Chesterfield made a return to winning ways - and the top three - at a rain-soaked Sixfields with a 3-1 win over League Two basement side Northampton Town.
The Spireites fell behind when the hosts’ skipper, Darren Carter, converted a first-half penalty, but they showed strength of character to claim three points.
Dan Gardner levelled with a powerful drive which ripped the net from its frame to crown an impressive performance on his full league debut. The goal sparked the beginning of torrential rain over the ground as thunder and sheet lightning hit the 5,083 spectators.
With puddles all over the pitch and the ball not rolling evenly, a half-time pitch inspection ensued. However, referee Graham Horwood gave the green light for the second half to begin.
Chesterfield capitalised on a defensive mistake by Northampton’s James Hurst and when Eoin Doyle found Gary Roberts the winger saw his first effort blocked before scoring with a second attempt.
Substitute Armand Gnanduillet wrapped the game up late on with a calm finish under the advancing Matt Duke, in the hosts’ goal, before celebrating in front of 933 visiting supporters.
Northampton piled on the pressure but couldn’t find a way through defiant Chesterfield and the visitors deservedly left Sixfields with a valuable win ahead of Tuesday’s trip to York City.
Spireites manager Paul Cook said: “I’m pleased for the players and I’m pleased for the fans because to travel down at the end of January... it just shows how big a club we are.
“I thought we started the game really well. We were bright and moving the ball really well. The first opportunity for them to go forward, there’s a goal.
“I keep telling people if we want to go where we want to be we must win football games. So if we do concede a goal let’s try and score more.
“We picked an attacking team. I’m delighted for our supporters.”
Gardner looked lively for the 75 minutes he was on the pitch and Cook said his performance, along with other members of the squad, bodes well for the future.
“He’s a good player. Jay O’Shea’s a good player, Gary Roberts is a good player. We’ve got good players at this football club,” said Cook.
“Sometimes with flair players they can’t do it all the time and that’s what supporters must understand. I’ve seen Jay O’Shea score more great goals than any other player I’ve played with.
“I’m pleased the referee didn’t call it off. We’re really pleased to have won and its just another brick in trying to get to where we want to be.”
The win saw the Spireites return to the top three, and, following Scunthorpe United’s draw at Dagenham and Redbridge, they are just a point off the top.
Cook, whose players trained yesterday ahead of tomorrow’s match, added: “Preparations start right now. We’re doing everything we can to give the fans what they want.”
Goals: Carter 15; Gardner 25, Roberts 53, Gnanduillet 87.
Chesterfield (4-2-3-1): Lee 6; Darikwa 7, Evatt (c) 7, Cooper 7, Humphreys 7; Morsy 6, Ryan 6; Gardner 8 (O’Shea 75), Banks 7 (Gnanduillet 64, 7), Roberts 7; Doyle 7 (Hird 83). Subs not used: Dunbavin, Smith, Togwell, Brown.
Northampton (4-4-2): Duke 6; Hurst 5 (Morris 64, 6), McGinty 6, Collins (c) 6, Widdowson 6; Deegan 6 (Hooper 74), Carter 7 (O’Donnovan 66, 6), Tozer 6, Blair 6; Hope 6, German 6. Subs not used: Demontagnac, Snedker, Harriott, Kouo-Doumbe.
Referee: Graham Horwood (Luton).
Bookings: Darikwa, Gardner.
Attendance: 5,083 (933).