Jay O’Shea’s second half strike earned Chesterfield a hard-fought draw against 10-man Rochdale.
Bobby Grant levelled for Keith Hill’s side, on the manager’s return to Spotland, before the winger saw red for a late tackle on Sam Togwell.
The Spireites had a penalty shout turned down before Tommy Lee pulled off a match-saving stop from George Donnelly shortly before the final whistle.
Rochdale had lost six of their last 10 home games prior to today’s game and were without a win in 2013.
Paul Cook kept faith in the same 11 that narrowly lost at home to Southend United seven days ago.
And the visitors settled into their rhythm from the kick-off, with two fiercely hit shots blocked in the first five minutes before O’Shea made himself an opening on the edge of the area.
The Irishman jinked inside from his wide left position and unleashed a curling right foot shot that rebounded off the crossbar with Josh Lillis rooted to the spot in the Dale goal.
O’Shea then read the bounce of the ball better than full back Joe Rafferty to square an inviting cross along the six yard box that Marc Richards got his studs to, but there was not enough contact to trouble Lillis.
The striker, who towered above centre-back Phil Edwards, turned his marker moments later and fired a low shot that the Dale keeper did well to smother down to his right.
Lillis’s opposite number, Tommy Lee, had largely been a spectator for the opening quarter of an hour but had to be on his toes to prevent Dele Adebola from opening the scoring for the hosts.
The Spiretes keeper dived bravely at the feet of Adebola as the striker bared down on goal before Lee was again quick to put his body on the line to prevent the 37-year-old, who was on loan at Notts County earlier in the season, from getting a shot away at the second attempt.
Rochdale began to match Chesterfield’s work rate and almost took the lead when a defence-splitting pass released Adebola who turned the ball back for Andrew Tutte to hit a seemingly goal-bound effort that was deflected narrowly wide.
Chesterfield were on the front foot soon after when Whitaker hit a shot that bounced just wide of Lillis’ right hand post.
Ashley Grimes forced Lee into a smart save low to his left after skipping past Sam Hird with relative ease.
Sam Togwell and Whitaker had shots blocked before Tendayi Darikwa completely missed his kick as the half drew to a close.
It was Darikwa’s last involvement of the game as he hobbled off the pitch with just three minutes of the second half played and was replaced by Mark Randall.
And the substitute almost made an immediate impact when he squared the ball across goal for Richards to delicately sweep the ball home with a flick of his back heel. The near linesman’s flag quickly put a stop to the visiting support’s celebrations.
The home side’s respite was short-lived, however, and a crunching tackle from Togwell was the catalyst for the Spireites to take the lead.
Whitaker picked up the loose ball and drove at Dale’s defence before offloading to O’Shea who calmly slotted over the advancing Lillis to give Chesterfield the lead.
But they were pegged back minutes later when Bobby Grant unleashed a powerful left foot shot that dipped under the crossbar into the top corner.
Grant, who had been quiet up until the goal, produced a superb piece of skill to almost give the hosts the lead when he brought the ball down on his chest and volleyed towards goal in one movement.
The young winger was then at the centre of things again when his late tackle on Togwell left the Spireites midfielder in a heap.
Togwell was able to dust himself down to return to the pitch, but Rochdale’s task was made that much harder when they had to play out the remaining minutes with 10 men after Grant was shown a red card.
Substitute Armand Gnanduillet was quickly closed down as he looked to pull the trigger. Chesterfield had a late shout for a penalty turned down before Lee made sure his side left Spotland with a point with a great reflex save from Donnelly.
Rochdale: Lillis; Rafferty, Bennett, Cansdale-Sherriff (Murphy 86), Kennedy, Tutte (c), Grimes (Haworth), Edwards, McIntyre, Adebola (Donnelly 66), Grant
Subs not used: Barry-Murphy, Collis, Pearson, Curran, Allen
Spireites: Lee; Hird, Trotman, Cooper, Smith, Togwell, Clay (Townsend 71), Darikwa (Randall 48), Whitaker (Gnanduillet 88), Richards
Subs not used: Barrington, Lester, Brindley, Wafula
Referee: Andy Haines (Tyne and Wear)