Chesterfield made two changes to the side that was held at home by Oldham last Monday. New signing Liam Ridehalgh came in for a debut at left-back, with Gregor Robertson moving to centre-half in place of Simon Ford. Jack Lester came back into the side, taking the place of Nathan Smith, whose midfield berth was filled by Craig Westcarr's move from the forward line.
Exeter came with a firm defence built around the impressive Archibald-Henville and a competitive and creative midfield servicing mobile forwards, and while they didn't clearly hold the upper hand in the first half-hour, the Spireites were unable to cause them too much trouble.
Sercombe shot wide on 6 after Noble advanced through a hole in Chesterfield's midfield. Bowery won a corner off Archibald-Henville AND Trotman won the header from Whitaker's corner but the ball was cleared for another corner; this was worked short to Allott, but his first touch uncharacteristically let him down.
The visitors had a scare on 9 minutes when Krysiak leant back and got both palms to a Ridehalgh cross, with the greatest danger appearing to be to his own goal. Exeter resumed the attack and Talbot and Allott had to block efforts from Nardiello and Dunne.
A Dunne handball was missed as he burst through the Chesterfield midfield and it took the conclusive intervention of Trotman to clear the danger at the expense of a corner, which Lee held easily. Lee had to be on his mettle on 22 to deny Logan; the ball came to the Exeter man at the back post from a cross and Lee, diving to his right to cover the post, stuck out his left foot to turn the ball out for a corner.
Ridehalgh's deflected shot produced a Chesterfield corner on 26. Westcarr was injured in the build-up to this and, while he waited to resume after treatment, Trotman met the flag kick with his head but the ball fell kindly for Krysiak. Bowery fed Lester in the box and Jack turned, but saw Krysiak make a smart one-handed save.
Westcarr was replaced by Niven on 31. The enforced changes gave the home side a better shape and, with Niven's extra combative play, Chesterfield enjoyed their best spell of the game. Changes in the wake of Westcarr's departure forced Bowery out wider, though, and it became more difficult for Lester to work alone up front. So, decent chances were at a premium, with a deflected Lester shot on 44 being the only other one of note before the interval.
Halftime: 0-0. Attendance: 5,856 (309 from Exeter.)
Chesterfield appeared to make more subtle changes to their shape, with Mendy pushing well up from right midfield and the side taking on a 4-3-3 look. Chesterfield's defence seemed steady enough and they had a measured, patient approach going forward, but Exeter seemed happy with this, and were content for now to bank up two rows of four in opposition.
The Grecians looked dangerous on the break, although Nardiello shot wastefully wide after Archibald-Henville broke with ball from his own penalty area line on 54. Lester paid the ball back towards Niven on 55 but a Noble tackle caused the Chesterfield man to force his effort over the bar. Niven did similar in his own defence on 58, forcing Nardiello's cross out for a corner, and it took a brave Robertson block to deny the Exeter man after he gave Talbot the slip and cut inside on the hour mark. The ball was nearly diverted past Lee by one of his own defenders on 62 but Tommy got down to save on the line.
Allott was booked for an attack-preventing body-check on Sercombe in his own half, on 67.
The game swung on the 72nd-minute award of a penalty to Chesterfield. Niven and Whitaker combined to set Lester free in the box but he was pulled down from behind by Duffy. Whitaker took the kick but hit it weakly to the keeper's left, and he was able to save with ease. It was Whitaker's first miss in twelve "in-game" attempts and although home heads didn't drop, it served to inspire the visitors to step up a gear. Archibald-Henville forced the ball into the net but was booked for protesting about an award of "hands" against him, on 75. Three minutes later Exeter took the lead when Logan headed a Dunne cross in from close range, unchallenged.
The Grecians made a double-substitution on 83 when Coles and O'Flynn replaced Duffy and Nardiello Chesterfield responded by bringing Scott Boden on for Mendy and by replacing Allott with Smith in central midfield with five minutes left. The change didn't work, and when Smith failed to clear on the edge of his own box only a minute or so after coming on, Sercombe fired a shot that went past the diving Lee to double Exeter's lead.
In response, Boden came close in stoppage time, taking a Niven pass to fire narrowly over. It was a measure of Exeter's understated control that this was probably the closest Chesterfield had got, in second half open play.