The Spireites bow out of the Capital One Cup at the hands of Leeds United, but can be delighted with the way they competed against the Championship outfit.
A goal from Irishman Eoin Doyle put the Spireites ahead, but two goals in two minutes from Michael Brown and Dominic Poleon ultimately gave Leeds the victory.
This was the first time the two sides had met for 63 years, and the visitors had never beaten their Yorkshire opponents at Elland Road.
The Spireites named the same side that finished the game with Bury on Saturday, but it was Yorkshire side that started on top. Former Oldham man Matt Smith nodded the ball down for Poleon to hit wide in the first minute.
Smith should have put Leeds ahead straight after. The tall front-man had acres of room in the box, but the ball wouldn’t sit for him, and the chance went begging.
Chesterfield then started to settle into the game and through Tendayi Darikwa and Gary Roberts, they started to look a threat in the final third.
The Spireites deservedly took the lead in the 17th minute through a superb flowing move. Some crisp passing in midfield saw the ball played out wide to captain Drew Talbot. The versatile defender whipped a beautiful ball into the box, finding the unmarked Doyle to rifle past former Sheffield United goalkeeper Paddy Kenny.
The Spireites started to dictate the play, and a run from Roberts set up Jimmy Ryan to blast a shot from 25 yards, but the Leeds United goalkeeper held the shot.
Instigator Roberts played a ball that found Ryan in the centre, just before the half hour mark, but the ball didn’t have the pace to beat Kenny.
A minute after the chance at one end, Michael Brown levelled the scores for Leeds at the other. The ball fell to Brown, 25 yards out, and the midfielder rocketed the ball past Lee to equalise for the home side.
Two minutes after the leveller, Leeds took an undeserved lead. Ryan Edwards’s poor pass was dispossessed by Poleon, and the striker ran from the half-way line to fire past a helpless Lee.
Despite Leeds taking the lead, Chesterfield still dominated the possession. Darikwa really should have levelled the scores with ten minutes of the first half remaining. Roberts’ through ball saw Darikwa race through and take the ball past Kenny, but Pearce recovered on the line and cleared the danger.
As the fourth official announced a minimum of one additional minute, Sam Hird nearly inadvertently put past his own goal, but the ball flew out for a corner, that was eventually cleared.
Chesterfield kicked off the second half, and started it the same as the first. They dominated possession, comfortably knocking the ball around with ease.
An early free-kick tested the Leeds defence. Roberts, who was causing havoc within the Leeds backline, was brought down on the edge of the box and Ryan’s free-kick was blocked by a Whites defender.
Just after the hour mark, Darikwa, who had looked dangerous all night, was replaced by Irishman Jay O’Shea.
Soon after, Doyle looked to found a gap in the Leeds defence, but the linesman flagged the forward for offside.
Leeds should really have put the game beyond doubt on the 66th minute. Substitute Ross McCormack delivered a teasing ball into the box; Smith latched onto the end of it, but couldn’t guide his header on target.
Smith, again, was denied by the Spireites stopper minutes later. Nathan Smith lost possession in the area, but his namesake couldn’t capitalise on the chance.
Spireites midfielder Ryan was booked on the 68th minute for a foul, which resulted in a Leeds free-kick in a dangerous position, but the ball was eventually cleared.
Armand Gnanduillet was introduced for the Spireites upfront in place of goal-scorer Doyle.
With 15 minutes of the game remaining, Lee produced two sublime saves to keep Chesterfield in the cup-tie. He palmed away a Luke Murphy attempt, and minutes later, he saved at the feet of Poleon, to keep the Spireites still a goal behind.
Chesterfield’s third, and final substitution of the game saw the introduction of Marc Richards, in the place of experienced pro, Richie Humphreys.
The Spireites threw caution to the wind and attacked Leeds’ defence. After promising play in the middle, the ball found its way wide to Talbot. He cut in from the right wing, but his shot was easily
saved by Kenny.
After a flurry of attacks, the ball fell to Jimmy Ryan, he hit an effort from around 25 yards late on, but Kenny was equal to the effort.
With time running out, Chesterfield had one final chance. Some good workup play in the middle found its way out wide to Smith. The defender cut inside and hit a shot with his weaker foot, which smashed off the post, and unfortunately for the Spireites, out of play.
After all the pressure and dominance however, Chesterfield couldn’t eventually find the equaliser, but Paul Cook’s men can be delighted with how they played.
Played in-front of 17,466 fans, the Spireites are out of the Capital One Cup, but they can be encouraged by their performance against the Championship outfit.