Paul Cook had to rely on Plan B to see off bottom club Wimbledon.
The manager started the game with his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation but his side toiled before the break, particularly after the withdrawal of lone striker Marc Richards due to a hamstring twinge.
Jack Lester came on but no new spark lifted the Spireites’ somewhat ponderous opening to the contest.
However, at the break he threw on the raw talent of French-born Ivorian striker Armand Gnanduillet. The 21-year-old, who’d got only in the region of 10 minutes pitch time in total in League Two, scored one and made one as Chesterfield picked up just their second win in seven with a 4-4-2 formation at the centre of it all.
The opener saw Gnanduillet side-foot home a rising shot from 10 yards in a very congested box, but it was the work down the left of Nathan Smith and Man of the Match Danny Whitaker that made the goal.A neat interchange between the left-siders saw Whitaker’s pinpoint pass find the scorer, who duly celebrated his first goal in England following his capture from French fourth-tier side Poissy.
The points were wrapped up by fellow sub Lester on 83 minutes after Sam Togwell chipped a long ball forwards for Gnanduillet.
Marshalled by Alan Bennett, the striker made ground with a couple of step-overs thrown in for good measure. With the whole crowd anticipating a shot, Gnanduillet sensed Lester’s overlapping run to his right, so he laid the ball off for the 37-year-old to fire home from an acute angle to beat Neil Sullivan.
AFC wideman Luke Moore forced Tommy Lee into a save two minutes later with the visitors’ first shot on target, confirming what a solid job the defence had done in keeping a clean sheet.
Drew Talbot returned to right-back after five weeks out with a broken toe, meaning skipper Sam Hird moved to a central midfield role while transfer-listed Neal Trotman retained his place in the heart of the defence. The rearguard set-up looked solid and it’ll be a major surprise if it’s not recreated for the weekend trip up the M1 to New York Stadium.
Whitaker had the ball in the net after 20 minutes but an offside flag meant the conversion counted for nothing.
Recent recruit from Chelmsford 19-year old Richard Brindley,got his league debut, albeit for the length of stoppage time only.
Cook said: “Goals, clean sheet, great day and everyone goes home happy.”
“The pitch isn’t great at the minute and we’ve spoken about being effective with Plan B. Armand certainly helps with that because you have that physical presence and a bit of pace. It sets us up for the week. We go to Rotherham and everyone knows the importance of that.”
Chesterfield (4-2-3-1): Lee 6, Talbot 6, Trotman 7, Cooper 7, Smith 7, Hird 7, Togwell 7, Whitaker 8 (Brindley 90), Randall 6 (Gnanduillet 46, 7), O’Shea 6, Richards 6 (Lester 21, 7). Subs (not used): Barrington, Townsend, Wafula, Clay.
AFC Wimbledon (4-4-2): Sullivan 7, Fenlon 7, Bennett 6, Mitchel-King 6, Hussey 7, Long 6 (McCallum 69, 6), Meades 5, Sweeney 5 (S.Moore 80), L.Moore 6, Midson 5 (Ajala 46, 7), Alexander 6. Subs (not used): Jaimez-Ruiz, Cummings, Yussuff, Balkestein.
Bookings: Lester, O’Shea (Chesterfield); Fenlon, Sweeney, Ajala (Wimbledon).