Chesterfield kept the pressure on League Two leaders Scunthorpe United after victory at Dagenham and Redbridge.
Eoin Doyle’s fourth goal in five games secured a crucial three points for the Spireites in the race for automatic promotion.
Chesterfield boss Paul Cook made two changes to his starting line up from that which was held at home by Exeter City, with Dan Kearns and Jimmy Ryan recalled in place of Gary Roberts and the suspended Sam Morsy.
It was the hosts who had the first sight of goal when a quick throw-in found Luke Norris in space on the edge of the area. The striker’s volley brushed the outside of the side netting but Tommy Lee looked to have it comfortably covered.
Doyle looked lively early on and was often first to the ball ahead of his marker. Though Spireites’ first effort came from the unlikely boot of Nathan Smith, 20 yards out from the angle, which he blazed high over Jordan Seabright’s goal. The Dagenham keeper had his defenders to thank moments later when skipper Brian Saah blocked bravely to deny Tendayi Darikwa’s fierce volley, after Chesterfield had exerted considerable pressure on the hosts’ goal.
The visitors’ make-shift right-back, Darikwa, was harshly cautioned for what appeared to be a well-timed tackle on Lawson D’Ath as Dagenham looked to break. Referee Steve Bratt was quick on the scene and issued a yellow card.
Darikwa had a hand in the opening goal midway through the first half when his cross-come-shot looped up in the air off a charging defender and Doyle was perfectly placed to volley the ball beyond a helpless Seabright from six yards. Again, the chance came about after prolonged pressure on the hosts’ goal, which was instigated by Dan Gardner’s movement.
He latched on to Smith’s throw-in and turned an effort towards goal which was deflected and not cleared.
Blair Turgott forced Lee into a comfortable save before Medy Elito weaved his way into the penalty area, sold Ian Evatt a dummy and was thwarted from getting a shot off by the covering run and interception from Darikwa.
There were nervy moments shortly after the re-start for Chesterfield when Matt Saunders’ set piece tempted Lee, who failed to get there, and when the ball was recycled D’Ath saw his shot blocked by two onrushing blue shirts.
Spireites were soon on the front foot again and when Gardner fed Marc Richards, the striker turned his man and sent a curling left-footed effort towards the top corner, which narrowly flashed wide of the far post.
A determined and mazy run by Darikwa from right back to the edge of the opposing penalty area set Kearns up, who shot straight at Seabright. Norris sent a fizzing effort down the throat of Lee before Saah’s deflected volley went narrowly over.
Chesterfield’s front pairing of Doyle and Richards combined when the former flicked on for the latter and the ex-Port Vale man came agonisingly close on the stretch from eight yards out.
Then came a frantic minute which almost saw goals at both ends of the pitch - Kearns brought out an outstanding save from Seabright before Dagenham countered and Norris’ header came within inches of an equaliser - but Chesterfield held on.
Dagenham: Seabright, Femi, Saah (c), Bingham (Shields 58), Elito D’Ath, Saunders (Howell 85), Hoyte, Gayle, Turgott (Obafemi 58), Norris. Subs (not used): Lewington, Wilkinson, Ogogo, Connors.
Chesterfield: Lee; Darikwa, Evatt (c), Cooper, Smith; Gardner (Roberts), Ryan, Hird, Kearns (O’Shea 70); Doyle, Richards (Gnanduillet 78). Subs (not used): Dunbavin, Humphreys, Togwell, Beesley.
Goals: Doyle 28 (Chesterfield).
Sendings off: None.
Bookings: D’Ath 66 (Dagenham); Darikwa 24 (Chesterfield).
Referee: Steve Bratt (West Midlands)