John Sheridan suffered the Birthday Blues as his side were beaten at home despite enjoying the bulk of play.
On his 47th birthday, Spireites’ manager saw Reading loanee Michail Antonio lash home a rebound from a partially cleared corner on the half hour to earn the visitors the points.
The goal came after Mark Allott, who’s 34 today, headed an Anthony Wordsworth corner, won after Jonathan Grounds had to hook a Ben Coker cross away from under the bar.
His clearance fell to Ian Henderson whose 25 yarder was blocked and fell to the scorer, just inside the box. He hit the ball first time, through a crowd, and it went under keeper Greg Fleming’s arms.
Prior to that, winger Alex Mendy had shot just over and United’s ex Chesterfield keeper Ben Williams escaped one of those potentially haunting moments. Long serving defender Pat Baldwin rolled a simple back pass to him but it rolled over his foot and just evaded the post by a fraction. Dean Holden, recalled to cover for the injured Simon Ford, headed the resulting corner just wide from a good position.
Antonio had showed his predatory threat in making a superb run into the box before he made the game’s most telling contribution.
Twice between goal and the break, Craig Westcarr had decent chances, a block and a fine save denied him the equaliser.
Williams made the game’s best save just 45 seconds after the restart, diving left to push a low Mendy shot away following a run and cut in from the Frenchman.
Fleming had to do well to keep a Wordsworth effort out ahead of Spireites’ closest call. Nathan Smith, who limped off in the final minute which could affect his Jamaican International call up, crossed in for Leon Clarke who, at full stretch, saw his shot cannon off the upright.
Westcarr headed over following the host’s best move of the match, Grounds dragged a shot wide and defender Brian Wilson had a lucky injury time escape when, attempting to put the ball out for a corner, he inadvertently hammered the ball on target and Williams had to save.
The home contingent screamed for a back pass, but referee Mohareb turned down the appeals, as he did when Clarke tumbled in the area under pressure from Baldwin.
Colchester’s win, a fifth in their last seven visits to Chesterfield, again showed how Sheridan’s sides struggle to break down opponents who stick five men in midfield, but Spireites had the opportunities to have done more.
“We played better than we did against Bury, and we won that game,” said Sheridan, who added: “I have to stay positive, I’m pleased with the way we played. We created lots of chances, good chances as well, and on another day we could easily have scored four or five.
“The down side is that they scored first, hung on and made life difficult. They’ve got some awkward players who are difficult to play against. I can’t fault the effort of my players. The negative is the result, the positive is that we kept going and created opportunities to score.”
Chesterfield: Fleming 6; Talbot 5, Grounds 5, Holden 6, N.Smith 5 (Bowery 90); Mendy 8, Allott 7, Johnson 6 (Randall 63), Whitaker 7 (Boden 80); Clarke 6, Westcarr 6. Subs (not used): A.Smith, Downes.
Booked: Johnson foul 50
Colchester: Williams 7; Wilson 6, Baldwin 6, Okuonghae 6, Coker 6; Antonio 8 (Duguid 80), Bond 5, Henderson 6, Izzet 5, Wordsworth 7; Odejayi 7. Subs (not used): Heath, Gillespie, James, White.
Booked: Antonio 76 ungentlemanly conduct, Wordsworth 89 kicking ball away, Odejayi 90+3 time wasting.