Chesterfield were blown away by a ruthless second half display by league leaders Scunthorpe United.
It was men against boys once the Iron found the net three minutes after the interval, Danny Wilson’s players wilting as Scunthorpe romped to a 3-0 victory.
After the game Wilson admitted his side had lost too many 50:50 battles and questioned their willingness to put their bodies on the line.
Scunthorpe looked muscular and composed at the back, strong in midfield and lightning quick when they attacked – that pace bringing about the second and third goals.
The visitors had experience in most positions and the luxury of a player like Sam Mantom on the bench.
For Town, only Ched Evans looked like a match for his markers, although he too was well marshaled for the majority.
Some of his team-mates looked out of their depth in the second half, others were anonymous.
When Wilson looked at his bench during the second half, he had very little in the way of game changing substitutions.
Rai Simons, just days after disappointing his manager by refusing to go out on loan, made a surprise cameo in the final 10 minutes, after Reece Mitchell and Dan Gardner had come on, only the latter making any kind of impact.
It was no surprise that freescoring Scunthorpe, looking for a reaction after a midweek defeat, started brightly.
Chesterfield’s season-long problem with set-pieces almost reared its ugly head again, Levi Sutton allowed to run onto an early corner completely unmarked, his cross-cum-shot blocked and cleared.
Had that gone in, most in the ground would have feared a shellacking.
It wasn’t until the 18th minute that visiting keeper Luke Daniels had anything to do, taking a well hit Evans shot relatively comfortably.
Chesterfield’s problem wasn’t so much breaking up attacks to win back the ball, it was keeping possession once they had it, Jay O’Shea and Gboly Ariyibi getting little joy on the flanks, unable to provide an outlet.
But midway through the half Danny Wilson’s men did manage to fashion a very good chance and both O’Shea and Ariyibi were involved, the former finding the latter who crossed for Evans, the striker’s header flashing just wide.
That was really as close as Evans would come to finding the net all afternoon, the Welshman putting in plenty of effort but struggling to free himself from the shackles placed on him by the Scunthorpe defence.
Scunthorpe’s ability to transition from defence to attack in no time at all was evidenced when Dion Donohue made a mistake on halfway and seconds later Josh Morris shot just wide.
There were chances for both sides in a see-saw end to the first half, Ricky German putting the ball just past the post on his professional debut before Ariyibi had a shot deflected wide.
An errant Donohue free-kick allowed Scunthorpe to break once more, Paddy Madden going clean through only to be denied by the legs of Fulton – a huge stop to prevent a goal at what would have been a horrible time to concede.
The keeper could only look on in horror shortly after the break as a Morris free-kick, conceded needlessly on the right by Jon Nolan, evaded everyone and crept in at the far post.
Three minutes after the interval was just as bad a time to let one in.
Town heads dropped, Scunthorpe tails were up and it felt like a matter of time before they struck again.
With an hour gone the game was as good as done, Duane Holmes showing his blistering pace to take play from deep inside his own half to the edge of the Town box, feeding Kevin Van Veen who fired the ball through Fulton’s legs for a 2-0 lead.
That goal displayed the major difference between the two sides, the confidence and ability to leave opposition players trailing and a clinical finish.
Gardner looked lively after his introduction but there was no end product for the Spireites, whose frustration and dismay was compounded by the third goal, Van Veen playing in replacement Mantom who finished low and hard past Fulton.
The goal sparked a mass exodus at the Proact and resigned Town to more boos and an unenviable record of just one win in 11 league matches.
A 3-0 scoreline reflected the gulf that currently exists between top of the table Scunthorpe and second from bottom Town.
It also increases the pressure on a Spireites squad desperately short on confidence.
Chesterfield: Fulton, O’Neil (Simons 82), Donohue, Hird, Anderson, Liddle, Nolan, Ariyibi, O’Shea (Mitchell 70), Evans, German (Gardner 61). Subs: Allinson, Evatt, Dimaio, Graham.
Scunthorpe United: Daniels 7, Sutton 7, Townsend 7, Mirfin 8, Wallace 8, Holmes 8 (Mantom 73), Morris 8 (Goode 86), Dawson 8 (Smallwood 79), Bishop 7, Madden 7, Van Veen 8. Subs: Anyon, Hopper, Margetts, Ness.
Attendance: 6,328 (1,152 away)