Two goals in the opening 12 minutes laid the foundations for Spireites’ first win in six.
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake volleyed in off the post from Connor Dimaio’s delivery following a short corner routine and that was soon followed by Lee Novak scoring his 12th of the season from close range following sound work by Gboly Ariyibi down the right.
Bottom four side Alex, who battled well throughout, pulled a goal back when left side midfielder Zoumana Bakayogo was well positioned to convert after a shot and then a cross from the lively Brad Inman were both repelled.
Danny Wilson’s men restored a two-goal advantage in the second half when ex-Blade Dimaio played a neat one-two on the box-edge with Ebanks-Blake before slotting home his first ever senior goal. In doing so became the first ever Chesterfield-born player to score for the hosts at the Proact Stadium, though another former Bramall Lane man, Kevan Hurst, was the first home town boy to score there, albeit for Southend United.
Crewe created plenty of chances in the final half hour but Spireites’ defence held firm and when the back-line was breached, Tommy Lee was there to maintain the gap.
The manager made four changes from the side that battled for a midweek point at Colchester United; the suspended Gary Liddle plus the benched trio of Mani Dieseruvwe, Jay O’Shea and Dion Donohue were replaced by the two early scorers, Chris Herd and debut maker Declan John.
The Cardiff City loanee gradually played himself into the game and looked a decent player in what has been a troublesome position to fill. It was encouraging to see injured left-back Dan Jones (broken ankle) warming up on the pitch pre-match; he’s hoping to get some reserves action very soon.
Chesterfield’s starting 4-3-3 formation was compromised soon after the second goal when Herd was forced off with a hip problem, O’Shea deputised and Wilson reverted to two in attack and that reshuffle led to Crewe enjoying a decent spell.
Lee had to save well to deny Ben Nugent whilst Callum Saunders, son of former Chesterfield boss Dean, hit wide from a gilt-edged position.
Dimaio’s home-debut goal earned breathing space for Spireites to bring the valuable three points home and Wilson was rightly pleased with what he’d seen. He said: “It was a hard-earned win. You could see that Crewe were a decent, well-organised outfit and at times we had to defend very stoutly.
“But on the other side, we were quite clinical with our finishing and our attacking play was better than it’s been for a few weeks. I’d seen Crewe a couple of times recently and we tried to work on the weaknesses of the team and one thing they have done is lose goals very early in games so we wanted to get out of the traps as quick as we could and see what happened and thankfully we got two quick-fire goals.”
Spireites make the long trek to promotion-chasing Gillingham next weekend ahead of a six-pointer at home to Blackpool.
Chesterfield: Lee 7, Talbot 6, Anderson, 7 Hird 7, John 6, Dimaio 7, Herd (O’Shea 19, 6), Banks 8, Ariyibi 6, Novak 7, Ebanks-Blake 6 (Dieseruvwe 74). Subs (not used): Chapman, Humphreys, Donohue, Simons, Slew.
Goals: Ebanks-Blake 7, Novak 12, Dimaio 56.
Crewe: Garratt 6, Turton 7, Nugent 7, Ajayi 6, Guthrie 6, Fox 6, Jones 6, Inman 8, Bakayogo 7 (Ainley 65, 7), Haber 5, Saunders 5 (Kirk 59, 7). Subs (not used): Richards, Ng, Kearns, Howell, Finney.
Goal: Bakayogo 27.
Ref: Gavin Ward (Surrey).
Booked: Jones, Guthrie (Crewe).
Attendance: 6,264 (347 from Crewe).