Spireites were given a dose of reality, losing a low quality game with a goal from nothing as they began life at their new elevated status.
Rovers saw Adam McGurk take a quick left sided throw to Robbie Weir. The receiver slid the ball, first touch, beyond Tommy Lee from a tight angle at the near post, a really poor goal to concede but one for the scorer to celebrate, it was his first ever at this level.
Moments before that blow, Jack Lester had Chesterfield’s best chance, and there were precious few for the League Two Champions, but he headed over from six yards following a right wing corner.
The lack of chances created by Spireites against a side that many pundits tip to struggle was the greatest concern.
Tranmere, who started with one man up front, 24 year old Mustafa Tiryaki, on his league debut, prevented last season’s free-flowing scorers from having one effort of note on target. A Drew Talbot header was saved easily after the goal action.
John Sheridan went into the game with an unfamiliar formation. The back four were protected by Mark Allott and Danny Whitaker, and up to the goal they looked solid and untroubled.
Then there was a line of three, Jordan Bowery on the right, Dean Morgan left and Mark Randall in the middle, with Lester up front alone.
The manager said of the formation: “I just thought I’d match them, we looked comfortable. Everyone knows I prefer to play 4-4-2 but we didn’t look in any danger so it was working without us really looking to be a goal threat, which we usually are. It was something I did and leading up to the goal, I was pleased with the way things were going.”
Early on in the game, Spireites enjoyed the bulk of possession. Morgan looked a threat and a decent outlet but Lester was isolated and rarely received the ball in a position that he could begin to think about goal success.
The output of Rovers’ concerns were a host of Chesterfield free-kicks in the area just beyond where you’d realistically shoot from, and at half-time, Sheridan will have been the marginally happier boss.
Former Barnsley winger Martin Devaney was becoming the game’s busiest player, delivering plenty of crosses and having the odd shot and Spireites began to look nervy.
Morgan was clearly irked when he was replaced by Derek Niven just after the hour mark and the switch meant that Chesterfield’s most potent attacking threat was lost.
Rovers began to step things up but Niven won the corner that spawned Lester’s chance and then straight afterwards, the hosts bagged the winner.
After the goal, Rovers looked the only side likely to score more, though Talbot’s header and a Niven volley that flew wide did come Spireites’ way.
Sheridan said: “I’m disappointed, I don’t like losing any game. I was very comfortable leading up to the goal, I didn’t see that we were in any danger and it looked like a draw.
“Unfortunately we had a great opportunity just before they scored, Jack should have scored, but that’s life. They went up the other end and we went to sleep from a throw in, which has annoyed me more than anything else because people just switched off.
“The ball was out of play and people haven’t organised and reacted quickly enough. We’re playing against better teams and we got punished. It was a schoolboy error that should have never happened.”
He concluded: “Performance wise, we looked a bit nervy, which shouldn’t be the case, we’ve just come up as Champions. It would have been nice to have come away with something, neither keeper really had a save to make.”
Tranmere: fon Williams 6; Kay 7, Goodison 7, McChrystal 7, Bakayogo 6; Devaney 8 (Labadie 85), Welsh 6, Weir 6, Robinson 7, McGurk 7; Tiryaki 6 (Akins 75). Subs (not used): Coughlin, Buchanan, Raven.
Goal: Weir 74
Booked: Robinson foul 68
Chesterfield: Lee 6; Talbot 7, Ford 7 (Boden 85), Mattis 8, Smith 7; Allott 6, Whitaker 6; Bowery 5, Randall 5 (Holden 77), Morgan 6 (Niven 61/6); Lester 5.
Booked: Allott foul 69
Referee: Oliver Langford (West Midlands)