Jay O’Shea inspired Chesterfield to victory with two goals after the League Two leaders found themselves one down to Torquay but Eoin Doyle equalised and O’Shea struck twice.
From the opening exchanges, it was clear this was going to be no walkover the League Two table might have suggested.
Struggling Torquay worked hard to press leaders Chesterfield, who saw plenty of the ball but often came up against 10 yellow and white striped shirts in the final third of the pitch.
The visitors were almost punished when an attempted flick from Lathorpe in midfield didn’t come off and Doyle intercepted.
Doyle switched the ball to Banks, who in turn found O’Shea, on his return to the line up. The winger got the ball out of his feet and, just when it looked like he’d waited too long, unleashed a powerful drive that cannoned off the woodwork from a tight angle.
Spireites had another opportunity moments later when O’Shea was tugged by Labadie. The Irishman whipped in the resulting free-kick from the right looking for Cooper, who must have been a matter of inches away from connecting with the header.
There was a shaky moment for the hosts when Mansell dispossessed Cooper. He looked for Stockley, who was quickly pounced upon by Evatt, and, after a goalmouth scramble, Labadie dragged a shot wide of the target.
Torquay had another sight of goal when O’Connor volleyed wide of Lee’s right hand post from the edge of the area before Labadie fired wide of the mark once more as the visitors showed an eagerness to shoot at every opportunity.
Banks had the chance to test Poke, in the visitors’ goal, from 30 yards with a free-kick but his effort went high and wide of the goal.
Signs of frustration were beginning to show from the hosts as the half drew to a close.
Banks was twice spoken to by referee Mr Boyeson and subsequently booked while faint appeals for a penalty were waved away when Gardner went to ground under close attention by Tonge as the half petered out.
Lee, who hadn’t had a save to make in the first half, had to be on his toes moments after the re-start to punch clear an inviting Goodwin cross from the left ahead of the onrushing Stockley.
Chesterfield put a promising move together down the right and when O’Shea found the run of Morsy inside the area it took a desperate block from Pearce to deflect the ball over the bar.
It was from a Spireites corner that the visitors took the lead. GOODWIN broke at speed down the right, leaving a wave of blue shirts in his wake, and rifled a shot beyond Lee into the roof of the net.
It could have been two in as many minutes for Torquay when Chappell raced through this time only to drag a shot across goal from a similar position. O’Shea forced Poke into action at the other end.
Then a double substitution from Chesterfield saw Roberts and Gnanduillet enter the fray in place of Banks and Gardner, who have had, and will have, better days for the club. It proved to be the catalyst the hosts were crying out for.
A long punt forward caught the Torquay defence napping, which forced Poke to dive bravely at the feet of Doyle, and, when the keeper went to clear, the ball hit the back of Pearce. It fell kindly for DOYLE who nipped in and slotted the ball past Poke to level. Poke redeemed himself moments later when he turned Gnanduillet’s volley around the corner of his post. The Ivorian striker would have plenty more opportunities as the afternoon went on. He twice sent headers wide of the target from inside the area before sending a shot wide from six yards out with the goal gaping.
Torquay weren’t out of this game and they reminded everyone of their attacking threat when Labadie and Mansell combined in the final third before Mansell sshot wide from a promising position. The visitors had a glorious chance to go ahead when Goodwin hit the post with a curling effort and Wilkinson, with the goal at his mercy, sent his follow up well wide of the mark.
Chesterfield were to make them pay when O’SHEA struck a left footed shot past the outstretched arm of Poke and into the far corner of the net. Wilkinson blazed a volley over before O’SHEA grabbed his second goal in injury time to send Chesterfield three points clear at the top of League Two when he tucked the ball past Poke.