It was a day to remember for Dan Gardner, a goal and a win in his first league start as Chesterfield triumphed.
Chesterfield started the game on the front foot and Gardner, in particular, looked lively early on.
The former Celtic prospect, who signed from FC Halifax Town earlier this month, forced the game’s first corner when his deft flick from Humphreys’ cross was deflected behind.
Gardner took the corner, played a neat interchange with Roberts, and crossed for Cooper whose effort was cleared from inside the six yard box by a covering Northampton defender.
The hosts looked to break with speed and a precise through ball sent Hope away only for Darikwa to halt the striker’s progress with a well-timed tackle. Darikwa, who was operating at right back in Talbot’s absence, made another crunching tackle just moments later, this time on German.
Spireites had dominated the opening exchanges but it was Northampton who went ahead following their first corner of the game.
The inswinging delivery was headed on by Collins and fell for Hope who was bundled over by Lee in the visitors’ goal.
The Chesterfield keeper escaped without a caution though was unable to keep out the following penalty. Cobblers captain, CARTER, took responsibility and sent Lee the wrong way to put his side into an unlikely lead as the rain began to pour down on Sixfields.
Chesterfield needed a quick response and it was GARDNER who looked the most likely to provide it. He showed good footwork on the edge of the area to evade the attentions of Widdowson before he fired a shot narrowly wide of Duke’s right hand post.
The Northampton keeper looked to have it covered but he could do nothing about Gardner’s next effort moments later.
It came after a quick free kick released the midfielder, who had no hesitation in unleashing a thunderous shot from a tight angle, which flew past Duke at his near post.
Such was the power of the shot it ripped the net from the goal frame.
The wet and blustery conditions made it difficult for both sets of players as puddles began to form on the pitch. A sequence of long throws from Tozer asked questions of the Chesterfield defence that they just about answered as the game petered out for half-time.
Following a half-time pitch inspection, referee Graham Horwood gave the go aheadfor the second half to at least begin. Though, with puddles all over the pitch, questions were raised as to whether it would finish.
Both sides came out early to give themselves an extra few minutes to get to grips with the conditions of the pitch. Short passes and quick turns were made before the referee blew for the game to commence.
And, within minutes, the sun broke through the clouds to restore a slither of hope of a result at Sixfields.
The hosts were first to test their opposing keeper when Deegan fired low from the edge of the area but Lee was equal to it.
Chesterfield capitalised on a defensive slip by Hurst and Doyle sent ROBERTS through. The winger’s first effort was blocked but when the ball fell for him the second time, he had the presence of mind to hook a shot over Duke and into an empty net.
Spireites, who had adapted to the conditions much better than their opponents, were beginning to enjoy themselves. Roberts ran the length of the pitch but Duke was quick off his line to clear. Gardner’s afternoon came to an end 15 minutes from time when he was replaced by O’Shea and left the field to a standing ovation by the visiting support.
Northampton had a glorious chance to pull level when Widdowson’s left wing cross caused confusion in the visitors’ penalty area. The ball was bobbling around and when it finally fell loose, Humphreys made a crucial sliding clearance to deny Tozer from slotting into an empty net.
The hosts pressed for an equaliser but GNANDUILLET made the points safe when he raced on to a long clearance from Evatt and slotted the ball under the advancing Duke.