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Preston End Chesterfield Play-off Hopes

10 May 2015

Preston North End finished the Spireites' season after a 3-0 win at Deepdale meant the Lilywhites progressed to Wembley 4-0 on aggregate.

Jermaine Beckford again opened the scoring for Preston when he turned Sam Hird in the box and fired home an unstoppable volley, just moments after Sam Clucas had seen a one on one saved at the other end.

After another strong start to the second half saw the Spireites threaten to get themselves back into the game, but after debutant goalkeeper Joe Murphy had brought down Daniel Johnson in the box, Preston had a second goal through Joe Garner, who smashed home the resulting penalty.

The stuffing knocked out of the Spireites, Beckford stuck some icing on the cake with a long-range beauty in the closing minutes to cap a disappointing afternoon for the visitors.

Chesterfield headed into the second leg of the play-off final with it all to do, following Thursday’s 1-0 defeat at the Proact, but Paul Cook insisted his side would travel to Preston in the highest confidence that they could turn the tie on its head and book a trip to Wembley.

The Spireites inevitably began the contest on the front foot as Chesterfield’s search for that important leveller nearly arrived in the opening minutes as Ollie Banks challenged well, with the ball falling kindly for Sam Clucas who struck at goal from the edge of the area, but with Sam Johnstone rooted, his effort drifted narrowly wide.

The host’s priority early on was to nullify the threat of Chesterfield’s fluid front line, as they created little openings, with Paul Gallagher having the best opportunity for North End, but his long-range strike curled straight into the arms of 'keeper Murphy.

The tie was panning-out in a similar way to the first leg, as both sides struggled to create any clear cut opportunities, but Clucas had a marvellous chance to make it game on at Deepdale. Gary Roberts fed the forward through on goal, but his attempted poke under Johnstone was saved brilliantly.

Soon after that golden chance, Clucas and the Spireites were made to pay as North End doubled their lead over the course of both legs and it was Beckford yet again. A long punt forward from full back Calum Woods was met by the head of Garner who flicked on to his strike partner, Beckford holding off Sam Hird to fire into the back of the net.

Despite the goal giving Preston breathing space, the Spireites’ belief did not appear to be sucked out of them, as another near miss came when Jay O’Shea delivered a free-kick into Preston’s penalty area, but after a slight flick on, Hird could only divert the cross straight at Johnstone with his chest.

Hird was in the thick of things again moments later, as following another set-piece, the defender climbed highest from a Roberts corner kick, but as his header looked destined for the back of the net, Paul Gallagher was on hand to head the ball off of the line.

Chesterfield resumed their pursuit of the Wembley dream after the break, attacking from the off, and immediately it required a smart Johnstone stop to deny Chesterfield, as Ian Evatt powered a header towards goal.

However, it was Preston who got the second goal of the game and assigned Chesterfield to another season of League One as former Spireites loanee Johnson trotted down the left on the break, only for Murphy to bring the midfielder down in the area, and Garner made no mistake from the spot to send the Lilywhites into hysteria.

Despite the scoreline the Spireites were throwing the kitchen sink at Preston’s goal, Jimmy Ryan let fly from all of 30 yards, but after a slight deflection, the ball missed the bottom corner and fled just wide.

The resulting corner produced no luck for the Spireites either, when O’Shea was able to pick up the ball and wriggle his way towards goal, but after pulling the trigger his effort cannoned back off the post.

Beckford had run Chesterfield ragged over the two legs, and the former League One play-off loser made sure of Preston’s Wembley place in spectacular fashion, as he received the ball on the half-way line before smashing the ball towards goal - Murphy only a spectator to the sublime effort which rushed headlong into the goal.

With Beckford’s goal sealing proceedings, the final whistle was met with a whole host of North End fans rushing to the pitch, Chesterfield beginning next campaign in League One.

Preston North End: Johnstone (gk), Clarke (c), Wright, Kilkenny, Beckford, Gallagher (Browne 52'), Garner, Woods (Humphrey 76'), Welsh, Huntington, Johnson (Laird 71')

Subs not used: Stuckmann, Davies, Hugill, Robinson

Chesterfield: Murphy (gk), Jones (Ariyibi 67'), Evatt, Hird, Darikwa, Morsy (c), Ryan, Banks (Gnanduillet 64'), O'Shea, Roberts (Gardner 82'), Clucas

Subs not used: Carter, Humphreys, Raglan, Harrison

Goals:

Preston North End: Beckford 32' 87', Garner 62' (pen)

Attendance: 15,641 (1,628 are away fans)


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