Mal Benning was the derby day hero as his second half strike saw Mansfield Town win 1-0 in one of the most crucial ever games between the two bitter enemies at the Proact Stadium this afternoon.
In a typically tense derby game, short on real chances, left back Benning struck on 67 minutes to settle the points and give new Stags boss David Flitcroft his first win at the ninth attempt.
It was Mansfield’s first victory in 10 games and kept alive their hopes of making the play-offs.
It was also another nail in the relegation coffin of the Spireites.
Danny Rose saw the best chance of the first half saved by keeper Aaron Ramsdale’s legs, though Conrad Logan did have two stops to make at the other end.
Mansfield knew failure to win could be the end of their promotion dream.
So when Benning lashed home the winner, it sparked joyous celebrations behind that goal as over 2,700 visiting fans went wild.
Mansfield then defended superbly as the desperate home side threw all they could at them in vain.
The Stags side showed four changes from the team that drew 1-1 at Stevenage in midweek.
Zander Diamond replaced Rhys Bennett in the centre of defence while Benning returned from a three-game ban to replace Johnny Hunt at left back.
There were also two changes in midfield where Jacob Mellis and Alfie Potter came in for CJ Hamilton and Joel Byrom, who both dropped to the bench.
Evatt produced a great tackle on Rose in the opening minute as Potter tried to send him away down the middle.
On three minutes Benning forced Ramsdale into a save, but the keeper couldn’t hold onto the ball and home fans jeered as Potter sent the follow-up over the bar.
A minute later the home side threatened for the first time as Kellett sent a great pass down the centre that Dennis was inches away from latching onto.
Referee Drysdale, rarely popular with the Stags fans, had the visitors upset when Macguire’s late tackle appeared to clean out Hemmings in full flight and the referee gave only a goalkick.
Brown pulled a low shot harmlessly wide for Chesterfield on 10 minutes.
A head injury for Kellett saw him play on with a bandage around the wound.
Two flying tackles in succession by Talbot had the home fans in fully voice as the drama continued.
But Mansfield should have gone ahead on 20 minutes. Benning curled in a delightful low cross from the left right in front of goal where Rose, from six yards, saw his finish kept out by Ramsdale’s legs.
There was more danger for Mansfield when Dennis helped the ball on and, at full stretch, Maguire was able to flick the ball at goal on 28 minutes. Logan blocked, but it ran loose towards Hines, Potter sliding in with a crucial block to stop him having a shy at the empty net.
Soon after a home fan ran onto the pitch straight at the away fans but slipped over and was rapidly dealt with by the stewards.
Stags lost White to injury on 32 minutes, replaced by Bennett.
Three minutes later the whistle went for offside, Dennis lifted the ball over the bar after the whistle was gone but Brown was the one shown a yellow card.
Logan was back in action on 41 minutes after Dennis had turned Diamond to cut in from the right and lashed a low shot that the keeper had to save.
That gave us the game’s first corner from which Reed’s poor shot saw Maguire try a cheeky backheel on en route, but Logan was there.
Dennis had a nibble at Atkinson’s ankle as he raced upfield to no avail. Stags went on to win their first corner and the referee went back to book Dennis in the first of three added minutes.
But a tense half finished goalless.
Stags won a free kick near the corner flag at the start of the second half, but Benning’s kick was inches too high for Diamond to reach at the far post.
Stags then had to clear a home corner and, soon after, Kellett sent a low shot on the turn wide.
Hamilton replaced Mellis for the Stags on 53 minutes.
A Benning ball into the Chesterfield box caused chaos and a scramble with Maguire diving in to make a vital clearance.
MacDonald was booked for his foul on Kellett on 61 minutes.
Weir was then added to the book for his foul on 64 minutes.
The deadlock was finally broken on 67 minutes as Mansfield worked the ball down the left. Benning got just inside the box and drilled a low shot goalwards which clipped Evatt as he dived in to make the tackle and the ball flew inside the far post to spark huge celebrations behind the goal.
With 11 minutes to go sub Dodds took charge of a Mansfield clearance to the edge of the box and lashed a low shot that Dennis was agonising inches away from turning home en route.
McCourt became the fourth Spireite booked on 83 minutes for arguing a decision with referee Drysdale.
Logan was up well to grab a Maguire header at the far post as the minutes slipped away for the home side.
Striker Hemmings was replaced by midfielder King at this point as Stags tried to shut up shop.
Stags cleared a home corner as the game went into five added minutes.
Reed appeared to haul Rose back as he tried to break clear and the referee pulled out a red card, only to see an offside flag already up and Reed escaped his intended punishment.
But the home side had no late drama to produce as Stags held on to a crucial victory over the auld enemy.
CHESTERFIELD: Ramsdale, Evatt, Dennis, Smith, Maguire, Talbot, Kennett, Reid, Weir (McCourt 73), Hines (O’Grady 59), Brown (Dodds 69). Subs not used: Anyon, Rowley, Barry, Nelson.
STAGS: Logan; White (Bennett 32), Pearce, Diamond, Benning; Potter, Mellis (Hamilton 53), MacDonald, Atkinson; Hemmings (King 85), Rose, Subs not used: Olejnik, Hunt, Byrom, Angol.
REFEREE: Darren Drysdale of Lincolnshire.
ATTENDANCE: 7,967 (2,617 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Mal Benning.