Port Vale manager Rob Page admitted his team had failed to turn up after they were out-played by Chesterfield who cruised to a 3-0 win at the Proact Stadium.Chesterfield controlled the game from the moment Romuald Boco crossed from the left in the 12th minute and Armand Gnanduillet scored with a downward header from eight yards.
Vale had a chance in the 21st minute when Mark Marshall got behind Chesterfield on the right, but his cross was headed over from 10 yards by Louis Dodds and Chesterfield deservedly sealed victory in the second half.
Top scorer Eoin Doyle was tripped by Frederic Veseli in the 61st minute and the striker sent Chris Neal the wrong way with the penalty.
Any chance Vale had of getting back in the game vanished in the 70th minute when Charlie Raglan dived to head in a corner for his first Chesterfield goal.
Page made no attempt to hide his feelings when he said: "To come off the back of three or four performances that I've been really pleased with, we came here and for the first half we did not turn up.
"I said to them we were fortunate to go in only a goal down and still in the game. I made a change I felt we had to make and then another and as soon as I made that they got the second goal and it was game over.
"I've said to them I'm bitterly disappointed with that performance. There were too many individuals off their game and when you get that, it has an impact and there have been only two occasions since I've taken over that I've said that to this group of players.
"I've looked at the goals again and they are embarrassing quite frankly. The first one was a free header and when you look back on the goals, they haven't had to work too hard to score them and that's what bitterly disappoints me."
It was a different picture for Chesterfield manager Paul Cook, who said: "It was a very good team performance, very strong and if you are being critical we should have scored a couple more goals, but that's just nit-picking.
"Port Vale are on a good run and have had some smashing results so we are in a good place at the moment.
"We were excellent and we had a lot of good players."
Some of those players have been strongly linked with moves away from the club during the transfer window but Cook added: "I can't stop speculation.
"We want to be successful at Chesterfield and we are not just here for everyone to pick the bones out of us.
"To be successful, you must have good players and hold on to them and we are doing our best to do that.
"It's obvious how good our team spirit is and we go to Swindon next week and I can guarantee you, we won't be defending, that's for sure."