Jack Lester said his players didn’t live up to the ‘needle’ of today’s big derby, after he suffered his first ever defeat to Mansfield Town.
The Chesterfield boss, who won all three of his games against the Stags as a player, watched on in despair as the Stags won 1-0 at the Proact Stadium.
A bitterly disappointing result at any stage of the season took on extra weight given the league position Chesterfield find themselves in - rock bottom of League Two with five games remaining.
A goal from Mal Benning midway through the second half was the difference and Lester, who was involved in a verbal spat with a pair of fans outside the hospitality suite after his press duties, bemoaned his side’s lack of cutting edge in attack.
“Extremely disappointed. Points are massive but that fixture, there’s needle in it and rightly so because of the past,” he said.
“It’s the first time I’ve lost one to them and it’s really disappointing.
“That hurt. It’s not just being 10 miles down the road, there’s more than that. I get it.
“There will be families hurting from that result today.
“I’ve never lost to them before and it’s difficult because I get why it means so much.
“You feel for the fans, there’s nothing I can say, they’re not going to be my biggest fan at the minute and there’s nothing I can say to make it better.
“I don’t think we quite lived up to the needle of the game.
“I thought it was a 0-0 game again. We didn’t have that cutting edge.”
Lester brought Ian Evatt back into the team after months out with injury and although the centre-half put in a Man of the Match performance, Town’s struggles in the opposition half were costly.
“Evo, we threw him in because we felt it was a poor defensive performance on Tuesday and I thought he was outstanding, he kept the back four together really well. He and Loz were really good, I thought Drew Talbot was really good,” said Lester of his defenders.
“We kept their little bits of attacks at bay, but because we didn’t attack very well and because we weren’t very good on the ball, very basic errors of not passing it to your own coloured shirt, we couldn’t get that momentum that would have lifted the whole stadium.
“We never really passed two of three times to our own shirt, we did once or twice and nearly got in.
“I wouldn’t say that’s a great back four they played against, to not score against that is disappointing.
“It was basic technical detail.
“We wanted our wide players to be a little bit wider than that in the first half. There were numerous chances to get the wide men one v one and it wasn’t done with enough conviction.
“We didn’t really look like scoring, even when we went quite direct, we never got the second touch in the box.
“It was a lack of quality today.”
The last time Chesterfield played at the Proact they played Notts County off the park in a huge win.
There was no sign of that confidence in possession today however.
“It’s inconsistent,” said Lester.
“I haven’t seen any team play as well as our best, and we’re bottom.
“That comes from your preparation, your mindset. I wouldn’t say they’re a confident group and I get that.
“We’ve tried to be as positive as we can with the league position we came into and it’s difficult, you can’t blag it, you can improve what you’ve got and we felt we’d been doing that.
“But the last four games, I don’t know if the pressure is a little bit high, but it’s just not been there.”
When asked what was needed for Town to turn things around, Lester admitted they need their attackers to get them out of trouble and they also need luck to avoid the drop.
“You need a little matchwinner. You’re hoping something drops for Denno or Kels might give you a bit of magic but when they don’t you’re looking elsewhere, where is that goal going to come from?
“We need a bit of luck. We need Grimsby to win and hope Forest Green don’t win, then win your next two games and you’re out the bottom two.
“That’ll be the mindset.
“It’s difficult when you lose to your bitter rivals because you don’t feel confident but if results go our way we’ll have to be.”