Chesterfield took one more step closer to Wembley after a 3-0 win at home to Rochdale in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.
In the first few moments, Ollie Banks had a shot that just went wide of the target. A Gary Roberts cross then evaded Armand Gnanduillet in the Rochdale penalty area.
Drew Talbot found space on the right-hand side and forced visiting goalkeeper Josh Lillis to tip the ball over the crossbar, after a chipped effort from distance. With the home side dominating proceedings, they created several gilt-edged chances in front of goal.
Another lofted pass from Roberts failed to reach Gnanduillet in the area. Banks then attempted an audacious chip from 20 yards in a bid to outsmart the opposition goalkeeper, but Lillis was equal to it.
The hosts’ appeals for a penalty were dismissed after Roberts went down following a challenge from Ashley Eastham. The Spireites then took the lead in added time at the end of the first-half. Another Roberts cross was met by Banks, who directed his header past visiting goalkeeper Lillis.
The home side took a deserved lead into the break after looking comfortable for the first 45 minutes.
After the restart, the troublesome Banks found space and had another shot that just went wide of the target. The Dale thought they had their equaliser when they had the ball in the back of the net through Ian Henderson, only for it to be ruled out for off-side.
Henderson then hit the post, after a succession of chances for the away side. Graham Cummings had a shot towards goal, but the reliable Liam Cooper was there to block the ball in it’s path.
The best opportunity of the game fell to Rochdale’s Scott Hogan just past the hour mark, but he somehow put his effort wide of the post when it looked easier to score.
On 72 minutes, the home side doubled their lead after a low cross from Roberts found Gnanduillet lurking in the area to finish past Lillis. When play was back underway, O’Shea tried a half-volley only for it to be blocked by the Rochdale defence.
With 12 minutes to go, Chesterfield scored their third goal of the evening. Banks advanced into the opposition box and smartly finished to the left-hand side of Lillis, whilst capping of a hat-trick of assists for talismanic winger Roberts.
Two changes were then made by the home side. Marc Richards replaced Gnanduillet and Tendayi Darikwa took to the field in the place of Banks.
With two minutes of normal time left to be played, Eoin Doyle was brought into the game in the place of O’Shea. Henderson then shot well wide of goal, after a frustrating night for his side.
The final opportunity of the game fell to Henderson, but Tommy Lee saved comfortably in a match he had very little to do.