Divisional manager of the month Colin Calderwood opted for Neil Harris rather than new signing Junior Agogo in the Forest attack, with the Ghanaian striker left to warm the bench following his protracted £120,000 transfer from Bristol Rovers. The visitors were weakened by the loss of club captain Shane Nicholson and former Forest centre-back Steve Blatherwick, both still sidelined with injuries.
Chesterfield asked some probing questions early on, with Colin Larkin and Kevan Hurst making intelligent runs to test the home back-line as Forest stuttered out of the blocks.
With the majority of the fans becoming restless, midfielder James Perch shot wide from Forest's first worthwhile move following good work by strike pair Harris and Grant Holt in the 20th minute.
The Derbyshire side maintained their first-half dominance overall, with Hurst, a loan signing from Sheffield United, forcing a fine save from Forest goalkeeper Paul Smith with a cultured 25-yard effort.
But Jack Lester calmed Forest nerves by nodding in Harris's astute set-up from close range in the 35th minute. The busy Harris then added another in first-half injury time with a clinical finish to claim his first goal in a Forest shirt.
The league leaders looked a different side with their somewhat fortunate two-goal cushion, and burly frontman Holt fired in his fourth of the season from the penalty spot after he was felled by Mark Allott three minutes into the second half.
Lester failed to add to Forest's tally with a header at the end of a typically incisive passing move, while at the other end Caleb Folan tested Smith with a 56th minute snapshot as Chesterfield showed only brief glimpses of their early endeavour.Reuse content