Preston north End came to the B2Net Stadium one place below hosts Chesterfield, by virtue of having an inferior goal difference, earned in an opening-day stuffing at home to Colchester - a not unfamiliar situation for Spireites with long-ish memories! Both sides drew their last games to earn their first points of the season; while we were netting a satisfyingly posthumous equaliser to deny Stevenage all three points, Preston were on the receiving end of a late goal at Scunthorpe.
The pre-match chat centred around the impending signing of Alex Mendy, who is expected to have received international clearance in time for the game at Milton Keynes on Saturday. John Sheridan elected to name an unchanged line-up, although Jamie Lowry was drafted onto the bench in place of Tendayi Darikwa. North End made one change, giving a full debut to recent signing Steve Smith, the left-back from Norwich.
Chesterfield showed first when a Downes long ball to Talbot on 3 allowed the midfielder to find Morgan; he turned and shot but saw his effort blocked. Preston quickly got into their stride, however, and began to press Chesterfield back. Mattis defended a McLean cross well at the back post on 4, conceding a corner, and Smith cleared the danger from that, but North End's strength and purpose saw the pressure stay on. Mattis was matching Preston's endeavour with great resolve but a slice of luck kept the scores level on 7 when the well-placed Coutts shot over the roof of the South Stand.
Chesterfield mounted occasional breaks; Allott won the ball well in midfield and Whitaker took it on, finding Lester on 11. He turned and shot but found the impressive Carlisle in the way. Smith crossed and Lester headed, but Turner held the ball well.
Holden defended well at the back post to concede another corner, on 16. From the flag kick Carlisle rose above a knot of defenders to guide a header into the net from around six yards for Preston's opening goal.
A poor pass to Niven on 21 gave him no chance of retaining possession and the powerful Mellor came away with the ball, but Lee saved. An Alexander shot was held by Lee on 27.
After being set up by Niven's fine run, Talbot looked to have had a shot deflected wide but a goal kick was given. Niven was playing particularly well at this point and found Lester with a terrific pass; Jack worked it out to Holden, whose cross found Morgan, but his shot was blocked.
Mellor was presented with a great opportunity to double his side's lead on 31 but Tommy Lee bravely pounced at his feet to deny him.
Halftime: Spireites 0 Lilywhites 1. Attendance: 6706 (963 from Preston.)
Lee held a Hume shot at the second attempt as Proctor's boots closed in on 48. Most of the early second-half play belonged to Chesterfield, though, and a fine patient build-up led to a corner on 54; the kick was worked short but the cross was easy meat for Turner.
Hume and Proctor both came close to a goal with shots that were wide. Allott came closer at the other end, latching onto Turner's punch to drive a measured shot narrowly wide.
North End doubled their lead on 70 minutes, and there appeared to be a stroke of good fortune about it. Coutts crossed from the right and Nicholson ran into the box to head, but he seemed to check his stride slightly as he contacted and his header was thus diverted downwards; it bounced in an arc over Lee's despairing dive, and into the net.
Bowery replaced Morgan before the kick-off, and Preston swapped Parry for Smith on 72. Chesterfield's substitutions were completed on 74 when Lowry and Boden came on for Niven and Lester. The two subs combined to win a corner within seconds of coming on but Lowry's low delivery was easily cleared.
Mattis was booked for a foul on 80 minutes, and McLean followed him into the book for scything Lowry down two minutes later. In between time, Preston brought Mayor on for Proctor. Whitaker's fast, flat delivery from the free kick was fisted away.
Mellor should have made it three when Smith's tackle on Mayor sent the ball loose, and Mellor pounced, but he shot wide. Hume - Mayor Smith in with tackle but breaks to Mellor - wide.
Hume was replaced by Clucas on the stroke of full time. Mellor might have had another in injury time but Smith got back to deny him after Mattis's underhit pass threatened to let the Preston man in.
Full time: Spireites 0 Lilywhites 2
North End were good value for their win, and 2-0 was just about right on the balance of play, although their slightly streaky second came at a time when Chesterfield were showing some fight and craft, and thus knocked the stuffing out of them, a bit. Our first two home opponents this season have come from different planets to eachother, football-wise, and Preston were a vast improvement as far as the eye was concerned, combining strength and keen running with a morally decent approach and good football. They will finish far closer to the top of the table than they are now and, although they didn't really look a convincing bet to get back after going behind, Chesterfield showed enough to suggest that when they have completed their desired signings and found their stride, they should be able to match the majority of the sides in League One.