YORK City have now failed to beat Chesterfield in 18 meetings and last night’s encounter probably provided one of the most comprehensive defeats during that sorry run.
Not since Dean Kiely was keeping goal and Glenn Naylor (2) and Ian Blackstone were on the scoresheet during a 3-1 away victory in April 1992 have the Minstermen beaten their Derbyshire nemesis.
That record never really looked like changing once the high-flying visitors were gifted a second-minute lead by an uncharacteristic David McGurk blunder.
Eoin Doyle was the man to profit and Gary Roberts went on to add a deserved second on 39 minutes with the home side failing to get to grips with Chesterfield’s fluent three-man midfield all night.
City boss Nigel Worthington gave John McCombe his full debut for the club alongside McGurk in defence with Keith Lowe switching to right-back and Lanre Oyebanjo pushing further up the wing.
Adam Reed was also handed his first start since rejoining the club from Burton in place of the suspended Lewis Montrose, while Michael Coulson dropped to the bench.
The first half-hour, though, was the most one-sided City have been involved in this season with Worthington’s men chasing shadows for long periods as the visitors kept possession with an ease that suggested they had a couple of extra players in the pitch.
City’s task was not made any easier, though, by McGurk’s early mistake.
The skipper attempted to intercept a forward pass from Roberts on the edge of the penalty area, only for his control to let him down and leave Doyle clear on goal after the ball had squirmed under his foot.
Doyle then showed no mercy, lashing an unstoppable 12-yard shot past the helpless Nick Pope.
The on-loan Charlton shot-stopper probably had no right either to save a firm five-yard effort by Roberts from Ollie Banks’ brilliant cross three minutes later.
But Pope displayed remarkable reflexes to tip the astonished Roberts’ effort over the crossbar and save his side from further early embarrassment.
Banks went on to drill a 20-yard attempt into Pope’s chest before Oyebanjo managed the hosts’ only shot of the first period – a 33rd-minute volley inside the penalty box that Chesterfield ’keeper Tommy Lee did well to push around his right-hand upright.
A rapid counter-attack, led by Dan Gardner, though, saw the visitors double their advantage before the interval.
Former Halifax attacker Gardner charged from one penalty box to the other with the ball and, when Ben Davies failed to stop him in his tracks, fed an overlapping Roberts, who drove confidently past a terribly-exposed Pope again from ten yards.
The half-time whistle probably came as a relief to an outclassed City but was greeted by boos from certain sections of the crowd.
After the break, Wes Fletcher got his first sight of goal on a frustrating night but, after hooking a shot over the advancing Lee on 57 minutes, Doyle cleared before the ball could cross the line.
At the other end, Spireites sub Marc Richards appeared to be denied a cast-iron penalty when he was tripped by Davies but that never looked like proving a turning point despite Josh Carson driving wide from 25 yards soon afterwards.
Nick Pope 7
Keith Lowe 6
David McGurk 5
John McCombe 6
Ben Davies 5
Lanre Oyebanjo 5
Adam Reed 6
Russell Penn 5
Josh Carson 5
Ryan Bowman 5
Wes Fletcher 6
Subs: Will Hayhurst 55 min, 6 (for Oyebanjo), Michael Coulson 74 (for Bowman), Tom Platt 87 (for McGurk 87). Not used: Shaquille McDonald, Tom Allan, Michael Ingham, Chris Dickinson.
City star man: Nick Pope – provided City’s finest moment with a world-class save.
Chesterfield: Tommy Lee, Tendayi Darikwa, Ian Evatt, Liam Cooper, Ritchie Humphreys, Dan Gardner (Jay O’Shea 50), Sam Morsy, Ollie Banks (Marc Richards 60), Jimmy Ryan, Gary Roberts (Sam Hird 74), Eoin Doyle. Subs not used: Nathan Smith, Sam Togwell, Armand Gnanduillet, Ian Dunbavin.
Referee: Darren Bond (Burscough)
Booked: Roberts 51, Ryan 81, Hayhurst 82.
Sent off: None.
Attendance: 3,322 (643 from Chesterfield).
Shots on target: City 2, Spireites 7.
Shots off target: City 1, Spireites 2.
Corners: City 6, Spireites 3.
Fouls conceded: City 14, Spireites 11.
Offsides: City 0, Spireites 1.