A sublime free-kick in the second-half from Louis Read was not enough for the Spireites as they fell to a disappointing 2-1 defeat against Port Vale at Vale Park on Friday afternoon.
A rather uneventful first half at Vale Park exploded just before half time, as Vale midfielder Danny Pugh gave his side the lead before being sent off just moments later.
The Spireites did not take long to make their numerical advantage count in the second half as Reed curled home a free-kick. However, substitute Ben Whitfield claimed all three points for 10-man Vale in the 82nd minute with a curling strike.
Spireites manager Jack Lester opted to name an unchanged starting line-up for this match following the impressive 3-1 win at home to Notts County last weekend.
The first big opportunity of the game fell the way of the hosts, but top scorer Tom Pope, who had just returned from injury, could only head David Worrall’s cross wide of the target.
Despite a strong start from Vale, the Spireites were inches away from taking the lead in the 16th minute. Zavon Hines shrugged off a challenge from Charlie Raglan before unleashing a shot that was tipped onto the post by Ryan Boot.
Aaron Ramsdale was being regularly tested in the Chesterfield goal throughout the first half. He first kept out Cristian Montano’s curling effort with relative ease before having to get down quick to push Luke Hannant’s low drive around the post just moments later.
The combination of Worrall and Pope caused the Spireites problems again before half-time. Worrall’s cross was met by Pope who headed back across goal towards Tyrone Barnett. The 32-year-old forward forced a good save from Ramsdale before the offside flag was eventually raised by the linesman.
However, the home side did take the lead just moments before half-time in the 43rd minute. Worrall was the architect as he found space down the right wing and his cross was converted from close range by Pugh.
The 35-year-old’s euphoria did not last for long though. He was sent off by referee Tony Harrington just moments after he gave his side the lead for a strong challenge on Jacob Brown.
It did not take the Spireites long to make their numerical advantage count following the restart as they equalised in the 56th minute. Reed curled a free-kick from the edge of the area into the top corner to send the travelling supporters into delirium.
The home side did not let their heads drop after being pegged back and could have retaken the lead in the 65th minute. Montano drove into space down the left wing before his cross was dealt with by Reed as he diverted it behind for a corner.
Another chance went begging for the hosts in the 73rd minute. Montano’s low driven cross found Pope in the area but he failed to connect properly.
This was shortly followed by Chesterfield’s best opportunity to score since they levelled things up. Bradley Barry produced a delightful cross into the box from the right wing but Kristian Dennis’ header rattled the crossbar.
The Spireites were dealt a bitter blow in the 82nd minute as 10-man Vale retook the lead. Substitute Whitfield closed in on goal before curling a right-footed effort into the bottom corner past Ramsdale.
Dennis had a great opportunity to set up a grandstand finish when Boot came rushing out of his goal. However, the Spireites’ top scorer could only find the roof of the net with his effort as his side fell to a disappointing defeat.
Port Vale: Boot, Raglan, Pugh, Pope, Worrall (Myers-Harness 89), Montano, Barnett (Whitfield 57), Smith, Tonge (A. Kay 54), Howkins, Hannant.
Unused subs: Davis, Hornby (gk), Turner, Gibbons, Whitfield.
Chesterfield: Ramsdale, Barry, Nelson, Whitmore, Talbot, Weir, Reed, Kellett (Dodds 81), Hines (J.Kay 81), Brown (O’Grady, 86), Dennis.
Unused subs: Anyon (gk), Smith, Maguire, McCourt.
Attendance: 5,713 (879 from Chesterfield)