John Sheridan’s side, without a League One win in a dozen games, desperately needed a win having succumbed in the final minute at another drop zone side, Wycombe Wanderers, a week earlier.
The Spireites’ opening 45 minutes was awful, just the sort of showing you’d expect from a bottom of the table side that have forgotten how to accumulate points.
That appalling half saw them just one goal down, testimony to the fact that Walsall, themselves without a win since mid-October, were pretty poor too.
Alex Nicholls latched on to a diagonal long ball from Anton Peterlin, seeing off Neal Trotman for pace, to lash home a shot from the edge of the box.
Craig Westcarr had almost given the hosts a perfect start but his close range shot on 40 seconds was well blocked by 38-year-old keeper Jimmy Walker. From then to the break, Spireites were as bad as at any time in this, so far, dire season.
Chesterfield were unable to pass, tackling seemed to be something they were unaware of and offside was the usual outcome for any forward raid. When they did get into a shooting position, the only danger was to the Walsall supporters sitting behind the goal in the North Stand. The fact that everyone didn’t boo as they trooped off at half-time was the only surprise.
The second half was a different story. Spireites displayed energy and commitment, but couldn’t find their way beyond Walker until the final minute.
Every shot, and there were plenty, seemed to go straight at the keeper - those that didn’t get tangled up between strikers’ feet. Lester himself had two such openings, one which appeared to also contain a shove in the back from a defender.
With the clock running down Danny Whitaker clipped the bar from 20 yards and it was from a similar, lower shot, that the deserved equaliser came from. Whitaker’s effort hit a defender and fell for Lester, who had to gather quickly and turn to shoot home, much to the relief of the frustrated home crowd.
Assistant Manager Tommy Wright said: “In the first half we were very poor. We looked anxious, low on confidence and energy. But in the second half, you have to give credit to the players, they bucked their ideas up, moved the ball quicker. We got the ball wide, the wingers kept their width better and we stretched the game and created a few chances.
“We kept going and we fully deserved the equaliser and, on the second half performance, we probably deserved to win the game.”
The management team, given the backing of the Board earlier in the week together with transfer window funds, have already made their first new signing.
Jimmy Juan, 28, a French holding midfielder, has signed to the end of this season. He was a free agent after his most recent club, Grenoble, went bust in the summer. Prior to that he’d played for Monaco, including a brief Champions League appearance against Liverpool, Chateauroux and, in 2005-06 he had a season’s loan at Ipswich Town.
International clearance has been received for the man who has been on trial for a few weeks and he is expected to play in this afternoon’s Central League Cup match against Rotherham United at the B2net (2pm).
Chesterfield (4-4-2): Lee 6, Talbot 6, Trotman 5, Ford 6, Griffiths 7, Westcarr 7 (Bowery 71,7), Allott 5, Whitaker 5, Mendy 6, Morgan 7 (Obadeyi 79), Lester 7. Subs (not used): Fleming, Downes, Smith.
Walsall (4-3-3): Walker 7, Westlake 6 (Bowerman 87), Beevers 6, Butler 7, Sadler 6, Chambers 7, Taundry 6, Peterlin 6, Nicholls 7, Macken 5 (Grigg 63,5), Paterson 5 (Halliday 79). Subs (not used): Grof, Gnapka.
Booked: Taundry, Walker (Walsall)