Chesterfield drew 1-1 with Newport County as the hosts were left to rue missed chances after conceding a late equaliser.
A goal just after half time from Jimmy Ryan seemed to have put the Spireites on their way to victory, but they had to settle for just a point when Max Porter levelled for the Exiles with only seven minutes to go.
A rainy morning finally gave way to a cloudy and windy afternoon as the teams kicked off at the Proact. Newport were the first to go close when striker Shaun Jeffers cut inside and curled a shot just wide of ‘keeper Tommy Lee’s far post.
The Spireites were struggling to impose themselves on the game, not helped by Ian Evatt having to leave the field for a number of minutes with blood coming from a cut mouth.
With their captain back in the fray Chesterfield began to find their feet and 20 minutes in Jay O’Shea went the closest yet when connecting with a half volley that dropped a foot wide of Ian McLoughlin’s upright.
Almost immediately Jeffers again threatened for the Exiles, his powerful drive forcing Lee into a fine full-length save to keep the scores level.
It was proving to be a scrappy affair half an hour in, but the home side were showing glimpses of promise and may have opened the scoring had Danny Kearns’ central 25-yard strike been half a yard lower.
With both teams playing a direct style the match was high on competitiveness but low on quality, not helped by the return of the rain just before the break.
There was time however for Gary Roberts to break forwards, though his cross was just too high for Eoin Doyle. The ball then breaking to Sam Morsy who hesitated before shooting and saw his effort blocked.
On the stroke of the interval O’Shea played a ball through to Jimmy Ryan, clear of the last man though at an angle, but unfortunately the midfielder’s was shot dragged past the far post. There were at least encouraging signs for the home fans as they ducked down for their half time Bovrils.
Within a minute of the restart Newport had the opportunity to edge their noses in front, Lee Minshull heading well over when well placed six yards out.
There wasn’t long to wait for a Spireites response, who scored with their next attack. From a corner Ryan received the ball and looked to dink a cross to Roberts at the back post. His cross was slightly over-hit, but with the ‘keeper back peddling the ball looped over him and nestled in the back of the net.
It was Ryan’s second league goal of the campaign and just the stroke of luck Chesterfield had been looking for.
Two minutes later and it could have been another. Roberts cut the ball back to O’Shea rampaging into the box from the wing. The Irishman beat his man but also the far post with the home fans expectantly out of their seats.
O’Shea then went close again, this time collecting a pass from Doyle and making Newport ‘keeper McLoughlin dive athletically to his left to keep his shot out.
By now there was only one team in it and Chesterfield once more nearly claimed a second when Morsy found Doyle through on goal. The striker finished neatly, but saw his effort ruled out for offside. It was the same story barely a minute later when Roberts crossed and Kearns slotted home, but the on-loan midfielder’s celebrations were also cut short by the assistant’s flag.
Midway through the second half and it was O’Shea again central to the Spireites attacking play. This time his 22-yard shot was some way over and bot troubling the ‘keeper.
Chesterfield were looking comfortable with their lead, though it was still a narrow one. Marc Richards replaced the tireless Doyle up front as the home side pushed for a goal to double their advantage.
A pile-driver from Morsy was blocked by Newport defender Ismail Yakubu who despite his imposing size was nearly flattened by the pace of the strike.
The second should have arrived with less than ten minutes remaining when Ryan played a ball over to Richards. However, with just the ‘keeper to beat his attempted lob lacked height and was claimed by McLoughlin.
Sixty seconds later Newport made the hosts pay with an equaliser. The ball was worked out to Max Porter 20-yards from goal and he was able to calmly place a low shot past Lee to level the scores.
The Spireites now needed to chase the game again and Tendayi Darikwa shot wild and over when fed by Morsy.
The fourth official signalled for five additional minutes to be played and Ritchie Humphreys went closest for the Spireites as he tried and failed to connect with a cross from a corner inside the six yard box.
The result leaves Chesterfield only three points clear of Fleetwood in fourth place, with five games left to play in Sky Bet League Two this season.
Chesterfield: Lee; Darikwa, Evatt (c), Cooper, Humphreys; Ryan, Morsy, Kearns (Hird 73'), O'Shea (Bennett 86'), Roberts; Doyle (Richards 76').
Subs not used: Dunbavin, Smith, Gardner, Gnanduillet.
Newport County AFC: McLoughlin; Hughes, Porter, Yakubu, Minshull (Naylor 85'), Zebroski (Jolley 64'), Willmott, Jeffers (Howe 64'), Flynn (c), Jackson, Feely.
Subs not used: Pipe, Sandell, Burge, Holloway.
Chesterfield - Ryan 49'
Newport County AFC - Porter 82'
Attendance: 5,659 (203 Newport County AFC)