Jack Lester’s close range header in the seventh minute of stoppage time earned Spireites a deserved first point of the season.
He flung himself forwards to get on the end of a superb Dean Morgan delivery to level against 10-man Stevenage who had taken the lead just before the break.
Borough, cynical and ugly throughout, scored through Darius Charles whose header from a yard, with his arm wrapped round keeper Tommy Lee, gave the visitors a surprise lead.
Offering very little in the attacking sense but always willing to leave a foot in late or flail their arms, the visitors earned a free kick on the box edge and a decent routine then earned a corner, though Chesterfield’s players felt they’d fouled en-route.
Stacy Long delivered deep, Michael Bostwick headed goalwards and Charles leapt in to finish it off.
A Drew Talbot cross immediately after the goal found Lester at the back stick, two yards out and unmarked, but the supreme striker’s header hit the upright when a goal looked odds-on.
Talbot, Mark Allott and Danny Whitaker had all shot close to the target ahead of the goal and Lee had to tip a Bostwick long ranger over but it was Bostwick that gave Chesterfield a numerical advantage when he was red carded.
A foul on Lester earned a yellow and then a crude challenge on Allott earned a second, it looked bad enough to have perhaps earned a straight red, but nevertheless with 66 minutes played, Stevenage were short handed.
They’d been getting away with a whole host of pushes and shoves by a weak referee but even Mr Eltringham had no option other than to dismiss Bostwick.
Sub Jordan Bowery hit the side netting on the turn as the hosts dominated attacking proceedings but their legs seemed to be tiring against the renowned trainers of Borough. But when the fourth official held up his board indicating a minimum of six more minutes, hopes of a last gasper increased.
The time was justified, Graham Westley’s side are also expert time wasters, and the end of the sixth minute clicked on just as Morgan received on the left to deliver the ball in for Lester’s header, his 19th consecutive home goal.
The scorer said: “It went to the very end before we got something, but we deserved it with the chances we created. We played Ok at times and they didn’t create much and on another day we’d have won comfortably but we didn’t quite get the breaks. I missed a chance that I’m disappointed about but we got a result in the end.”
On his goal he said: “Scott Boden had a good touch, played it wide and Dean put a great ball in. I just peeled off at the back and got a header in, it was good to score.”
John Sheridan said: “I respect Stevenage, no-one has to tell me what type of side they are, they play to their strengths and I knew it would be a very difficult game. They try and make you get involved in the type of game that suits them but I definitely think we deserved something out of the game.
“We made some good, good chances and conceded a poor goal on our part but full credit to the players who stuck at it and we got our just rewards in the end.”
He added: “I thought there may have been longer extra time with the ‘so called’ injuries going on on the pitch, trying to bide their time. I asked the fourth official if he realised Stevenage were taking the mickey out them.”
Spireites host Preston tomorrow evening and still could have new faces in the squad. Frenchman Alex Mendy, a tall right winger, is training with the club. “He’s done alright,” says the manager, “We’ll have another look at him and I’ll make a decision, but he’s done OK.”
Chesterfield: Lee 5; Holden 7, Downes 6 (Boden 88), Mattis 7, Smith 7; Talbot 8, Allott 6 (Randall 78), Niven 5 (Bowery 63/5), Whitaker 7; Morgan 5, Lester 7. Subs (not used): Fleming, Darikwa.
Goal: Lester 90+7
Booked: Lester foul 19
Stevenage: Julian 5; Henry 6, Ashton 7, Roberts 7, Laird 6; Wilson 8, Bostwick 6, Long 6 (Shroot 73/6), Edwards 6; Charles 6, Harrison 5 (Beardsley 71/5). Subs (not used): Day, Myrie-Williams, May.
Goal: Charles 40
Sent Off: Bostwick (two yellows 54 & 66, both fouls)
Referee: Geoff Eltringham (Tyne & Wear)