Chesterfield manager Paul Cook has targeted a fast start to their League One play-off semi-final second leg against Preston North End, as they look to overturn a 1-0 deficit.
After missing out on automatic promotion on the final day of the regular season, Preston responded strongly on Thursday as Jermaine Beckford’s well-taken goal put them in control.
Ahead of Sunday’s return fixture at Deepdale, Cook knows that an equaliser for his side could set nerves jangling at Preston, who have failed in all of their previous nine play-off campaigns.
“We’re looking forward to Sunday,” he told the club’s official website. “Preston know that we’re still alive, at 1-0 in the tie the next goal is huge and we believe we can get it.
“We’ll keep working away and doing our best for 90 minutes. We’re still in the tie.
“We’re 1-0 down and there is a lot that can happen in football. We believe we can still do it, so we’ll do everything to prepare right, travel on Saturday and see if we can get to Wembley.”
Preston manager Simon Grayson meanwhile, who saw his side finish 20 points above Chesterfield, was pleased with how his team bounced back from their last-day disappointment.
“We are delighted with the response from the players; I thought there were some good performances but most notably a good team performance,” he said.
“They worked extremely hard after a bit of criticism at the weekend and rightly so and obviously we are delighted that we have a goal advantage going into the second leg.”
In the other semi-final, Swindon Town came from behind to beat Sheffield United 2-1 in the last minute at Bramall Lane.
While Swindon boss Mark Cooper insists there is still plenty of work to be done, opposite number Nigel Clough remains confident his side can return from the County Ground on Monday victorious.
“We are still very much in the tie, despite conceding the late goal as we did,” Clough said. “We are more than capable of going and winning down there.
“We need a goal, but we can’t really afford to concede first. We need to be positive but we can’t just go there and throw caution to the wind because if we fall further behind the task will become unbelievably difficult.”
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