Sam Clucas hit the post late on and he also forced the save of the game as Chesterfield moved a step closer to a top six finish.
The belief that this could be the season for Chesterfield was all but cemented in Tuesday’s terrific 6-0 win over Colchester United and that, combined with other ideal results on the night, leaves the prize within touching distance.
Oldham Athletic, caretaker managed by former Chesterfield League Two champion Dean Holden, whose status at the Proact Stadium is that of a hero, could still technically go down, that’s highly unlikely though, so they’ll be all out for the win that will seal safety and would also help Holden in his quest to get the job permanently.
Paul Cook’s plans were hampered with a late injury to Sam Hird, who has travelled here, Charlie Raglan steps in whilst Dan Jones replaces hamstring victim Drew Talbot, meaning two changes in the normally stingy back four.
A disappointing opening 45 ended goalless with Chesterfield the second best side on the day.
Lee and his opposite number Coleman comfortably caught early crosses into the box as the game started with the ball being passed about by both sides in the centre third of the park as the both sought to find their lone strikers.
Clucas hit a snap shot from the box-edge well wide as the game struggled to reach any memorable heights.
Athletic earned the first corner of the game but Jones’s delivery as too deep and drifted out without a touch from anyone. Chesterfield’s own Jones kept up with play to rob Murphy as he received 20 yards out as news of Rochdale losing at Gillingham filtered through to the away contingent.
Lee had to dive right to palm a 20 yarder from ex-Blade Brown round the post and the keeper then fumbled a simple ball to concede another corner that Roberts cleared, it was delivered back in to the Spireites box for Jones to head over for a third corner that came to nothing.
Gnanduillet came on for Gardner, the switch looked tactical as Spireites moved to 4-4-2. Darikwa’s clearance took an unlucky deflection and fell for Murphy whose shot was blocked by Evatt, the ball fell back to the striker who forced Lee to save as Chesterfield continued to struggle to make positive progress.
Roberts flicked short for Gnanduillet who got behind the back line but shot disappointingly wide and Clucas the shot from similar range but Coleman gathered confidently.
Oldham won another corner after a speculative Jones 40 yard shot deflected out but Gnanduillet and Clucas combined to clear.
O’Shea earned Chesterfield’s first corner, Roberts found Evatt but his header flew wide. Raglan hooked a ball with his left foot that forced Coleman to save, but the shot never looked like hitting the back of the net.
A disappointing 45 nonetheless ended with Chesterfield in a stronger position than they were at 3 o’clock due to Gillingham’s lead over Rochdale.
O’Shea’s free-kick just eluded Gnanduillet’s head and Oldham’s Jones’ hit comfortably for Lee to gather ahead of Ryan shooting wide from range.
Brian Wilson’s shot from a rehearsed free-kick was blocked by Gnanduillet and it allowed O’Shea to clear and Roberts, now up front alongside the big Frenchman, to burst through to win a corner that Coleman caught.
Bove And Elokobi came in for Murphy and Gerrard for the hosts.
Mike Jones chipped from the right side of the box but, commensurate with the play in the second half, it flew over the bar.
Roberts did well to earn a corner on the left and Evatt saw Coleman spill his shot and another corner came along, Evatt again got to it but Oldham cleared. Ryan burst forwards, found Roberts and his ball in was back-heeled onto the post by Clucas and Gnanduillet skied the rebound over the bar.
Clucas forced a great tip-over save from Coleman as Spireites ended strongly but supporters will now turn their attention to Spotland on Tuesday when anything other than a win over Orient will take Rochdale out of the equation and clinch a season’s extension.
Attendance: 4557 (1254 from Chesterfield)
Oldham: Coleman, Brown, Dieng, Kelly, Jones, Philliskirk, Winchester, J.Wilson, Gerrard, Murphy, B.Wilson. Subs: Kean, Elokobi, Mellor, Lockwood, Bove, Tuohy, Jacobs.
Chesterfield: Lee, Darikwa, Raglan, Evatt, Jones, Ryan, Morsy, O’Shea, Roberts, Gardner, Clucas. Subs: Flatt, Humphreys, Carter, Ariyibi, Harrison, Banks, Gnanduillet
Ref: Graham Horwood (Bedfordshire)