Chesterfield ran out comfortable 3-0 winners against Port Vale on Ernie Moss Day at the Proact Stadium, staying right on the play-off trail.
With the Spireites legend watching on, the current breed of Blues put in a commanding performance to ease past the Valiants visitors.
Armand Gnanduillet gave the Spireites an early lead after he nodded home Romy Boco’s cross to the far post. Eoin Doyle then scored his 22nd goal of the season from the penalty spot after he was brought down on the hour mark.
Charlie Raglan rounded off an impressive performance as he rose to meet Jay O’Shea’s corner and power the ball home for his first Spireites goal.
With just goal difference separating the two teams at the kick off, Spireites boss Paul Cook named an unchanged starting eleven from the side that came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Scunthorpe on Tuesday.
The visitors, having won three of their last four matches, started brightly with Dany N’Guessan finding space on the left wing. His low left-footed cross was dealt with by Charlie Raglan and the Spireites broke away to the other end with the final ball just evading Doyle’s run.
Gnanduillet, after putting in an impressive performance in the win at Port Vale earlier this season, looked to impose himself early on. After Sam Clucas ran down the left, the Ivorian drove into the box before going to ground, the referee was unmoved.
The whole stadium united in applause in the eighth minute in tribute to Chesterfield legend and former Port Vale striker, Ernie Moss. Moss is the Spireites all-time leading goal scorer and also netted 23 times for Vale.
The rousing cheers clearly inspired the current Spireite players who immediately upped the tempo, repeatedly driving into final third. The deadlock was broken just moments later as Boco crossed the ball in from the left wing straight into the path of Gnanduillet who calmly headed it home to give the Spireites the lead.
As Port Vale looked to get back into the game they started to enjoy more of the ball with their first real chance falling to Louis Dodds. The striker got in front of Tendayi Darikwa on the edge of the six-yard box and headed towards goal but the defender applied enough pressure and the chance came to nothing.
Mark Marshall, who scored for Vale in the first meeting of the clubs back in August, looked bright on the ball and eager to move it forward, but after half an hour Tommy Lee’s goal remained unthreatened.
Halfway through the first period Gnanduillet got his second good chance of the game. After Doyle had charged down a Vale clearance the ball fell to Gary Roberts who laid it off to the Chesterfield goal scorer. After twisting and turning on the edge of the six-yard box, he got a shot away but 'keeper Chris Neal got down low to make a smart save.
The two players combined again during the next Chesterfield attacking move, this time the Ivorian laid the ball off to Roberts who curled a shot just wide of the keeper’s right-hand post from 20 yards out.
The midfielder was once again having an excellent first half for the Spireites, with his quick feet proving too much for the Vale midfield in the opening exchanges.
It was the battle for the midfield that led to the end of the first half getting fractious, with numerous free-kicks breaking up play.
The Spireites did have a golden opportunity to double their lead towards the end of the half. Clucas laid the ball off to Gnanduillet who turned and slid it to Boco in the six-yard box. The winger had acres of space but he was quickly closed down and his shot was blocked.
The Spireites started the second half with the same intensity that they had shown during the first 45 minutes. An early chance fell to Doyle but the Irishman’s shot was charged down inside the box. The league’s top scorer was just inches away from adding to his tally just moments later as Sam Morsy’s whipped cross flew just above his head.
Vale, having made a half-time substitution, looked to get a foothold in the game after being outplayed for the majority of the first half. They won a flurry of corners, with Marshall providing their greatest attacking threat but without creating a clear chance.
Just 15 minutes into the second half, Chesterfield scored again to double their advantage. Doyle burst free down the left and cut inside the box before being felled by newly-signed defender Frederic Veseli. The referee didn’t hesitate in pointing to the spot and the Irishman stepped up to score his 18th league goal of the season, curling the ball into the top corner.
From then on it was all Chesterfield for the next ten minutes as the home side looked to put the game beyond the reach of the visitors. Cook made two changes, with O’Shea and Jimmy Ryan coming on for the final 30 minutes.
Ryan made an immediate impact after missing the last four games with a groin injury. He held his position on the edge of the area and when the ball fell to him he drove a low shot just past the post. Seconds later, O’Shea turned back and forth inside the box but his eventual shot lacked the power to beat Neal who put it out for a corner.
It was from the resulting corner that the Spireites put the game beyond doubt as Raglan rose highest to power a header past the stranded Vale keeper. The home side were cruising at 3-0 much to the delight of the on-song home support.
Port Vale began to push further forward, desperately looking for a way back into the game. They came close to getting it with 15 minutes left to play as Ben Williamson’s shot crashed off Lee’s crossbar and away to safety. With the luck going the way of the home side it seemed like it would be the Spireites’ day.
Cook made his final substitution with Dan Garner replacing Gnanduillet who had put in another impressive performance for The Blues. The Chesterfield substitutes all looked sharp as the home side showed no signs of fatigue despite their hectic schedule in recent weeks. O’Shea was dangerous running at the heart of the Vale defence and then spreading the ball to the flanks.
The away side did have chances to get on the score sheet but they were largely half-chances that fell to players on the edge of the box. First Lee saved smartly from Williamson and then substitute Colin Daniel sliced wide under little pressure.
In the closing minutes the Spireites brought the game under control and saw out the added time to seal their victory.
Chesterfield: Lee (gk) – Darikwa, Hird, Raglan, Clucas – Boco (O’Shea 63’), Morsy (c), Humphreys (Ryan 63’), Roberts – Gnanduillet (Gardner 76’), Doyle
Subs not used: Wright, Jones, Talbot, Dieseruvwe
Port Vale: Neal (gk) – Yates, Veseli, Duffy, Dickinson – Marshall, O’Connor, Brown (Lines 56’), N’Guessan (Daniel 45’) – Dodds (Campion 64’), Williamson
Subs not used: Robertson, Birchall, Lloyd, Moore
Chesterfield – Gnanduillet 13’, Doyle 60’, Raglan 70’
Attendance: 7,034 (1,087 away fans)