Jon Parkin’s 90th minute strike wasn’t quite enough to fire Fleetwood Town on the road to Wembley.
The big striker scored with seconds of normal time remaining to set up a spectacular finale, Chesterfield scrambing to hang on and book their place in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final.
The Spireites bossed the first half and could easily have gone ahead through Jimmy Ryan, Gary Roberts or Jay O’Shea, all of whom tested Chris Maxwell.
But Town battled back, Alexander throwing men forward.
It nearly paid dividends when Jon Parkin was unmarked four yards out, a tame finish denying Fleetwood the lead.
But they weren’t to be denied, young debutant Matty Hughes battling on the right, clipping it in to the injured Jamille Matt who set up Parkin to tap home.
Chesterfield headed for the corners, showing grim determination to cling on and send Town out, winners on the night but unable to overturn a two-goal disadvantage.
Graham Alexander hailed a ‘glorious failure’.
“I’m so proud of the lads,” he said.
“We wanted to come here and be in the game after an hour and push on from there.
“That’s what we’ve done.
“We probably defended a little bit too much first half.
“We wanted to make sure we didn’t concede.
“But second half the lads have given it their all.
“They’ve left everything on the field and that’s what they need to do in every game to be successful.”
Town had more than one chance to pull the tie back in their favour, Antoni Sarcevic missing one in the first half and Jon Parkin with a big penalty shout.
There was also a big call to be made when debutant Matty Hughes tumbled in the box, Fleetwood not getting the breaks.
Alexander said: “We’ve created chances, there’s a couple of penalty decisions which could have gone for us.
“But I’m so proud of them they’ve given it everything.
“We’ve just not got the break early enough.”
Hughes was a lively influence on his introduction and played a crucial part in Fleetwood’s goal, crossing for Jamille Matt to set up Parkin’s simple finish.
“Matty’s been great since joining us,” said Alexander.
“He’s worked so hard and deserved his chance.
“He’s shown tonight why we’ve put our faith in him.”
Despite a worth victory at the ProAct Alexander admitted a turnaround was always going to be a tall order.
He said: “It’s a glorious failure.
“That’s not really what we’re about.
“We’d much rather have unspectacular success.
“But it’s three soft goals at Highbury which have cost us.
“It was always going to be hard to come back from that.
“Chesterfield have probably deserved it over the two legs.”