A freak Caolan Lavery debut goal on 68 gave Chesterfield a rare but deserved win at Meadow Lane.
Manager Paul Cook, who had his own contract extended to 2017 this week, has brought in five new faces during the transfer window but only Caolan Lavery starts alongside fit again Armand Gnanduillet in attack. Ian Evatt returns at the back to boost the physicality to cope with giant Hungarian striker Balint Bajner.
Shaun Derry’s Magpies themselves brought in seven players last month as he looks to turn around a run of just one win in 11 games. Experienced Alan Smith returns for County.
An all action first half but down to some fine goalkeeping, it was goalless at the break.
Chesterfield were backed by a significant following for the game began on a pitch that is clearly not in the A1 category; County share with the City’s Rugby Union club, and the pitch no doubt played a part in the selection of Evatt ahead of Raglan, although his solid showing off the bench last week against Doncaster will have been the greater part of the selection dilemma.
Lavery made a turn on the right corner of the box and drove a low ball in that eluded both keeper Carroll and striker Gnanduillet as the game started cautiously.
Hollis was booked for a foul on Gnanduillet.
Clucas forced a good close range save from Carroll after a brilliant O’Shea run but from the break out Bajner shot just wide showing the speed County are capable of getting forwards.
Clucas’s header from Jones’ free-kick was caught by Carroll, who had one of the games of his life at the Proact in the 1-1 draw earlier this season.
Hayhurst delivered from the left, Bajner gathered and Lee made a superb block but the loose ball fell kindly for the striker who then hit wide from three yards.
Thompson raced by Hird, who’d slipped and his close ranger ran up Lee’s leg and clipped the post before being cleared.
Hird made a tackle and Ryan set O’Shea off. His ball to Lavery saw the Owls loanee’s angled shot palmed wide by Carroll and from the corner Gnanduillet headed wide.
Ryan’s left footed volley was gathered at the second time of asking by Carroll as the game continued at pace. Adams darted into the box and Lee had to save at his feet and the keeper had to repeat the feat to deny Noble.
O’Shea’s free-kick found Gnanduillet but he under hit the header though it fell for Lavery whose close ranger was blocked on the line.
Gnanduillet’s header was straight forward for Carroll as Chesterfield restarted positively. O’Shea should have hit the target, he shot high, after Clucas’s run and pass.
Bajner’s shot clipped an ankle to earn County’s first corner, Morsy cleared. Bajner was denied by Hird as the hosts started to get into the action. Ryan’s cross won Chesterfield a corner on the right, Clucas delivered and the ball just eluded Carroll but was cleared and County rapidly made ground but didn’t make the most of their advantage.
Gnanduillet headed Ryan’s cross just over at the visitor’s bossed play, Carroll had to stoop low to halt O’Shea’s low effort.
Jones replaced Smith for Notts. Lavery’s shot was under hit and Carroll gathered as Spireites pressure needed to lead to a goal to avoid the risk of a County counter-attack.
That lead came on the 68th minute. A long ball from Evatt bounced over Hollis and he went in to pass back from 35 yards but as the ball came down and the defender kicked, LAVERY got a foot in and the ball looped miles over Carroll to give Chesterfield a deserved, if freak, lead.
Adams conceded a corner as the goal buoyed the Blues.
Harrison came on for Lavery. Dumbuya won a corner, though the full-back claimed his cross hit Jones’s hand. A second corner resulted but O’Shea cleared. Thomas replaced Noble.
Darikwa was booked for a foul on Hayhurst. Carroll arrived just in time to nick the ball off the toe of Harrison. Hird was booked for a foul on Garry Thompson.
Hollis escaped a second yellow when he pulled down Harrison 25 yards out. O’Shea hit high. Dieseruvwe replaced Gnanduillet.
Five minutes of additional time wasn’t what Spireites’ 1,838 fans wanted to see but the visitors didn’t come under any late pressure to risk their lead. Notts: Carroll, Dumbuya, Adams, Smith, Mullins, Hollis, Hayhurst, C.Thompson, Noble, Woolery, Bajner. Subs: Pilkington, G.Thompson, Thomas, Jones, White, Daniels, Edwards.
Chesterfield: Lee, Darikwa, Hird, Evatt, Jones, O’Shea, Morsy, Ryan, Clucas, Gnanduillet, Lavery. Subs: Chapman, Raglan, Humphreys, Duffy, Harrison, Dieseruvwe, Banks.
Ref: Keith Stroud (Dorset).