Spireites boss John Sheridan isn’t considering walking away from the challenge of keeping his side in League One.
When asked the question he simply said ‘no’ following a 16th league game without victory, towards the end of which, for the first time, there was significant dissent from the stands.
Chesterfield’s shallow confidence took a massive blow 16 minutes before the end. Jack Lester, fairly quiet throughout on his return from suspension, turned on the edge of the box and was clipped by Troy Archibald-Henville and a penalty was rightly awarded.
Up stepped Danny Whitaker, who had City midfielder James Dunne in his ear all of the time the referee was directing operations.
Whitaker, 11 spot-kicks from 11 in match time, hit low to the right and keeper Artur Krysiak dived to beat the ball away.
You could see the last dregs of confidence drain away from the beleaguered bottom side and within five minutes they were behind. Dunne crossed in from the right for Richard Logan to head home.
Worse was to come when, immediately after the Spireites had made a double substitution, replacement Nathan Smith failed to make proper contact with a throw and the ball fell for Liam Sercombe to confirm the destination of the much-needed points.
Sheridan rued: “The penalty put us in the driving seat but missing it totally changed the game because we ended up losing the game. We looked deflated after the miss and we end up losing 2-0.”
He added: “I understand everyone’s frustration, I agree with a lot of what’s been said and what’s happening. I’ve just got to stand up and be strong and take it. What will be, will be but whilst I’m in charge of the football team I’m going to try my damnedest to get the results.”
Chesterfield started with new loan signing from Huddersfield Town Liam Ridehalgh at left-back and the new man looked a decent acquisition. However, they were forced into a reshuffle soon after the half-hour mark when Craig Westcarr twisted his ankle.
Derek Niven came on for his 296th league appearance for the club which lifted him into 17th place in the all-time list ahead of Les Hunter, who played in the 1970s and 80s.
The sub’s introduction saw the Spireites match Exeter’s 4-3-3 shape with Alex Mendy pushing further up.
The game had started evenly with neither side being able to force the pace. Solid tackling and plenty of blocks were regular features of the game, Tommy Lee had to make the first direct save from the influential Dunne.
Krysiak denied Neal Trotman, Lester, Whitaker and Jordan Bowery and City too had their chances, especially from a high number of corners in what was generally a very even game.
Then came the business end of the game which saw the visitors, without a win in five and no travelling maximum since October, remain calmest to seize their opportunities and ease their own relegation fears.
The defeat leaves Chesterfield seven points from safety and City’s goals made it 21 games without a clean sheet in all competitions, equalling the club’s most profligate defensive spell in its history.
With 21 games left, a further 34 points are needed to reach the nominal 50-point target, a rate in excess of 1.6 points per game. That’s the equivalent of play-off form for the rest of the season, an almighty ask for a team that when it travels to Leyton Orient next weekend will have gone four months without a win.
Supporters, unbelievably patient to date, will be desperate for news of quality new signings following the addition of just Ridehalgh last week.
Central midfield, right-back and the strik force are the main areas of concern for the majority of fans who now face two long away trips sandwiching the first leg of the Northern Final of the JPT against Oldham at the B2net.
Being marooned at the foot of the pile won’t be the biggest attraction to garner new players, making it a real test for Sheridan and Chief Executive Chris Turner to up the ante.
But the current squad has, for a long time now, proved to be inadequate for the task at hand, so a massive boost to the roster is needed ahead of the trip to the East End on Saturday.