The performance warranted far more than the one goal, but the Spireites earned a fourth successive win with a 1-0 victory over Crewe Aexandra.Tendayi Darikwa scored his first goal of the season midway through the first half on a beautiful Derbyshire day at the Proact, ghosting in at the far post to loop a header past Paul Rachubka in the Alex goal.
Chesterfield dominated proceedings from then on coming close on multiple occasions, including a Jay O’Shea strike which rattled the woodwork, but Darikwa's goal was enough to claim the three points.
High stakes was the theme at the Proact Stadium on Easter Monday as two sides who held different hopes were on display, with Chesterfield and Crewe Alexandra occupying league positions at either end of the table.
The Spireites made a promising start to the contest with tricky winger Gboly Ariyibi causing problems for the Alex defence early on, but after his marauding run created an opening, he could only lash the ball over the bar from 18 yards.
Chesterfield maintained their pressure on Rachubka’s goal and it was again Ariyibi threatening, as this time once he peeled away at the back post, his close-range effort was saved brilliantly before the influential Gary Roberts took aim from the penalty spot, only for his goal-bound volley to be blocked.
Crewe boss Steve Davis would have been anticipating a reaction following the Railwaymen’s poor start to the game, and the visitors nearly unjustly opened the scoring when Watford-loanee Uche Ikpeazu raced clear of the Spireites defence, but Tommy Lee was on hand to deny the big forward with his legs.
Ikpeazu’s opportunity appeared to lift Crewe as they began to grow in confidence, and this confidence was definitely instilled into striker Lauri Dalla Valle as he eloquently attempted a sensational acrobatic effort, but with Lee beaten, the Spireites number one was thankful to see the ball land just wide.
However not long after Dalla Valle’s effort, the net did ripple, and it was the play-off chasing Chesterfield who broke the deadlock through the unlikely source of Darikwa, as following neat footwork by Roberts on the left, he was able to dig out a cross towards the back post, and Darikwa was on hand to steer a looping header into the back of the net.
With Chesterfield tails up, the free-flowing football from Paul Cook’s men was cutting Alex open at will, and after Sam Clucas nicked the ball away from Jamie Jones, his driving run resulted in an effort from the edge of the area, but Rachubka got down well to smother the ball.
Midway through the first half, Roberts was superbly denied by an Alan Tate block, and this time the Liverpudlian went even closer as he latched onto O’Shea’s through ball, and after the attacker appeared to slot past the goalkeeper, Jamie Ness was there to scramble off the line.
Despite Chesterfield’s first-half dominance, Crewe were still showing signs of a goal threat occasionally on the break, and it was that man Ikpeazu again with the chance, as he swivelled in the area to strike narrowly off target.
As the interval approached, Chesterfield could and perhaps should have doubled their lead, as following O’Shea’s deep corner kick, Drew Talbot stole a run on his man and from point black range, he could only side-foot the delivery over the crossbar.
After a blistering start to the first period by the Spireites, they began the second in the same fashion continuing their pursuit of all three points at the crunch end of the season, and Sam Hird nearly helped Chesterfield further on their way to the points when he met a Roberts cross, but he was unable to guide his header beyond Rachubka.
O’Shea proved to be the match-winner in the Spireites’ last outing against Yeovil Town, and the Irishman nearly sealed the match when substitute Dan Gardner dropped the ball off on the edge of the area, but O’Shea’s curling shot struck the inside of the post before falling to safety.
O’Shea was in the thick of it yet again moments later, as lax Crewe possession play around their own penalty area allowed Sam Morsy to dispossess Jones, but once Morsy slipped in O’Shea, his teasing ball across the face of the six-yard box went astray.
A persistent Chesterfield continued in their bombardment of the Alex goal with Clucas this time being the man who came within inches of finding the net, but after the makeshift forward cut onto his favoured left boot, his drive somehow swerved into the stands.
Despite the second goal not arriving for the Spireites, Paul Cook’s men were able to see off a late push from Crewe, and take home all three points which stands them in good stead for the final play-off push, with just five games now remaining.
Chesterfield: Lee (gk), Talbot, Evatt, Hird, Darikwa, Ryan, Morsy (c), Ariyibi (Gardner 73'), Roberts (Humphreys 89'), O'Shea, Clucas.
Subs: Flatt, Raglan, Banks, Harrison, Gnanduillet
Crewe Alexandra: Rachubka (gk), Davis (c), Turton, Atkinson, Inman (Haber 89'), Dalla Valle, Jones (Colclough 65'), Ness, Tate, Ikpeazu (Ajose 73')
Subs: Guthrie, Ray, Stewart, Nolan
Chesterfield: Darikwa (26')
Attendance: 6,942 (389 away supporters)