Chesterfield pushed themselves ever closer to automatic Sky Bet League 2 promotion with a nervy but crucial 1-0 win away at Dagenham & Redbridge.
Eoin Doyle scored the only goal of the game in the first half and despite second half pressure the visitors were able to hold on to claim all three valuable points.
An impressive away following welcomed the Spireites onto the pitch, in full voice and hoping to see their side take a large step towards automatic promotion.
An early sighter for the home side came within three minutes when Luke Norris controlled a volley that flew wide of Tommy Lee’s near post. Eoin Doyle was then sent running through by Marc Richards, but was tackled inside the area.
Both sides were still battling for the midfield 15 minutes in, while Spireites full-back Nathan Smith was able to come in off the left wing and blast in a shot that easily cleared the crossbar.
Chesterfield were starting to win the second balls and after two crosses only narrowly missed their targets in the middle, Tendayi Darikwa had a shot blocked just inside the box.
The visitors broke the deadlock on 28 minutes, when Darikwa’s persistence near the right byline saw the ball deflect up and back into the danger zone, straight to Doyle who volleyed home his 13th goal of the season from eight yards.
Dagenham moved onto the front foot in their quest for an equalizer, but Liam Cooper and Ian Evatt were marshalling the visiting defence with authority. Blair Turgott fired a long range shot for the hosts that was straight at ‘keeper Lee.
The Daggers still pushing, Medy Elito looked to have made his way through the Spireites rearguard with a storming run, but Darikwa was on hand to make a vital challenge just as the midfielder was shaping to shoot.
Dan Gardner then fired a shot some way over the target as Chesterfield went in at the interval a goal to the good.
The second half started with the Spireites under an extended spell of pressure. A dangerous Lawson D’Ath centre resulted in a scramble only ended by the referee awarding the away side a freekick for a foul inside the six yard box.
At the other end Marc Richards turned his man in the box and swerved in a left yard strike that couldn’t quite curl back inside the far post for what would have been a stunning second goal.
Chesterfield had now loosened up and were on top of the game again. A magnificent Darikwa run from his own half saw the right-back deep inside the area. He played the ball back to Danny Kearns, but the on-loan man could only fire at Daggers ‘keeper Jordan Seabright.
Dagenham still looked dangerous, and only a point-blank block could keep away Brian Saah’s volley when the ball fell to the captain in the Chesterfield box.
The nerves could have been settled considerably had Richards doubled the Spireites lead when fed by Doyle, but his stretching volley instead rolled agonizingly wide.
A frantic minute then followed. Sheer tenacity from the returning Jimmy Ryan fed the ball through to Gary Roberts, whose low cross was met by Danny Kearns- only a sprawling Seabright save could avert a Chesterfield second. Seconds later the home side broke and Norris had a free header that he could only put tamely wide.
The Daggers were piling on the pressure again, with the Chesterfield clearances becoming increasingly rushed. However, with his last touch before being substituted Richards nearly gave his side breathing space, his 20-yard blast only just dipping over the bar.
Counting down to the three points, with five minutes remaining the away side were showing more composure, no more so than the experienced Roberts, jinking his way down the left touchline and winning his side a corner.
Into the four minutes of added on time and Chesterfield were breathing more easily and retaining possession. Even so, the referee’s final whistle was greeted with cheers as much of relief as triumph, promotion edging ever closer.
The importance of the victory was underlined by the other promotion hunters all winning. But thanks to their gritty performance the Spireites remain second and with their fate firmly in their own hands.
Dagenham & Redbridge: Seabright; Ilesanmi, Saah (c), Bingham (Shields 58’), Elito; D’Ath, Saunders (Howell 85’), Hoyte, Gayle; Turgott (Obafemi 58’), Norris.
Subs not used: Lewington, Wilkinson, Ogogo, Connors.
Chesterfield: Lee; Darikwa, Evatt (c), Cooper, Smith; Gardner (Roberts 62’), Ryan, Hird, Kearns (O’Shea 71’); Richards (Gnanduillet 79’), Doyle.
Subs not used: Dunbavin, Togwell, Humphreys, Beesley.
Dagenham & Redbridge: N/A
Chesterfield: Doyle 28’
Attendance: 1,801 (533 Chesterfield)