Belper Town U21s fought back from a two-goal deficit to earn a creditable draw against their Chesterfield counterparts.
The absence of key wide players forced Belper into a narrow formation but paradoxically it also helped them to remain compact against an attacking team full of pacy and energetic runners.
Injury to regular goalkeeper Mark Rathbone meant a debut for recent signing Sol Swarvett, who went on to give an assured display between the posts.
Belper started brightly with Mason Barker evading three challenges as he drove into the Chesterfield penalty area, only to blot his copybook when he dragged his shot wide of the target.
Jylah Collister repeated the feat at the other end but his good work was also marred by another wayward shot that flew high and wide of Swarvett’s goal.
The Spireites got their noses on front after 27 minutes when the Belper defence failed to clear their lines allowing the ball to be cut back from the by-line for Montel Okoro to smash the ball into the net from eight yards.
The Nailers responded well and visiting ‘keeper Ellis Spencer did well to beat away a fierce shot from Laurence Constable but Chesterfield could have scored shortly afterwards when Landry Cheta shot wide of the near post when well placed.
In the second half, Belper were denied an equalising goal when Ashley Worthington’s header flew into the net from a wide free kick on the right, only for the Nailers’ skipper to be denied by a linesman’s raised flag.
And just to rub salt into the wounds, Chesterfield immediately broke away and exposed a gap in the home defence as Okora’s reverse pass was picked up by Landry Cheta who ran through to finish with a low shot past Swarvett.
Facing a two-goal deficit, the Nailers needed something special to get themselves back into the game and Laurence Constable was the man to provide it.
With great appreciation of the position of visiting defenders and goalkeeper on the edge of the area, Constable flicked the ball over his head and over the stranded Chesterfield ‘keeper to give the Nailers a ray of hope.
But, if that goal was sheer perfection, the Nailers equaliser after 77 minutes had a tinge of good fortune about it when Jacob Taylor’s free kick from the right touchline sailed over everyone and dropped just inside the far post.
As the game drew towards a conclusion, Danny Williams had a great opportunity to restore Chesterfield’s lead but having done all the hard work, the Spireites’ striker fired over the bar.
But that would have been rough justice on the young Belper side that showed great resilience to fight back for their point.
Belper Town: Swarvett, J Taylor, Parker (Knowles 35), Gilliot, Worthington, Barnes (Harris 80), Johnson, Taggart (Harrison 72), Birks, Constable, Barker. Other Subs: S Taylor, Broughton.
Chesterfield: Spencer, White, Higginson, Burke, Bartle, Neal, Cheta, Gilchrist, Okoro, Williams, Collister. Subs: Wilson, State, Swain, Herbert, Cartwright.
Referee: Richard Eley.