The Spireites suffered their first Saturday away defeat of the season at Hayes Lane as Bromley deservedly clinched a 4-2 victory with an accomplished pleasing-on-the-eye performance.
Chesterfield could have no complaints about the result. At half-time, thanks to two late strikes from Laurence Maguire and Tom Denton, it looked all to play for.
But once Bromley added to their lead early in the second period there was little sign of a second comeback and Bromley eased home with, by all accounts, their best showing for several months to leave the Spireites still searching for vital points to clinch a play-off berth.
The first of the final four league games for the Spireites was set to be another huge fixture. At kick-off a play-off spot was still not mathematically secured and Paul Cook was well aware that every point mattered.
For the hosts a top-seven finish was likely to be too big a task but they had their sights set on a Wembley FA Trophy win and will have wanted to go into their Cup final on a rich vein of form
Bromley have the edge historically with three victories to Chesterfield’s one but of late neither side had been firing on all cylinders although the Spireites could boast two wins from their last three outings; the Ravens, meanwhile, were held at home by Aldershot in midweek and have to go back to the end of January for their last home league victory.
They started keen to end that barren run.
Chesterfield made two changes to the side that defeated Dover the previous weekend; in came Jak McCourt and Tom Denton as Manny Oyeleke and Akwasi both missed out.
The game kicked off with perfect weather conditions: sunny but not bright with enough of a chill to stimulate effort; just the artificial pitch to overcome.
The first chance of the afternoon fell to Bromley as Marcus Sablier fired wide of Scott Loach’s left upright after Ali Al-Hamadi had created the opening; moments later the same player picked up the games first booking after a foul on Laurence Maguire.
Incredibly the same player broke the deadlock in the 11th minute. A superb through ball from Joe Partington fell perfectly for Al-Hamadi who blasted home in the centre of the goal from close range to notch his first strike for the Ravens.
The Spireites showed a new urgency and pushed forward in numbers without seriously threatening in the immediate forays.
A second booking for the home side as Cheek brought down Jeff King 25 yards out; sadly the free-kick had too much pace for Tyrone Williams to control
Play soon returned to the Chesterfield area and Cheek squared for Al-Hamadi to fire narrowly wide.
A foul on Tom Denton brought a free-kick in shooting distance. King’s effort was close but inches wide.
The home side doubled their advantage in the game’s next move. A long kick by the home keeper, Ellery Balcombe, was read well by Luke Coulson who picked up well and lobbed the ball deftly home.
Things went from bad to worse as Cheek picked up wide on the right, controlled well and squared perfectly for AlHamadi to touch home from close range.
The Spireites pulled a goal back from a Jeff King corner in the 38th minute; Liam Mandeville spotted Laurence Maguire at the far post and floated over a peach of a ball for Maguire to nod coolly home.
The goal provided a boost for the Spireites who really needed a goal back before the break, within no time they’d added a second with only their second chance of the game. Mandeville was again the provider, a great ball from wide-right was exactly what Denton wanted as he headed neatly home from close range in the 43rd minute.
Three minutes were added at the end of the half but there was to no further serious threat from either side.
Bromley started the second period in determined mood and forced two early corners without creating any danger.
Danger did arrive though in the shape of Cory Whiteley who received centrally in the area after a great run and ball from Al-Hamadi, he poked home into the bottom corner giving the unsighted Loach no chance.
The Spireites gained their first corner of the half and Denton forced an alert save from Balcombe at the far post from King’s dead ball kick.
Bromley went close from a Coulson corner after Joe Partington rose well and headed powerfully but agonisingly wide.
Saidou Khan will have rued his finishing after great build up play from Mandeville and King, his volleyed effort was waywardly wide.
The Spireites made a double substitution as Nathan Tyson and Tom Whelan joined the game at the expense of Saidou Khan and Jak McCourt. The third change soon followed as Calvin Miller replaced Alex Whittle.
Ravens’ substitute James Alabi used his strength to burst forward and shake off a strong challenge to square for Al-Hamadi who couldn’t connect cleanly.
Moments later Luke Coulson stepped up to take a free-kick from just outside the area; it needed an alert save from Loach to clear the danger.
At the other end Denton was just inches away from connecting with another teasing Mandeville cross.
Four minutes additional time was awarded but, not surprisingly, Bromley were quite happy to ease their way through to the whistle and kept possession well to ensure the Spireites didn’t repeat their late first half show in the second period.
Chesterfield: Loach, Maguire, Weston, Mandeville, Williams, McCourt (Whelan 69), King, Grimes, Denton, Khan (Tyson 69), Whittle (Miller 76)
Substitutes not used: Oyeleke, Rowley
Referee: Scott Tallis