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League One Play-offs: Preston and Sheffield Utd to score big

| 07.05.2015

Just missing out on automatic promotion would have been bad enough for Preston North End fans, but with their record in play-offs, Lilywhites supporters will be dreading the upcoming games.

The Lancashire side have made the end-of-season deciders nine times since they were introduced, and have failed to seal promotion every time.

They have ample opportunity to right that wrong this season though, with their three challengers all finishing the season in questionable form.

First up for Simon Grayson’s men is a visit to the Proact Stadium to take on Chesterfield.

It has been a worthwhile trip in the past, with four victories from their last four visits, losing just once (in normal time) against the Spireites in the last 15 years.

A final day defeat against Colchester forced the Deepdale outfit into the play-offs, but before then they had been in good nick, winning 10 and drawing six of their previous 16 matches.

Furthermore, they had netted at least twice in 11 of those games.

Chesterfield meanwhile had only one win, a 6-0 victory against the aforementioned U’s to show for their final five League One ties of the campaign.

They required a hat-trick from Eoin Doyle to come back from 3-0 down to rescue a point at Deepdale earlier in the season. But with the Irishman since being sold to Cardiff, they will have to find a new way to halt the North End charge.

Top bets: Preston to win @ 6/4

                 Preston to score two or three goals @ 8/5

Elsewhere, Sheffield United can make it a night to remember for sides that usually struggle in this format.

The Blades hold the second worst record in the play-offs since their inception, faltering on all seven occasions they have taken part.

Both Nigel Clough’s men and this evening’s opponents Swindon Town come into this fixture in indifferent form.

In fact there have been no wins for either side in their last 10 matches combined, with just seven points from a possible 30 picked up between them.

It looks unlikely that Bramall Lane will be the scene of a Robins revival either, with the Wiltshire side not triumphing away at United since 1970, a run of 16 games including 11 defeats.

Add in that the hosts have only failed to score twice this season, and it could be a case of Mark Cooper’s side having to go all-out to bag a goal or two themselves.

Four of Swindon’s last five away fixtures have seen at least three goals scored, so the fans in Yorkshire could be in for a treat.

Goals may well be on the agenda, but with neither side showing much winning momentum, this one looks tricky to call.

Top bets: Draw @ 23/10

                 Over 2.5 goals @ 21/20

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.