Chesterfield played 89 minutes with ten men and were beaten by two Joe Garner goals as they lost 0-2 to Preston North End
Defender Sam Hird was shown red after just 90 seconds as he was ruled to have brought down Garner on the edge of the area when the front man was through on goal.
Garner then fired the visitors into the lead when he met a delightful Kevin Davies devliery midway through the first-half to give Preston the advantage.
Despite a battling Spireites playing their part in the game, Garner sealed the win late on when he reacted quickest to head home from four yards out.
The Spireites were hoping to build on their impressive Saturday away victory at Notts County as fellow play-off incumbents Preston North End visited Derbyshire, with familiar faces not hard to come by, the duo of Davies and ex-loanee Daniel Johnson returning to the Proact to face their former club.
Chesterfield took on the policy that attack was the best form of defence in the early stages, but when Jay O’Shea’s inch-perfect free-kick was met by Hird on the volley, he dragged his effort inches wide.
Hird continued to be in the thick of the action, as from going close at one end, he was then heading back to the dressing room as he received his marching orders. A long through ball by Johnson was latched on to by Garner on his return from injury, only for Hird to pull the forward down on the edge of the area, with referee Peter Bankes issuing an instant red card.
The resulting set-piece saw Johnson fizz an effort towards Tommy Lee’s right-hand corner, but the Spireites’ number one was able to paw the effort away, Paul Gallagher heading over the rebound.
It was the combination of Gallagher and Garner that was troubling Chesterfield in the early stages, and this time it was the woodwork which came to Paul Cook’s side’s rescue, as Garner met Gallagher’s corner with a firm header, but the post was there to deny the striker.
Despite the Spireites holding their own for 25 minutes with ten men, North End did take the lead through Garner, as Davies found room on the right before delivering a sensational ball in to Preston’s top goal scorer, who headed past Lee.
The Lilywhites looked to capitalise on the extra man and put the contest to bed before the half was out, but a fierce Laird drive was matched impressively by Lee, with the stopper palming the shot wide of the goal.
Chesterfield still posed a threat to the Preston goal as the Spireites continued to attempt to play in their passing style, with Tendayi Darikwa bombing forward from the full-back position, but O’Shea’s header following his cross narrowly missed the target.
A feisty affair continued to entertain after the break, and following on from a couple of near opportunities for Preston, Morsy manoeuvred enough room to let fly from range, only for his cannonball to be saved well by Sam Johnstone in the Preston goal.
As the minutes went by the game was notably becoming more and more stretched, and with more gaps appearing in the Chesterfield back line, Garner was released behind the Chesterfield defence but his effort from a tight angle was beaten away.
Cook’s side were testing the 11 men of Preston at every opportunity, and for all their endeavour, they were inches away from levelling the scores, as the ball scrambled around in the Lilywhites’ area before Caolan Lavery stabbed at goal, but his poked effort was just off target.
Garner had been troubling the centre half pairing of Ian Evatt and Charlie Raglan all evening, and if it was not for a stunning acrobatic Lee save from the Preston forward’s header the result could have been wrapped up.
However, the points were sealed from the resulting corner as after Lee was adjudged to have been challenged in the air fairly, Davies pounced first to flick on to the bar, only for Garner to follow up the effort and tap into an empty net.
Chesterfield: Lee (gk) - Darikwa, Evatt (c), Hird, Jones (Raglan 5’) - Morsy, Ryan, O’Shea, Clucas - Harrison (Duffy 68), Lavery (Dieseruvwe 68’)
Subs not used: Chapman (gk), Ariyibi, Banks, Humphreys
Preston North End: Johnstone (gk) - Laird, Clarke (c), Wiseman (Humphrey 70’), Huntington, Welsh - Wright, Johnson (Kilkenny 89’), Gallagher - Davies, Garner (Ebanks-Blake 84’)
Subs not used: Stuckmann (gk), Buchanan, Reid, King
Preston North End: Garner 30', 79'
Attendance: 6,309 (458 away supporters)