“They are the hardest games in football,”said Chesterfield manager Paul Cook following his side’s 3-1 defeat of Torquay United.
The Spireites shrugged off a disappointing first half and came from a goal down to see off the visitors to the Proact Stadium.
Samir Goodwin had put the struggling Gulls on their way to what looked like an unlikely three points before the fightback began.
A double substitution, which saw the introduction of Armand Gnanduillet and the influential Gary Roberts, inspired the hosts.
Eoin Doyle capitalised on a defensive mistake almost instantly to level the scores and renew hope of an important three points.
Gnanduillet saw a trio of opportunities to put Chesterfield ahead pass him by and on another day they could have proved crucial.
But Jay O’Shea, on his return to the starting line-up, relieved the tension inside the ground with a brace in the last ten minutes.
It gave the Spireites the win they craved and re-established a three-point lead over Scunthorpe United at the top of League Two.
“The first half was very flat,” said Cook following the game. “We never played well, we never got going.
“We’ve had some big games lately and, unfortunately, it was always going to be a difficult one because you’re expected to just turn up and win.
“They are the hardest games in football. They are always the hardest. You must make your own atmosphere and generate your own sort of level of performance
“That’s what good teams do. Today we were painful for a long, long period of the game. But, eventually, we were anything but that.
He added: “I thought the lads deserve a lot of credit to have the ability to dig in and produce a win that didn’t look like happening.”
Doyle’s instinctive finish - his fourth in as many league games - pleased the manager.
Cook said: “Eoin Doyle is doing really well at the minute. You see when he goes through on goal, it was a goal, he was confident.
“It’s a player who is playing games and in full flow at the minute. It’s going well for us at the minute.
“Today was a great result for the players.
“They should take all the credit and all the plaudits.”
O’Shea’s brace took his tally for the season to six. The Irishman looked like a man on a mission on his first start in nearly a month. “He was very disappointed last week,” said Cook. “I told him on the coach coming back from Scunthorpe he was starting. I’ve got great faith in Jay O’Shea.
“I’ve seen the goals he’s scored for this club since I’ve come in. When Dan (Gardner) came in he was getting a lot of the plaudits and scoring goals.
“My job as manager is to try and give all these lads as many minutes on the pitch so that they can show the fans what they’re all about.
“Jay O’Shea showed everyone today what he was all about. We have goals in the team. We scored three today and we seem to score goals quite regularly.
“That doesn’t seem to be a problem.
“Torquay deserve a lot of credit for stifling us for such a long time and making it difficult and in the end it was a really good win.”
Cook also confirmed Drew Talbot will see a specialist on Monday to hopefully resolve a troublesome abductor problem, which kept him out of Saturday’s game.
Goals: Doyle 56, O’Shea 80 + 90; Goodwin 50.
Chesterfield (4-2-3-1): Lee 6; Darikwa 6, Evatt (c) 6, Cooper 6, Humphreys 6; Ryan 6, Morsy 6, O’Shea 7, Banks 6 (Gnanduillet 55, 6), Gardner 6 (Roberts 55, 6); Doyle 6 (Hird 84). Subs not used: Dunbavin, Togwell, Smith, Richards.
Torquay United (4-5-1): Poke 5; Tonge 6, Pearce 6, Lathrope 6 (Downes 75), Mansell 7, Chapell 6 (Cameron 81), Goodwin 7, Labadie 6, Stockley 6 (Wilkinson 75), Cruise 6, O’Connor 6. Subs not used: Nicholson, Hawley, Rice, O’Brien.
Bookings: Banks; Stockley, Wilkinson.
Referee: Carl Boyeson (East Yorkshire).