Two late Stockport County goals cancelled out Roche and O’Connor’s early second-half strikes, with the points being shared in a tight 2-2 affair in the National League U19 Alliance League.
It was a first 45 minutes of half-chances, with the score level at the break. The best chance of the half fell to Waite on the 39-minute mark, when Blakely danced between defenders before putting the ball across for the forward to poke home, but the ball somehow evaded him.
It seemed something had switched for the Chesterfield players at half-time, however.
Within two minutes of the restart, Roche had the ball in the back of the net. Having replaced the injured Grierson in the first half, the player took his chance and put the young Spireites ahead with a header from a Tansley corner.
O’Connor doubled Chesterfield’s advantage, with two goals in two minutes, lifting the ball over the onrushing Stockport goalkeeper following a through-ball.
Stockport were beginning to gain a foothold in the game, forcing Preston to make several remarkable saves, keeping Chesterfield’s comfortable lead.
Further chances from O’Connor, Waite and Murphy came close to killing off the tie and winning all three points for the visitors.
It was on the 87-minute mark when Stockport finally broke through the, what seemed to be, unlockable Chesterfield defence, before equalising in the last minute of normal time to draw even.
The coach had his say on the game between equal opposition: “It was a good game – two good teams going at it.
“Looking at the league table and the games that we’ve been involved in this season, there isn’t a lot between any of the sides. On any given day, any team can win.
“There wasn’t a lot between the sides in the first half – they cancelled each other out, really.
“When we came out for the second half, we started really well, scoring two goals in five minutes.
“That’s why it was so disappointing to concede two in the last three minutes. It was definitely a learning curve for the lads, especially in game management and seeing games out when you’re winning.
“There are many positives to take, but still very disappointing.
Chesterfield: Preston; Charlesworth (Morris 85), Barriss, Wilkison, Blakeley; Grierson © (Roche 45), Moss (Murphy 65), Geeves, Tansley; Waite, O’Connor.
CFC Goals: Roche 47, O’Connor 48.
STFC Goals: 87, 89.