Deepdale has never been the stadium of choice for any Chesterfield side needing wins, but with Graham Westley's arrival yet to have the desired impact on a Preston North End side that had won only one out of seven since he replaced Phil Brown, then tonight was as good a night as any to go and buck a trend that has seen The Spireites come back with the maximum only three times in twenty-two visits.
If Chesterfield were going to do it, then they would have to do it without the influential David Davis, recalled by Wolves from his loan spell the day before. His absence was one of two changes to the side that beat Tranmere on Saturday, and Jack Lester's was the other. Westcarr and Mendy, the used subs on Saturday, kept their places, and the team lined up thus:
Talbot, Trotman, Thompson, Ridehalgh
Westcarr, Allott, Whitaker, Mendy
Subs: Fleming, Lowry, Ford, Niven, Boden.
Tommy Lee was called into action first and easily caught Holroyd's cross after two minutes. Straight up the other end, Parry conceded a corner without a lot of pressure on; Whitaker's cross was put out for another corner. Thompson went for it but the ball ended up out of play, for a throw.
Chesterfield made the better start of the two sides and Mendy claimed a loose ball with the intent of playing Bowery in, but Hunt got a toe to the ball. Ajose raced through onto a Bowery flick-on on 13 and was perhaps harshly judged to be offside.
Preston won their first corner on 17. Coutts drilled it in low, but Mendy met the ball firmly to clear. A Talbot tackle on 19 saw North End win another, which Parry took; the ball went right across and was returned, forcing Lee to punch away.
A long Bowery shot capped the end of a confident Chesterfield move on 21. A Coutts shot on 26 took a nick off Trotman and went out for a corner as Westcarr was off the pitch, receiving treatment. Parry's flag kick was well defended by Mendy.
Coutts shot wide of Lee's goal when presented with a decent chance on 32. North End won another corner when Parry's driven cross came off Allott, but Westcarr defended well to win a throw when the ball came over.
Chesterfield were awarded a free kick on 36 when Bowery was impeded. Ridehalgh's free kick appeared to be headed out by a Preston man, but a goal kick was given. Mendy strode forward on 39 but allowed the ball to go on a little too far before stabbing the ball on, with Ajose particularly well-placed for a pass.
The Spireites mounted the last attack of the half and won a corner when Devine cleared Bowery's ball in. The corner was poor, however, and the halftime whistle blew.
Halftime: 0-0. Attendance:
Steady rain began to fall during the interval. Neal Trotman began the half well by forcing a corner against his old side, but nothing came of it. Ajose was brought down around ten yards outside the area on 51; Ridehalgh's kick was met by Mendy and Bowery but the danger passed; a minute later, Whitaker fired a yard wide of the Preston goal. Chesterfield's bright start to the half caused home fans to become restless, but neither side had shown a cutting edge up to this point.
Ridehalgh put the ball out for a corner on 57 but Mendy headed away at the near post. The ball was returned and Ridehalgh was harshly judged to have fouled Holroyd, whose arm was round the Chesterfield defender. Thompson headed the floated kick away with ease.
Preston replaced Proctor with Hume on 61. A foul on Allott on 64 allowed Ridehalgh a free kick; Trotman went for it but the keeper was able to claim in comfort. From the clearance Preston went forward and won another corner. Coutts took it and Mendy cleared, allowing Bowery a run at goal that was eventually thwarted by Hunt.
Holroyd was replaced by Wright on 66. Mayor capitalised on a loose ball from Ridehalgh on 72 but curled his shot a foot wide to let The Spireites off. Preston conceded another corner on 73; Ajose took this, Allott drilled the ball goalwards and the ball came to Westcarr six yards out, but he could only help the ball up into the keeper's arms.
Preston made their final substitution by replacing Cummins with Nicholson on 78. Ajose took a Chesterfield corner on 80 and another quickly followed; Westcarr got a low header to it but the keeper gathered. Scott Boden came on for Ajose on 81.
Mendy curled a shot narrowly wide on 84 before Westcarr went down under Hume challenge, on 86. Mendy was judged to have fouled on 88 but Preston were unable to pressure Lee, who easily gathered the free kick. Chesterfield won a corner as the fourth official signalled three added minutes; Whitaker's kick was met by the head of Trotman, whose effort hit the bar, and Ridehalgh fired the loose ball wide. A second injury time corner was wasted, rather, by being taken short as the full time whistle blew to a chorus of home fans' boos.