Chesterfield manager John Sheridan made two changes to the side that suffered injury-time heartbreak at Wycombe last week for the visit of fellow-strugglers Walsall. Leon Clarke was replaced by Jack Lester, while Neal Trotman came in for Aaron Downes. The Spireites lined up thus:
Talbot, Trotman, Ford, Griffiths
Mendy, Allott, Whitaker, Westcarr
Subs: Fleming, Bowery, Obadeyi, Downes, Smith.
A chance for Westcarr from a Talbot cross in the first minute was kept out by Walker and it ran agonisingly the wrong side of a defender for Lester to make anything of the rebound before the ball was hacked away. Morgan's trickery baffled Westlake and helped his side win a corner in the sixth minute, but Trotman's header went out for a goal kick.
Walsall won a corner after Taundry's cross was blocked by Griffiths; Butler climbed well but saw his header drift over. As Walsall began to benefit from the confidence of a decent start Trotman kept pace with Macken to force the ball out for another Walsall corner, which Westcarr cleared for throw.
The first half decayed into a scrappy affair that neither side could dominate. On 21 a handball saw Westcarr fire a free kick goalwards but it was blocked out to Allott, whose measured shot was similarly blocked as Walsall put bodies in the way.
On 22 Macken broke away and was fed by a fine pass; central, and on the edge of the area, he struck the ball wide when an extra touch and a tad more composure might have seen him puit the Saddlers one up. Griffiths was closing him down but it was still a bad miss. Chesterfield didn't learn from this and, when Nicholls was in the same position to take a similar ball from Peterlin six minutes later he made no mistake, taking a touch before firing home to give the visitors the lead.
Regular positional changes were made to try to test the opposition, with Mendy and Morgan changing sides after Westcarr had swapped with Dean up front. It meant Walsall couldn't relax, but it didn't really sharpen the threat that the Spireites were able to summon up in what was a desperately disappointing first period.
Halftime: Spireites 0 Saddlers 1 (Attendance 6,236; 469 from Walsall.)
From the first whistle, it was clear that Chesterfield came out with more intent than they had displayed in the first half. With the crowd behind them they applied more pressure to Walsall's rearguard and only the determined Butler held it together. Good work from Morgan saw the ball come to Lester, with the ball at his feet, but with the big Walsall centre-half pressed directly behind him, he was unable to find a yard of space in which to turn and fashion a shot. Mendy cut in and got a shot on target, and a good Morgan cross just cleared Westcarr's despairing leap on 54.
The home side continued to press, but were always susceptible to a break. Lee might have handled the ball in sliding outside the box on 56 but pressure from a Walsall man probably caused it, and forced a corner. Mendy's pressure forced Paterson to sky a shot when the flag kick was blocked.
Mendy was more influential at this stage; a neat dummy saw him lose the full-back and get a cross in but this was deflected. Chesterfield's greater second-half application was epitomised by their retaining possession for Westcarr to shoot over on 61.
Walsall replaced the tiring Macken with Grigg on 62
A terrific Morgan ball on 68 set Lester free, momentarily, in the box. The slightest of tugs on his shirt was enough to put him off balance, though, and the ball was cleared to Allott; before the midfielder could do anything with it Taundry's awful lunge brought him down and earned a booking for the Walsall man. Westcarr's free kick cleared the bar.
Bowery replaced Westcarr on 70. It was perhaps a bit harsh on him, but changes had to be made.A Whitaker shot clipped the crossbar on its way out; the Spireites were edging closer to an equaliser.
Obadeyi replaced Morgan on 78, to a chorus of critical boos aimed at the decision, rather than the player, who had enjoyed a game of determination and influence. Halliday replaced Paterson at the same time. Obadeyi did what he was brought on for - using his pace, he beat Sadler and crossed, and the ball was headed out for a corner. From this, Mendy took the short ball into the box before shooting narrowly wide. The two players combined moments later when Mendy drove an Obadeyi cross goalwards, only to see Walker fall on it.
Chesterfield were hammering on the door, now, but the visitors kept it resolutely shut. Bowerman replaced Westlake 86 and Walker was eventually booked for timewasting. Having been booked for delaying a goal kick, he stopped to exchange pleasantries with the crowd and pull his socks up before finally launching the ball up the field.
In the last minute, Walsall's defence creaked, and cracked. A Whitaker shot from a Mendy pass was blocked; it came to JACK LESTER who, this time, capitalised on momentarily looser marking and manufactured a yard to turn, control and fire the ball home. Four minutes' added time was played out without another major scare in the visitors' goalmouth.