Two differently brilliant first-half goals saw the Spireites to a thrilling and deserved 2-1 win at Priestfield in a fantastic away performance.The Spireites struck on 37 minutes when some classic Gboly Ariyibi wingplay made space on the right and he produced a low ball asking to be put away; Sylvan Ebanks-Blake there to do just that.
After Ollie Banks cleared a Gills shot off the line it got better for the Spireites when before the break Lee Novak pulled out a 30-yard screamer from the very top drawer to give the visitors a two-goal half time lead.
The Spireites held firm until the 81st minute when Emmanuel Osadebe set up a grandstand finale with a header, though strong rearguard action confirmed the win for the visitors.
The game was barely a minute old when the Gills had the first chance. Rory Donnelly flicked the ball over the top for Dominic Samuel, but he made a hash of his effort, volleying wide when in one-on-one.
It was clear the home side wanted an early goal, and again they found themselves in behind the new Spireites’ back line. The lively Donnelly played it across but Lee gathered a looping deflection right on the line.
Both sides were looking dangerous as they settled into the game with Chesterfield asking questions of their hosts’ defence. The Spireites were posing a threat from set pieces, but couldn’t find the finishing touch.
The visitors were arguably the better of the two sides, and thought they had taken the lead midway through the first half. Connor Dimaio fed Lee Novak in on goal, but, the striker’s effort was chalked off for an offside.
However, it was Gillingham who next came closest to breaking the deadlock. Aaron Morris headed a Bradley Dack corner into the feet of Max Ehmer, he swivelled on the spot and fired a low shot which was blocked on the line.
Donnelly then saw a well-hit volley caught by Lee as they looked to regain control. Yet, it was the Spireites who took the lead 10 minutes before the break. Gboly Ariyibi superbly beat two Gills defenders on the right and played the perfect low ball across for Sylvan Ebanks-Blake to control and tap in from a yard out for his tenth of the season.
The home side came straight back at the Spireites, though. First Osadebe’s shot was blocked by his own man, before Adam El-Abd’s was deflected behind. Samuel then flashed a shot wide moments before the Spireites struck again.
On the stroke of half-time a chipped ball over the top found Banks, he played in Novak who did the rest, teeing the ball up before firing an unstoppable strike into the roof of the net from 25 yards.
The Gills started the second half just as they did the first, carving out opportunities from the off. Osadebe’s header was well caught by Lee, before Samuel’s header drew a top-class diving save from Lee when a goal looked certain.
Chesterfield were struggling to get a hold on the game, and Lee was forced into another fine save to prevent substitute Bradley Garmston’s cross from sailing into the far corner.
The visitors were given a rare sight of goal when Novak was played in on the right, but he dragged his effort wide of the far post.
The Gills’ fans were beginning to voice their frustration, and it was getting to the players, as Banks almost caught out Stuart Nelson with a cheeky lob from the byline which went just wide.
It was all Gillingham as they looked to forge their way back into it, but the Spireites’ defence was standing firm.
Lee again was on hand to keep out the home side, this time spilling a low Luke Norris drive round the post.
It was real backs to the wall stuff from the Spireites, all 11 men were camped inside their own penalty area.
However, they did find chances on the break. Lee Novak held it up before the ball eventually found Declan John who hit a rasping drive just wide.
Yet at the other end, the Spireites’ defence was finally broken through. Donnelly drew Lee out of position, Jackson put over a cross and Osadebe did the rest, heading through a crowd of bodies on the line to halve the deficit.
At the other end John broke away and crossed low for Novak, but he couldn’t get the all-important touch.
It was end-to-end stuff now, with Donnelly missing a header at point-blank range that would have completed the comeback.
The Gills threw everyone forward, with Talbot showing his acrobatic side as the game was balanced on a knife edge.
However, after a nerve-jangling last few moments in which either side could have scored, the Spireites held on, claiming a priceless three points against the side who had started the day in third place.
Gillingham: Nelson (gk) - Jackson, Ehmer, El-Abd, Samuel (Norris 63'), Morris, Osadebe, Donnelly, Dack (Williams 32'), Chicksen (Garmston 46'), Wiright (c)
Subs not used: Morris (gk), Hessenthaler, Oldaker, List
Chesterfield - Lee (gk) - John, Hird (c), Anderson, Talbot - Novak, Banks (O'Shea 83'), O'Neil, Dimaio, Ariyibi - Ebanks-Blake (Donohue 67')
Subs not used: Chapman (gk), Gardner, Humphreys, Simons, Slew
Gillingham: Osadebe 81'
Chesterfield: Ebanks-Blake 37', Novak 45'
Attendance: 6,012 (199 away fans)