PLYMOUTH Argyle moved into the League Two play-off positions with a superb win against table-topping Chesterfield at Home Park on Tuesday night.
Striker Reuben Reid scored both of the goals for the Pilgrims, taking his tally for the season to 18 in all competitions.
He produced an excellent display, doing his share of defensive duties when needed, and tormented Chesterfield when he was on the attack.
Argyle moved up to seventh position after their eighth home league win of the season.
Reid scored his first goal in the 27th minute, only for Chesterfield to equalise early in the second half through left-back Ritchie Humphreys.
However, Reid restored Argyle’s lead, and for good, in the 59th minute with an excellent low finish after a surging run.
There was tension around Home Park as Chesterfield applied some late pressure but the home team stood firm.
Not for the first time in recent weeks, Maxime Blanchard, Neal Trotman and Curtis Nelson defended resolutely.
Argyle manager John Sheridan recalled Andres Gurrieri and Paul Wotton for the clash against his former club.
Making way for them were Durrell Berry and Dominic Blizzard, with neither of them on the substitutes’ bench either.
Gurrieri played as a right wing-back, instead of Berry, while Wotton replaced Blizzard in the centre of midfield.
There were a couple of changes on the bench as well, with Jason Banton and Ben Purrington included.
Chesterfield’s starting line-up was the same as for their 3-0 home win against Oxford United on Saturday.
That result had kept the Spireites one point clear of second-placed Scunthorpe United, who defeated Argyle 2-0 at Home Park.
Chesterfield’s side included newly-crowned League Two player-of-the-year Gary Roberts, who was celebrating his 30th birthday.
Gurrieri had the first chance of the contest when he sent a shot high and wide from 18 yards.
That came after a cross from Lewis Alessandra, which was aimed towards Reid, was only partially cleared by centre-back Ian Evatt.
It was a clash of tactics as Argyle played a 3-5-2 formation and Chesterfield went with 4-2-3-1.
The powerful Marc Richards was the lone striker for the Spireites and the highly-rated Roberts was on the left wing.
Reid had a hooked shot saved by Tommy Lee at the second attempt in the 16th minute.
Alessandra tried to pounce on the loose ball but the Chesterfield ‘keeper got to it before he could.
It was a cagey start to the game from both teams, with neither prepared to commit too many players to attacks.
Argyle’s Jake Cole was forced into his first save in the 25th minute when he held onto a long-range shot from Ollie Banks.
Cole also comfortably dealt with a deflected drive from Jimmy Ryan soon afterwards.
The deadlock was broken in the 27th minute when Alessandra lobbed the ball forward for Reid to race onto.
Argyle’s top scorer dashed into the penalty area before shooting into the net off the far post.
It took Reid’s goal tally to 17 in all competitions – the highest in a single season by a Pilgrims’ player since Carlo Corazzin hit the same amount in 1997/98.
There was a blow for Argyle when Alessandra, who had been very lively, suffered a hamstring injury and could not continue playing.
He was replaced by substitute Tope Obadeyi in the 34th minute in a straight swap as the strike partner to Reid.
There was a tremendous chance for Reid to put the Pilgrims 2-0 up soon afterwards when he sliced through the Spireites’ defence.
Reid went past Evatt and Liam Cooper, the other centre-back, after a pass from Gurrieri but he dragged his shot well wide.
Chesterfield had one chance to draw level before half-time, which came from a free-kick taken by Roberts close to the left touchline.
He aimed the ball to the far post and Evatt rose highest but sent his header well wide.
Reid also had another chance to grab a second goal for the Pilgrims before the break after a mistake by Evatt.
The Chesterfield defender tried to make an interception but did not get to the ball and Obadeyi raced in behind.
Obadeyi cut the ball back to Reid and his sidefoot shot flew over the crossbar from 10 yards out.
Chesterfield started the second half purposefully, and Richards had a fierce low shot pushed away by Cole.
Richards went even closer to getting an equaliser in the 55th minute.
A cross was hit low into the Argyle penalty area by Tendayi Darikwa and Richards smashed the ball against the bar from a couple of yards.
Chesterfield’s pressure paid dividends, though, in the 56th minute when they did draw level.
Following a corner, the ball broke to Humphreys and his deflected shot beat Cole and ended up in the net.
However, Argyle restored their lead only a couple of minutes later with a superb solo goal.
Reid showed excellent strength as he moved forward, eluding a couple of challenges, before firing low across Lee and into the net from 20 yards out.
Obadeyi made a speedy break from inside Argyle territory in the 66th minute which threatened another goal.
He could have passed the ball inside to Reid, who was unmarked, but he went himself and Lee made an important save.
Roberts was replaced by substitute Eoin Doyle in the 70th minute, before Richards almost got on the end of a right-wing cross.
Had the Spireites’ striker got a clean contact on the ball he would almost certainly have equalised as he was so close to goal.
Chesterfield had more of the possession but Argyle still had opportunities to extend their lead.
One came in the 77th minute when Nelson had a glancing header from a free-kick by Conor Hourihane saved by Lee.
Two-goal Reid received a standing ovation when he was replaced by substitute Marvin Morgan in the 80th minute.
Cole produced a superb save from Doyle soon afterwards after the ball was nodded down by Richards.
Chesterfield midfielder Sam Morsy also had a long-range shot saved by the Argyle ‘keeper as the game entered its closing stages.
Hourihane had a good chance for the Pilgrims when he latched onto a pass from Obadeyi and burst into the box but his strike was beaten away by Lee.
PLYMOUTH ARGYLE (3-5-2)
1 Jake Cole 7
4 Maxime Blanchard 7
16 Neal Trotman 7
17 Curtis Nelson 7
27 Andres Gurrieri 7
14 Luke Young 7
15 Paul Wotton 7
6 Conor Hourihane 7
26 Matt Parsons 7
9 Reuben Reid 8
7 Lewis Alessandra 7
10 Marvin Morgan (for Reid 80 mins)
18 Tyler Harvey
19 Nathan Thomas
20 Jason Banton
25 Ben Purrington
28 Tope Obadeyi (for Alessandra 34 mins) 6
32 Cameron Dawson
Tommy Lee; Tendayi Darikwa, Ian Evatt, Liam Cooper, Ritchie Humphreys; Jimmy Ryan, Sam Morsy; Jay O’Shea (Danny Kearns 62 mins) , Ollie Banks (Mason Bennett 62 mins), Gary Roberts (Eoin Doyle 70 mins); Marc Richards.
Substitutes (not used): Nathan Smith, Sam Hird, Armand Gnanduillet, Ian Dunbavin (gk).
REFEREE: Oliver Langford (West Midlands) 7
ATTENDANCE: 6,012 (92 away)
GOALS – Argyle: Reid 27, 58 mins; Chesterfield: Humphreys 56 mins
YELLOW CARDS – Argyle: None; Chesterfield: Cooper 60 mins, Bennett 87 mins
MATCH RATING: 4 out of 5
ARGYLE STAR MAN – Reuben Reid: Strong and powerful in all that he did, and scored both goals in a superb win against the League Two leaders
NEXT MATCH: Saturday, away to Accrington Stanley, League Two (3pm)