearance; the ball was senttowards the goal but it was cleared via Hunt's back; McCombe tried his luck but put the ball over.
Chesterfield came back at Vale and Talbot and Mattis both had efforts blocked before Vale cleared their lines.
Marc Richards gave Vale the lead in the 12th minute after Ford was unable to clear a bobbling ball in the penalty area. The ball fell kindly for him to crack it into the net from around ten yards. Vale continued to press and Roberts' shot was deflected away from goal on 20. Roberts' low free kick bobbled and deflected out eventually for a goal kick. Vale almost doubled their lead when Marc Richards got his head to a cross, but the ball struck the crossbar.
Chesterfield won their first corner of the game through Talbot on 23. Tomlinson punched as Breckin was held down but Ford and a Vale man clashed heads in the box, so play was held up.
Chesterfield changed formation halfway through the first period, sending Talbot up front to partner Lester, and switching Niven to right midfield. Yates' clever chip to the back post invited Justin Richards to make it two with a free header on 29, but Lee and the woodwork combined to keep the ball out.
Talbot's neat low cross on 37 was cut out just before it reached Lester but a goal kick resulted. Talbot appeared to be brought down while chasing a Niven pass but play continued. Marc Richards saw a shot deflected for a corner after he used his strength to out-manoeuvre Ford.
Halftime: Vale 1 Spireites 0 Attendance: 6044 (459 visitors)
McCombe headed a ball from the right just wide on 47 as the second half resumed in similar fashion to how the first one ended. Chesterfield came back, though, and won their second corner of the game on 48. Whitaker's delivery came through to Talbot who couldn't get a shot away before Vale cleared. Roberts forced a corner off Hunt on 50; the ball went through the defence and McCombe returned it for Richards to squirt a shot narrowly wide.
Chesterfield brought Bowery on for Niven on 52, pushing Talbot back out to the right of midfield. Richards loomed at the far post as the ball came over but Griffiths did well to clear at the expense of a corner. The kick went through everyone and was cleared by Allott. Chesterfield seemed to be coming back into the game a little; Bowery was very nearly put through by Talbot on 58 and Mattis and Whitaker worked hard to link with a front line that had been improved by Bowery's injection of pace.
Marc Richards picked up a knock in a challenge with Griffiths on 61 but resumed after treatment. He went down again in his first involvement, though, and was soon replaced by Dodds. Bowery dropped his shoulder, got to the bye-line and crossed on 65 but the cross evaded everyone; a bobbling ball in the Vale box fell to Lester on a tight angle but Jack couldn't convert. Whitaker had a couple of half-chances and Tomlinson had to save at the second attempt to deny the midfielder.
Lee was forced to complete a fine save from McCombe on 68. Play was beingstretched open and Chesterfield were giving as good as they got in this phase of the game. Hunt was booked for a shirt-pull on 69. Whitaker came back to concede a corner when Richards broke past Ford and Breckin. Talbot cleared and Allott's challenge on Dodds presented Vale with a free kick 25 yards out, dead central. Loft lofted the ball over the bar.
Loft was withdrawn with injury after a challenge with Griffiths, to be replaced by Taylor on 74. Hunt's shot was wide and high on 75. Whitaker fired a great ball across the box but no-one read his intention and the cross went unattended.
Scott Boden replaced Jack Lester on 77. Within a minute or two, Talbot and Boden combined to lay the ball on to Bowery and DWAYNE MATTIS, who converted to equalise. The midfielder thus became the first Chesterfield player to score in his first three games since Terry Poole, fifty years ago. Immediately, Vale brought on Bell-Baggie before the game restarted.
Lee's recent improvement in handling continued when his side needed it, coming to catch a cross as Vale looked to re-establish superiority that had diminished since Marc Richards went off. Bowery appeared to have forced a corner off Tomlinson on 84 but the referee saw a goal kick.
Tomlinson produced a fine save to deny Talbot after Bowery's break; Drew tried to lob the keeper in a one on one but Tomlinson was resolute and well-placed. Mattis gave away a free kick thirty yards out with four minutes left and was yellow-carded but Bell-Baggie's delivery was dealt with by the visitors' defence.
Ford got a glance to a cross towards Dodds and it went out for a corner, which was cleared. Bowery won an important, time-consuming corner in stoppage time; Chesterfield brought Breckin and Ford forwards, though, sensing the ability to deliver a killer punch. Whitaker took it but Griffith cleared; Bowery turned and shot in Lester fashion and it was deflected for another corner. This was cleared for a throw. The change since Marc Richards went off and Jordan Bowery came on was remarkable and Vale were left to hang on in some desperation as time ran out.