Exeter City kept up their hopes for automatic promotion with a vital 2-1 win over Chesterfield at St James Park.
Jayden Stockley opened the scoring for the Grecians in the first half before an own goal from Alex Whitmore put City two goals to the good.
The Spireites hit back through Andy Kellett late on but the Grecians did well to hold onto a precious three points.
Match report sponsored by Speedy Freight
The Grecians made two changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Accrington Stanley last weekend as Luke Croll and Robbie Simpson came into the starting XI with the City looking to keep up the pressure on Wycombe Wanderers, who occupy the third automatic promotion spot.
City began brightly with Hiram Boateng looking to get the Grecians going in midfield, and their good start almost paid off on eight minutes when the midfielder ran at the Spireites’ defence before playing in Stockley, whose low effort was kept out by Aaron Ramsdale.
But the away side, who were just as eager to claim the three points, also looked dangerous in the opening 15 minutes through a succession of corners just after Louis Dodds found a bit of space and shot at goal but his effort was well blocked by the City defence.
Shortly after, Lloyd James did excellently to break down the right-hand side before unleashing a powerful effort which dipped just in front of a diving Ramsdale, who just about dealt with the attempt as he pushed the ball past the post for a corner.
City continued to look dangerous and were getting most of their joy in behind the Chesterfield defence with Kane Wilson and Boateng the willing runners. Both players got to the by-line on a couple of occasions in quick succession and looked to cut the ball back but for some dogged defending, as the away side just about managed to clear.
In their best move of the half so far, the Grecians were inches from going ahead when Jordan Storey, Luke Croll and Boateng did brilliantly well in a tight space to eventually set Wilson free down the left and his cross was met by Robbie Simpson, but a vital interception saw the ball over the bar for a City corner.
And that set piece led to City’s opener on 38 minutes when the ball broke to Jake Taylor on the right and his cross was met by Stockley whose header had enough power on it to take the ball past Ramsdale to give the City number 11 his 22nd goal of the season as City took a deserved lead into the break.
With the away side in need of points they came into the second half looking to commit more men forward as the game began to open up with both sides looking to counter-attack at speed.
City fans breathed a huge sigh of relief just before the hour mark when a cross came in and James tried to flick the ball away but inadvertently headed the ball against his own post before the ball fell to George Smith, whose shot was straight at Christy Pym as he punched the ball over from close range.
As the half wore on the Grecians searched to go further ahead with Boateng continuing to get into good positions before crossing dangerously as Jack Lester’s side defended resolutely under pressure.
Pierce Sweeney was next to have an attempt at goal on 74 minutes when City worked a short free-kick which was laid back to the Irishman who struck well and forced a smart save from Ramsdale who tipped over.
That City dominance paid dividends in the 74th minute when they found their second of the match after Boateng’s dangerous cross caused havoc in the Chesterfield penalty box before the ball took a touch off of Whitmore to end up in the net.
But the away side pulled one back just eight minutes from time after playing the ball around the edge of the City box before the ball was played into Kellett who fired in past Pym to set up a slightly nervy final 10 minutes at St James Park.
But credit to the Grecians who managed the remaining minutes well as they claimed a vital three points.
Exeter City: Pym, Sweeney, James, Tillson, Simpson (Jay, 62), Stockley, Wilson, Croll, Taylor, Storey, Boateng
Subs not used: Jones, Archibald-Henville, Brunt, Seaborne, Edwards, Loft
Chesterfield: Ramsdale, Dennis, O’Grady (Brown, 74), Smith, Dodds, McGuire, Reed, Barry, Weir (Kellett, 69), Whitmore (Rowley, 80), Nelson
Subs not used: Anyon, Talbot, Kellett, McCourt, Hines
Attendance: 3,560 (Inc, 134, away)
SJP: Somewhere Just Perfect!
Early Bird Season Tickets are now on sale and will allow you to guarantee your perfect spot in the ground. Increased attendances mean seats are at a premium, so buy or renew your season ticket early to guarantee your place at next season’s games! Click here to find out more.