Chesterfield earned a win against a side managed by Peter Taylor for the first time ever - at the 11th attempt.
Deane Smalley registered his eighth of the season following a superb through ball as the league leaders dominated the first half. After the break it was backs to the wall for the Spireites as Bradford City piled on the pressure but they were unable to find any telling finale.
Simon Ford (calf) was absent, replaced by Smalley, back from suspension. That meant that Drew Talbot carried on at righ-back, the position he switched to when Ford hobbled from the action in the win at Lincoln. Scott Boden’s battling show at Sincil Bank meant he retained his place.
City, one win in eight before the game, left out Leon Osborne allowing Lee Bullock to start. Big striker James Hanson, posted as injured ahead of the game, was on the bench and featured after the hour mark.
Smalley hit the game’s first shot after cutting in from the right, Luke Oliver took it in the stomach at the expense of a corner. Ian Morris hammered in a long ranger from distance as Spireites started confidently. Gareth Evans produced Bantams’ first shot following a Michael Flynn throw, but Tommy Lee gathered safely.
It wasn’t too long before the visitors were ahead. Boden passed to Kieran Djilali who conjured up a candidate for ‘pass of the season’ with a diagonal through ball to negate Luke O’Brien and allow Smalley to receive and hit a rising shot first time.
A speculative Kevin Ellison cross bounced on the top of the bar, came back into play and the Spireites rapidly broke clear. Davies and Boden exchanged passes and the leading scorer found himself in a decent position but saw Lenny Pidgeley catch his effort.
Pidgeley was soon back in action to block a Djilali first timer after some good Chesterfield possession that saw a Talbot cross helped on by Ian Breckin as the visitors continued to look the better side.
City brought on Jake Speight for the ineffective Scott Dobie after the break but it was Spireites who were on the front foot after the restart but City’s defence was effective at limiting them to crosses, stretched headers and hopeful passes into the final third.
Flynn warmed the palms of Lee in a rare City attack and soon after Speight was crowded out by Holden and Breckin, two attacks that gave the quiet home fans something to shout about. With James Hanson on, City’s reshaped strikeforce looked more threatening, Speight shooting just too high on the turn.
Spireites became ragged, with several big hoofs out of the danger area rather than the cultured passing of the first half. Bradford sensed an opportunity.
Adeyemi headed after a Hanson set up but Lee caught it. Three straight home corners added to the tension but Sheridan’s men held on.
Bradford: Pidgeley 7, Hunt 6, Oliver 6, Williams 7, O’Brien 6, Bullock 6 (Osborne 82), Adeyemi 6, Flynn 8, Ellison 7, Dobie 5 (Speight h-t, 7), Evans 5 (Hanson 64, 6). Subs (not used): McLaughlin, Duff, Worthington, Threlfall.
Chesterfield: Lee 7, Talbot 7, Holden 8, Breckin 6, Robertson 7, Smalley 7, Niven 6, Morris 7, Djilali 6 (Whitaker 88), Boden 6 (Lester 78), Davies 6. Subs (not used): Redmond, Lowry, Griffiths, Bowery, Vidal.
Goal: Smalley 16
Referee: Karl Evans (Lancashire).
Bookings: Ellison (Bradford); Holden, Lester (Chesterfield).