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May 10, 2015 at 12.15pm UK at Deepdale
PrestonPreston North End
Beckford (38', 87'), Garner (62' pen.)
FT(HT: 1-0)

Preview: Preston North End vs. Chesterfield

Sports Mole previews the second leg of the League One playoff semi-final between Preston North End and Chesterfield.

Preston North End go into the second leg of their League One playoff semi-final with Chesterfield with a one-goal advantage thanks to Jermaine Beckford's early strike at the Proact Stadium.

Chesterfield had their moments during Thursday's encounter, but they must find a way to break down the Preston defence if they are to have a chance of reaching Wembley later this month.

Preston North End

Manager Simon Grayson of Preston North End applauds the fans after the FA Cup Fifth round match between Preston North End and Manchester United at Deepdale on February 16, 2015© Getty Images

Last weekend, Preston were left reeling after missing out on automatic promotion to the Championship, but Thursday's triumph at Chesterfield has lifted the club.

Simon Grayson's men were fortunate to survive with their narrow advantage still intact, but the club's boss would have been impressed with the character of his players.

The defeat at Colchester United brought an 18-match unbeaten run to an end, but his team showed that they remain focused on getting themselves over the line.

Front duo Beckford and Joe Garner are likely to play a major part in whether North End can return to the second tier of English football for the first time since 2011.

Former Leeds United man Beckford has netted six times in his last nine outings, while Garner has scored five in as many games.

The club have lost just once at Deepdale all season, and in front of a passionate crowd, there will be every expectation that they should book their spot in the final.

Recent form: DDWWLW


Paul Cook, manager of Chesterfield t during the Pre Season Friendly match between Chesterfield and Nottingham Forest at Proact Stadium on July 16, 2013© Getty Images

Defeat in the first leg would have come as a blow to Chesterfield, but the club may relish their underdog status for the reverse fixture.

After promotion last season, they have done superbly to achieve a top-six position and regardless of Sunday's result, this has been a progressive campaign for the Spireites.

The club haven't won in four games, but Paul Cook's men created enough chances on Thursday evening to suggest that they have the belief to cause an upset.

However, they haven't earned success on the road in three games, and given the quality of Preston's attack, they could find themselves having to score more than one goal to remain in the tie.

Striker Eoin Doyle has been missed since he left to join Cardiff City, but if Chesterfield can remain in the game with 30 minutes to go, they have the potential to cause their hosts plenty of nervy moments in the closing stages.

Recent form: DWDLDL

Team News

Barring any late fitness issues, Grayson is expected to retain the same side that secured victory in the first leg.

Cook could also keep faith with his starting lineup from Thursday, providing that goalkeeper Tommy Lee has recovered from a knock.

Striker Armand Gnanduillet is an option if Cook opts to tinker with his forward line, but the Frenchman hasn't scored since January 10.

Preston North End possible starting lineup:
Johnstone, Clarke, Wright, Huntington, Laird, Humphrey, Welsh, Gallagher, Johnson, Beckford, Garner

Chesterfield possible starting lineup:
Lee, Jones, Evatt, Hird, Darikwa, Morsy, Ryan, Roberts, O'Shea, Gardner, Clucas

Head To Head

Neither Preston nor Chesterfield have been able to assert any dominance in their head-to-head record, with Preston winning eight times in 19 meetings compared to six for Chesterfield.

Chesterfield enjoyed the better of their opening fixtures, but Preston are currently on an eight-game unbeaten run, including the last four at Deepdale.

That run stretches all the way back to September 1999 when Chesterfield ran out 2-0 winners on their travels.

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We say: Preston North End 2-1 Chesterfield

The opening stages of this fixture will be key, with Chesterfield expected to have to find a way to prevent Preston from extending their lead on aggregate. If they come through that period, they have a chance, but there is a determination among the Preston players to make up for their failure on the last day of the campaign and they could prove too strong on Sunday.

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Manager Simon Grayson of Preston North End applauds the fans after the FA Cup Fifth round match between Preston North End and Manchester United at Deepdale on February 16, 2015
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Preview: Chesterfield vs. Preston North End

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