Chesterfield failed to take their chances once again as they slipped to a fourth straight defeat on their visit to table-topping Burton Albion.
A goal in first half stoppage time from midfielder Calum Butcher was enough to consign the Spireites to their 18th defeat of the season.
That solitary striker was the 50th goal conceded by Chesterfield in League One this season and helped Burton register their tenth single goal triumph of the campaign.
Familiarity was the theme of the evening as Chesterfield had plenty of play but once again they were unable to convert ball and territory into goals.
Manager Danny Wilson went into the game without his two first choice strikers. Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (hamstring) and Lee Novak (foot & illness) were replaced by Rai Simons, on his first start since November, and Gboly Ariyibi in a 4-4-1-1 formation with Jay O’Shea playing behind the former.
After a quiet opening in which the visitors were marginally the better side, Wilson was soon forced into another change when a Stuart Beavon shot flew straight into Liam O’Neil’s face. The right-back fell to the ground and, after lengthy treatment, was stretchered off with his neck in a brace. He was immediately taken to hospital for an x-ray. Drew Talbot moved to the back four with Dan Gardner coming on.
Ahead of the injury, a long-range O’Shea free-kick and a Talbot effort had come closest for the visitors while, between the stoppage and the fourth official holding up the seven-minute marker, a trio of Albion corners were the home side’s most dangerous moments.
Sam Hird headed just wide from an O’Shea free-kick but the key moment came seconds after the overtime marker was displayed.
Butcher was able receive from former Spireite loanee Mark Duffy, turn and shoot just inside the post to score just the sort of goal, in type and time, that has haunted Spireites throughout this season.
Simons hit an angled shot just over the bar at the start of the second half after a neat O’Shea flick-on while Beavon volleyed wide from a cross from Chesterfield born ex-Spireite loan man Mason Bennett.
Ariyibi whipped in a testing cross that earned a corner but Nigel Clough’s Albion’s savvy defence cleared as the Spireites, an hour into the game, still sought their first on-target effort.
Back to back Burton corners ended when Tommy Lee had to gather Damien McCrory’s heavily deflected shot ahead of a Talbot left-footer which forced Jon McLaughlin’s first save.
With Ariyibi and sub Mani Dieseruvwe playing down the middle, the Spireites again began to rack up the possession count, deliver the crosses and do everything bar create a gilt-edged chance.
Burton created one of their own but Dion Donohue defended brilliantly to clear from Beavon’s ball in with Tom Naylor poised to tap-in to wrap up the contest.
Keeper Lee had to block a strike from Beavon as the Spireites ran out of ideas and steam to ensure next week’s games at fellow strugglers Colchester United and at home to Crewe Alexandra become must win contests.
Burton: McLaughlin, Edwards, Cansdell-Sherriff (Flanagan 76), Mousinho, Weir, Butcher (Reilly 84), McCrory, Naylor, Duffy, Bennett (Akins 76), Beavon. Subs not used: Bywater, Harness, O’Connor, Thiele.
Chesterfield: Lee, O’Neil (Gardner 29), Hird, Anderson, Donohue, Talbot, Herd (Banks 55), Liddle, Ariyibi, O’Shea, Simons (Dieseruvwe. 62) Subs not used: Chapman, Humphreys, Dimaio, Maguire.
Ref: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire)
Attendance: 4489 (1078 away)