Nigel Clough happy to see Burton come through Chesterfield
Nigel Clough was delighted his Burton table-toppers came through scrappy battle with relegation strugglers Chesterfield with a slender win that extended their lead to seven points.
Midfielder Calum Butcher scored the only goal to sentence the Spireites to a fourth successive defeat.
A tame opening half looked set for a goalless stalemate but Butcher broke the deadlock - in time added for O'Neil's injury - when he turned neatly onto Mark Duffy's cross before finding the bottom corner from 10 yards.
Gboly Ariyibi fired inches over as the Spireites tried to battle back, but only a deflection denied Mason Bennett a second goal for the hosts before Duffy was thwarted by Dion Donohue almost on the line.
Clough said: "Seven points clear is very important - and it's been nice to play on a Friday night and put the pressure on other people who are playing on Saturday."
The Burton boss admitted his side were far from sparkling but again demonstrated the qualities that have served them well all season.
He said: "It was down to determination, grit and resolve because it wasn't pretty at times. It was a very hard-working performance, with the clean sheet the most pleasing aspect of the night.
"We didn't create much tonight, but they didn't either.
"The foundation of what has been achieved so far this season has been the clean sheets and restricting the opposition to few chances.
"Our keeper has only had one shot to save, but I think Chesterfield deserve some credit because they caused us few problems in the second half.
"They were never going to lie down and make it easy for us.
"It was a bit nervy in the last few minutes because we made some poor decisions and didn't see the game out very well."
Chesterfield's night was also marred by an injury to full-back Liam O'Neil, who was taken to hospital after being struck by a Stuart Beavon shot.
Manager Danny Wilson said: "We understand Liam is having an x-ray on his neck."
And the the nature of the defeat added to the disappointment of the Spireites boss.
He said: "It was exactly what we expected. Burton are one-nillers. They've been doing it at all season and they're very good at it.
"They get a goal and they are very good at defending it, which makes the way we conceded all the more disappointing.
"Other than that, I didn't think there was much to pick and choose between the sides.
"They probably had one shot of note all game - but unfortunately we didn't do enough attacking-wise to really trouble them."
Wilson said he hoped to use the loan transfer window to bolster his squad for the battle to avoid relegation.
He said: "We need to bring in new players. We're short on numbers and some aren't performing as well as they can.
"We have to understand as a club what needs to be done to improve our situation."