Read via the Football League Paper
Chesterfield were left staring down the barrel of losing their Football League status for the first time since 1921 following defeat to fierce rivals Mansfield Town.
Any hope of survival salvaged from the Spireites’ comeback against Morecambe in their previous game were dashed by David Flitcroft’s first win as Mansfield Town boss at the ninth attempt.
Mal Benning found the target on 67 minutes and the Stags held out for a first victory since February 17 – moving Mansfield up to 7th – and Flitcroft said the win was the most important of his career to date.
“It means everything, it’s one of the most important victories I’ve ever had,” said the 44-year-old, after seeing his side fire themselves back into contention for a play-off position.
“It’s not really set in yet what the lads have done. They gave everything to the cause.
“In the last 20 minutes we had to dig in and stand firm to keep a clean sheet.
“I’ve wanted this from day one, I’ve not been able to get it and I really believe that today will drive the next part of the plan and allow us to win football matches constantly.”
Chesterfield have now lost six of their last ten games and rely on results going their way to have any hope of survival.
And boss Jack Lester believes his side’s performance wasn’t befitting of a derby game.
“I don’t think we quite lived up to the needle of the game,” he said.
“I’m extremely disappointed. Points are massive but that game, there’s needle in it and rightly so because of the histories of the clubs.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever lost one and it’s really disappointing.
“I thought it was a 0-0 but we didn’t have the cutting edge.
“It wasn’t a great back four we played against and to not score against them is disappointing.”
The basement club hosted the side at the bottom of the division’s form table, but it was Mansfield who should have opened the scoring on three minutes when Alfie Potter fired wide.
Danny Rose went even closer, but the Stags’ leading scorer fluffed his lines and shot straight at the ‘keeper from close range.
Chesterfield might have punished Mansfield’s inefficiency in front of goal, but Zavon Hines and Kristian Dennis were both denied by Conrad Logan.
Lester looked for physicality in Chris O’Grady after the break, but the switch was in vain as the Stags went ahead on 67 minutes thanks to a piledriving strike from Benning from 18 yards.
Mansfield then looked to defend their precious lead and Chesterfield produced little of any concern for the Stags, with the Spireites rooted to the bottom seven points from safety.