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Match Previews

Chesterfield v Preston North End Play-off Preview

7 May 2015

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It's here, we're ready. The play-offs are coming to the Proact Stadium and Preston North End over two legs stand between Chesterfield and the play-off final.

After 46 Sky Bet League 1 matches the two duelling sides were separated by 20 points and four places, but the playing field is now level with two matches to decide who will travel to Wembley on Sunday, May 24.

Following Thursday night's Proact Stadium first leg, the contest will revert to Preston with the semi-final concluding in the 12:15pm kick-off at Deepdale this Sunday.

Team News

Spireites manager Paul Cook has no new injury concerns after the 1-1 draw at Sheffield United on Sunday. Recent injury absentee Drew Talbot is even rated as "very close" by his manager, speaking in his pre-match press briefing.

The return of Talbot, if it happens, will cause a selection headache for Cook after left back Dan Jones's strong performance and assist for Ian Evatt's headed equaliser at Bramall Lane.

Preston, despite their high-intensity weekend exertions, have a fully-fit squad to select from for their second Proact Stadium trip of the season.

However, striker Callum Robinson has returned to Aston Villa after his youth loan at Deepdale came to an end.

Form Guide

Preston went into their final league match of the season at Colchester United on Sunday knowing that a win would see them promoted to the Championship for 2015/16. However, a late 1-0 loss coupled with an MK Dons win saw the Dons up and Preston drop into third and the play-off positions. 

After the match North End captain Tom Clarke surmised the mood in the dressing room by telling PNE Player: "We are gutted, gutted we couldn’t do it."

However, Lilywhites manager Simon Grayson stressed the importance of not wallowing in the weekend disappointment and for each player to give it their best shot and fire their side through to the play-off final at Wembley.

The loss at Colchester ended the 16-match unbeaten run from Grayson's side and any side boasting league top goalscorer Joe Garner - who has scored three against the Spireites already this season - needs to be treated with the utmost respect.

From the Dugout

Ahead of the match Cook told Spireites Player that he doesn't expect Preston's promotion disappointment on Sunday to lower their performance levels at the Proact.

He said: "Everyone's saying that Preston are going to get off the bus with all their heads down and being disinterested in a play-off semi-final, but we've all been round football long enough to know better than that.

"They'll be backed by 2,000 travelling supporters, they've got players who have played at a very high level and a very strong manager who's had a career full of promotions. 

"They will have had their down day, but Simon will have picked his team up and made them know that they can go up at Wembley - and people say that is the best way to go up."

Despite the points difference between the two sides in the final league table, Cook feels his side have the chance to cause an upset as they go toe-to-toe with the Lilywhites.

"The most important thing is that by the time the referee's blown his final whistle we've turned up," said Cook. "You can't guarantee anything in football but you can be sure that if we turn up we'll cause Preston a problem or two.

"Preston will do the same to us. You only have to look at the quality of player they have in their team, especially in the forward areas.

"Both teams can in my opinion hurt each other. I think it'll be a really good and competitive game, played in a fantastic atmosphere on a fantastic pitch."

Supporters not able to pack the Proact tonight will be able to follow the match via live commentary on Spireites Player, minute-by-minute coverage on Twitter and updates on the Spireites Wall.

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