Eoin Doyle scored his second hat-trick in as many games as the visitors came from three down to snatch an unlikely point at Deepdale.
The Lilywhites were three up inside the opening half an hour as Alan Browne headed home Will Hayhurst’s cross.
Joe Garner then capitalised on a mistake at the back by Chesterfield, before Josh Brownhill poked home from close range, however, the deficit was reduced before the break by Spireites top scorer Doyle.
The striker doubled his and Chesterfield’s tally with 11 minutes left and then completed his hat-trick with an injury-time penalty to level matters after Joe Garner was adjudged to have handled in the box.
North End welcomed back Browne and Brownhill into the midfield, whilst Hayhurst was given his first league start of the season, with Chris Humphrey and Andy Little both ruled out through injury.
On the bench there was a place for new signing Callum Robinson, whilst Kyel Reid was given his first involvement in league action with a place amongst the substitutes.
North End were almost ahead within the first 60 seconds as a long kick from Jamie Jones was flicked on by Garner, but Hayhurst and then Paul Gallagher couldn’t quite control it and the ball eventually ricocheted through to Tommy Lee in the Chesterfield goal.
The early reprieve didn’t last long for Paul Cook’s side though, as seven minutes in the deadlock was broken. Firstly there was a loud shout for penalty for handball after Gallagher had a shot from Calum Woods’ cross deflected for the first corner.
The initial corner was headed back out to taker Will Hayhurst; he whipped the ball back in to the six yard box and Alan Browne powered a header downwards and past a helpless Lee for his first goal of the season.
On the 15 minute mark the total was doubled. Some great pressure by North End brought the goal. Joe Garner challenged for a header and forced the Chesterfield back line to make a mistake, Tommy Lee coming out of his area and Garner went round him and slammed home into the empty net from 15 yards out for his fifth goal of the season.
It was three on 28 minutes. It came with some great play whilst Chesterfield were down to ten men – Daniel Jones off the field injured and Chesterfield waiting to bring on his replacement. The movement saw Neil Kilkenny find Gallagher 40 yards out; he sprayed the ball wide right to Woods who crossed deep to the back post and Buchanan and Garner went up together and headed back across goal for Brownhill to slide in from close range.
The visitors best spell of the half came at 3-0 down and it was certainly not against the run of play when they pulled one back on 31 minutes, albeit their goal came from the first shot of the game. A long ball through found their leading scorer Eoin Doyle who broke through the PNE defence, checked back and dinked the ball over Jamie Jones.
And it should have been 3-2 only ten minutes before the interval as Doyle headed down Daniel Johnson’s cross for Boco, who slammed over the bar from three yards out.
The visitors started the second half on the front foot and had a spate of corners around the 55 minute mark without testing Jamie Jones.
Callum Robinson was given his bow at the mid-way point of the half, he and Jack King brought on for Gallagher and Kilkenny.
The pace of the young Villa loanee was obvious from the outset, forcing Ryan and Darikwa to bring him down early into his PNE career, the former getting a yellow card for his troubles.
Josh Brownhill stung the gloves of Lee with just over ten minutes remaining, but on the counter attack the visitors drew level. They raced down the left through Johnson and he played the ball across for Doyle at the back post who slotted home his tenth goal of the season.
With two minutes left Lee made a quite remarkable save to prevent North End grabbing a fourth, tipping Garner’s header over the bar from Kyel Reid’s cross, the No.17 making his league debut as a substitute for Will Hayhurst.
However, as the game entered the final 30 seconds the visitors were awarded a penalty. A cross had come in and Nigel Miller blew up for what could only be considered hand ball. Eoin Doyle stepped up and fired low into the bottom left for his second hat-trick in as many games and grab a point.
PNE line-up: Jones, Woods, Buchanan, Kilkenny (King, 67), Clarke (c), Wright, Hayhurst (Reid, 85), Browne, Garner, Brownhill, Gallagher (Robinson, 67). Subs not used: Stuckmann, Laird, Wiseman, K Davies.
Chesterfield line-up: Lee, Darikwa, Jones (O’Shea, 28), Morsy, Ryan, Clucas, Doyle, Boco (Gnanduillet, 70), Evatt (c), Johnson, Margreitter (Banks, 78). Subs not used: Chapman, Humphreys, Raglan, Ariyibi.
Attendance: 8,399 (433 away fans)
Referee: Mr N Miller