Chesterfield made it three wins in eight days with a backs-to-the-wall win at Home Park.
Marc Richards scored his third goal in three starts midway through the second half after struggling Plymouth Argyle dominated ahead of the break but were unable to find a way past Tommy Lee and his hard-working defenders.
Spireites boss Paul Cook said of the goal: “It showed quality and calmness around the six-yard box. Great ball in, good chest down and fine finish; it was really pleasing.”
The goal was carved out by two of Cook’s experienced substitutes. Luis Boa Morte delivered in from the left for Jack Lester to chest down to the scorer, who made no mistake from six yards.
Before the break Argyle, who went into the game with six losses in their previous seven matches, had forced 10 corners and generally dominated against a Chesterfield side that showed plenty of workrate but little attacking threat.
But, despite their authority, the hosts really tested Lee only once when, in a run of rapid corners, Lee dived right to palm away a shot from the impressive Alex MacDonald. Liam Cooper blocked a MacDonald shot, Richards blocked an effort from Curtis Nelson just a yard or two out and Sam Hird’s head diverted an Andres Gurrieri shot on to the bar. Lee had to make several comfortable saves.
Argyle’s final ball in and shooting was generally low quality but plentiful quantity wise. Only a Richards shot, which went wide after a quick counter-attack, looked threatening in the first 45.
After the break, Boa Morte replaced the ineffective Ben Dickenson as the visitors looked more likely to score than they had pre-break, but it was only when Lester came on and the shape changed to 4-4-2 that an away win really looked on the cards.
Just before the winner, Nick Chadwick failed to bring the ball under control on the edge of the six, and soon after Richards demonstrated what was needed in that position in fine style.
The hosts shouted loudly for a penalty when Joe Lennox’s cross struck Nathan Smith on the arm, but late replacement ref Graham Scott waved away their protests and Chesterfield then held on with few defensive palpitations in the final exchanges.
Cook said: “The harder you work, the luckier you get, without a doubt. I wouldn’t say we were lucky to win it but there wasn’t a lot in the game. A great performance but it wasn’t a great spectacle by any stretch of the imagination. Our goal was probably one of the only bits of quality in the game.
“The pleasing thing at half-time was that we got in at 0-0 because we weren’t playing well and we were being put under a lot of pressure. A lot of teams in League Two have a problem in putting together good performances. In isolated performances, everyone seems to be able to play well and have a big win but to be able to put back-to-back performances together is always difficult.”
The match was played in incessant rain after four days of downpours, and Cook added: “Conditions weren’t great for good football, we accept that, but the pleasing thing is that we’ve come away with a win.
“We dug in and showed character; there’s no lack of character in our dressing room. There’s a great work ethic and great team spirit.”
With no midweek game, the Spireites now can prepare for Saturday’s trip to League One leaders Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup.
Plymouth (4-4-1-1): Gilmartin 6, Berry 7, Blanchard 7, Nelson 7, Bhasera 7, Cowan-Hall 6 (Madjo 75), Gurrieri 5 (Lennox 71), Hourihane 5, Molesley 6, MacDonald 8, Chadwick 5 (Griffiths 75). Subs (not used): Cole, Lowry, Richards, Harvey.
Chesterfield (4-2-3-1): Lee 6, Talbot 6, Hird 8, Cooper 9, Smith 6, Togwell 6, Atkinson 6, Darikwa 5, Whitaker 5 (Lester 62, 7), Dickenson 5 (Boa Morte h-t, 6), Richards 7 (Clay 82). Subs (not used): O’Donnell, Forbes, Townsend, O’Shea.
Bookings: Whitaker, Hird, Lester (Chesterfield); Molesley (Plymouth).