MATCH REPORT: Chesterfield 0-1 Mansfield Town - Spireites suffer derby day defeat
A cagey game was there for the taking, before Mansfield took it with their only real chance of the second half - Mal Benning driving a nail into the home side’s coffin.
The Spireites yet again failed to do enough to win and remain rooted to the bottom of the League Two table after the 1-0 defeat to their most bitter of rivals.
Not even the return to fitness of talismanic centre-half Ian Evatt could inspire Jack Lester’s side, against a Stags team winless in nine and on this showing not exactly full of confidence.
Evatt took just 40 seconds to introduce himself to the action, sliding in with a vital tackle to halt Danny Rose on the edge of the box.
Mansfield had a big chance early on, Hayden White beating Zavon Hines with ease before the visitors worked the ball left, Mal Benning’s drive parried by Aaron Ramsdale, Alfie Potter finding the Kop with the goal gaping.
Chesterfield’s brightest moment of a tense opening five minutes was a lovely through ball from Andy Kellett that dissected the Stags back line, Kristian Dennis just unable to reach it.
The game settled down into an even contest with little in the way of goalmouth action at either end, until a chance for the visitors that should have brought the opening goal.
Benning skipped around Jacob Brown and whipped an excellent early ball across the Town box, Rose getting a touch only to be denied by the legs of Ramsdale.
The Spireites forged an opportunity of their own through the determination of Laurence Maguire, the centre-half staying up after a free-kick was cleared, gambling on a Kristian Dennis flick to challenge Conrad Logan and help the ball to the back post where Zavon Hines could only steer wide.
With four minutes left in the half a Smith long ball released Dennis on the right and he cut into the box to draw a smart stop from Logan.
The second half had a cagey start, Stags perhaps enjoying the best of it without really troubling the hosts.
Just before the hour mark Jack Lester made a change in personnel and formation, withdrawing the ineffective Hines and sending on Chris O’Grady to partner Dennis in attack.
The targetman was just beaten to a Dennis cross just a couple of minutes after coming on, when an awful cross turned a Stags attack into a Town counter attack.
Mansfield took the lead on 67 minutes when Benning, who had been a threat all afternoon, got in behind the defence on the left and sent a shot into the far bottom corner of the net.
The immediate response from the home side was poor, aimless balls lumped hopefully in the vague direction of O’Grady.
But with just over 10 minutes remaining the Spireites started to get on top, Jak McCourt lashing a 25-yard shot against a defender, fellow replacement Louis Dodds’ off-target effort almost redirected goalwards by Dennis.
Five minutes of added time did little for the home side, who had Reed sent off for hauling down a clean through Rose, before the assistant referee’s offside flag saw the decision reversed.
A series of long balls were pumped forward as Chesterfield desperately sought an equaliser that would never come.
Chesterfield: Ramsdale 7, Talbot 6, Smith 5, Evatt 7, Maguire 7, Weir 6 (McCourt 73), Reed 5, Brown 4 (Dodds 69), Hines 3 (O’Grady 59), Kellett 4, Dennis 5. Subs: Anyon, Rowley, Barry, Nelson.
Mansfield: Logan 7, White7 (Bennett 32), Benning 7, Diamond 7, Pearce 7, Potter 5, Atkinson 6, MacDonald 6, Mellis 6 (CJ Hamilton 53), Rose 5, Hemmings 6 (King 85). Subs: Olejnik, Hunt, Angol, Byrom.
Referee: Darren Drysdale. Assistants: Marvyn Amphlett, Kevin Mulraine.
Goalscorers: Benning 67
Yellows: Brown 34, Dennis 45, Weir 64, McCourt 83; Potter 61, Hemmings 68
Attendance: 7,967 (2,617 away)