CHESTERFIELD stretched their lead at the top of the table to eight points with a well-deserved victory at in-form Lincoln City.
Craig Davies continued his resurgence by taking advantage of an error to put Chesterfield ahead, though soon after that he saw a penalty saved by Trevor Carson.
Gavin McCallum had an effort chalked off for offside for the Imps before Dean Holden headed in from a Danny Whitaker corner to confirm the destination of the points.
It was the defender’s first goal in just over two years, when he scored for Falkirk at Motherwell, and his first in England since September 2006, when he was a Peterborough player.
The hosts, with six wins and a draw in their previous eight games, were soon under the cosh as Chesterfield started brightly.
With Mark Allott out with an ankle injury, Javan Vidal ill, Deane Smalley suspended and Whitaker on the bench, John Sheridan made four changes to the side that picked up a point having battled well at Bury.
In came Ian Breckin, Derek Niven, Ian Morris and, for his first league start of the season, Scott Boden whilst Drew Talbot wore the captain’s armband for the first time.
The impressive Morris fired just wide and Kieran Djilali got in a shot but Steve Tilson’s City won the game’s first corner after Tommy Lee saved from Stephen Hunt.
From it, Talbot wellied clear, Davies was unable to control and Julian Kelly turned the ball back to former Spireites keeper Carson.
With the pitch damp and bobbly, the ball bounced up and struck the Ulsterman on the knee, rendering control impossible.
Davies, sensing the danger, closed him down, flicked the ball beyond the keeper and was able to walk the ball in to an unguarded goal to register his 17th goal of the season.
Davies had the chance to double his tally when Adam Watts inexplicably hauled him over in the box.
With spot king Whitaker on the bench, Davies took the responsibility and placed his shot low and too central, allowing Carson to atone for his earlier howler.
Chesterfield continued to boss the game, though they had to reorganise when Simon Ford departed the field with an injury. Holden moved from right-back to centre-half and Talbot took over the full-back duties.
Watts blocked a header from sub Whitaker on the line and Carson scooped away Davies’s header from the same attack as City’s goal looked vulnerable and the Spireites looked like a table-topping side.
Davies drilled a shot just wide in the first seconds of the second half, Boden just failed to get a touch on it at the far post and Carson then had to make his best save of the game to deny Gregor Robertson, whose header from Morris’s cross looked destined to find the target.
Holden was forced to show his defensive qualities with a superb tackle on Delroy Facey before, on 73 minutes, McCallum reacted quickest to a Carson hoof out, but an offside flag denied him as he slide the ball into the net from an angle.
The game was settled when Holden headed in his rare goal, though Davies, right on the line, reacted as if he’d got a touch, but he was happy, post match, to confirm it was Holden’s goal.
Davies said: “I got a touch on it, definitely, but he’s got the goal, so I don’t really mind; it’s irrelevant!”
Former Miller Holden’s reaction was: “Davo was trying to claim it, it doesn’t matter who scores, but Jack Lester was telling him ‘shut up, you were nowhere near it’.
“It took a bit of pressure off us near the end. It was my first goal for about two years.
“I’d been looking at the Gaffer on the bench and he’d been saying ‘go up for it’ and Ian Morris turned round and said ‘go and get one’ and it just dropped over Ian Breckin’s head and it was about knee high and I flicked it.
“I didn’t see it go in. I just heard the roar of the crowd. It just trickled in because it didn’t have much power on it.”
The game ended with a personal triumph for Jamie Lowry, who managed a few seconds of action for the first time after 16 months out with a cruciate injury.
I thought we were excellent. I knew it would be a tough game with the form they’re in; they were always going to be a big threat. We dominated the game, I was very comfortable with how we played after starting very well.
When you get that first goal it gives you a bit of belief and it gave us a lift. We kept Facey and Grimes, who’ve been a threat, quiet and nullified the chance that they had. We were right on our game. We had six or seven players who played really well and if you get that usually you’ll get a positive result.
Craig Davies has to play to his strengths and when he plays high up the pitch the defenders know they’re in for a game. He’s willing and always hustling and bustling and he’ll get the opportunities - and if you’re there, one or two fall for you.