Chesterfield can Shock Preston in League One Play Offs

chesterfield

The League One Play Offs start this week with the first legs set to be played on Thursday 7th of May. Chesterfield, Swindon and Sheffield United were already confirmed of their places before the weekend, but they were surprisingly joined by Preston on Sunday, as they lost 1-0 to Colchester. While it was celebrations for the home side as they secured their own League One status, it was heartbreak for Preston who missed out on automatic promotion to MK Dons – as we predicted.

Fixtures

The Play Off semi-finals come in quick succession in League One, with the first legs this Thursday followed by the second legs on Sunday and Monday. Here are the best odds for the two first legs:

Thursday 7th May

Chesterfield v Preston

Chesterfield –  +210  with Boylesports

Preston –  +160  with Coral

Draw –  +240  with Bet365 and Betfred

Preston will have to overcome the disappointment of Sunday’s defeat at Colchester very quickly when they travel to Chesterfield on Thursday, and that could prove a big task. The Lilywhites had promotion in their grasp up until the final day when they were a point ahead of MK Dons, but the news that MK had beaten Yeovil 5-1 at home confirmed Preston’s slip into the play offs. Chesterfield were playing out a 1-1 draw with fellow play off hopefuls Sheffield United over the weekend, and they will have already been making preparations since being assured of 6th place a few weeks ago. They can be backed at a decent price to pile the misery on Preston in this first leg, and put one foot in the final at Wembley.

It’s been a great season for Chesterfield after coming up from League Two last year, and suddenly they find themselves looking at a potential two promotions in two seasons. Preston may be the class side in this tie, but there’s a feelgood factor about the Spireites at the moment, and they will come into the game with nothing to lose. They’ve already exceeded expectations this year, and can take the game to Preston with a passionate crowd behind them.

The first leg represents their best chance of progressing from this tie, and manager Paul Cook will know how important a first leg lead could be. Their form has tailed off over the last three games – understandably – with two draws and a defeat, but they will be fully focused on this match. They won four on the trot at home before the recent 2-0 loss to champions Bristol City, but there’s no shame in that result which came after they’d secured a play off spot.

Preston had been in decent form prior to Sunday’s game, having won two and drawn three of the previous five, but it’s always difficult for a team to raise their game after coming so close to automatic promotion. They did win on their most recent league visit here in February, notching a 2-0 victory,which will give them hope, but we’re backing Chesterfield to turn the tables this time around.

Sheffield United v Swindon

Sheffield United –  +130  with Boylesports and Betfred

Swindon –  +260  with Skybet

Draw –  +240  with Bet365Betvictor and Paddy Power

Sheffield United are also worth backing on home soil in the other match, where they take on Swindon. Both sides have been in poor form as the league campaign has drawn to a close, and neither has a win to their name in five games. Sheffield United have drawn four and lost one, while Swindon have drawn three and lost two. However, both have been assured of play off positions for some time, so presumably they’ve been preparing for this exact eventuality.

The last five meetings between these two teams have gone the way of the side playing at home, and Sheffield United have a record of four out of five against Swindon at Brammall Lane. Nigel Clough has built up a good team at the Blades, and they showed their penchant for cup competitions with a number of notable scalps this season. They beat West Ham, Southampton and QPR in the FA Cup and Capital One Cup this term, and will relish the knockout element of the play offs.

Swindon boss Mark Cooper has labeled the challenge his side faces as a ‘three game season‘, and they will look to keep it tight here and progress in the second leg. Sheffield United might just be too strong on home ground though, and are fancied to take a first leg lead.

Promotion

We already tipped Sheffield United in this market a few weeks ago, and they are still available at a good price, with Preston the big (and potentially false) favourite. If you want to back a team to win promotion outright, here are the current best odds:

Preston –  +188  with Betfred

Sheffield United –  +275  with Bet365

Swindon –  +300  with Betvictor and Paddy Power

Chesterfield –  +500  with Betvictor

Preston are the best side according to the league table, and it’s true that they were ten points clear of nearest rivals Swindon, and a further eight ahead of Sheffield United. However, they were so close to automatic promotion that they probably had the champagne on ice, and it’s a huge blow to drop into the play offs at the last minute. The likes of Sheffield United, Swindon, and to a lesser extent Chesterfield, have had several weeks to prepare for the play offs and get their players in peak physical condition for these games.

Chesterfield could cause a shock against Preston in the first tie, but whether they can see it through to Wembley is another matter. Promotion would be a dream come true, but it might be a step too far for a side who were playing in League Two this time last year. If Sheffield United can find a way past Swindon, they could be ready for a return to the Championship.

Tips Summary

Thursday 7th May

Chesterfield v Preston

Chesterfield –  +210  with Boylesports

Sheffield United v Swindon

Sheffield United –  +130  with Boylesports and Betfred

Promotion Outright

Sheffield United –  +275  with Bet365

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