MATCH REPORT: Preston North End 0 Chesterfield 0

My ball: Spireites Nicky Ajose holds off Nicky Hunt.       Picture: tina jenner
My ball: Spireites Nicky Ajose holds off Nicky Hunt. Picture: tina jenner
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On a night when plenty of League One’s relegation- threatened sides did well, Spireites earned a point in a dour game at Preston.

Chesterfield could have won it right at the death when Neal Trotman planted a header onto the bar but a goalless draw was always the most likely outcome.

North End had looked one of the best sides of the season at the B2net when they won 2-0 but this time they were ordinary at best as neither side carved out any gilt-edged openings on a chilly and rainy night.

John Sheridan made just two changes from the side that beat Tranmere Rovers. Jack Lester was rested whilst all-action midfielder David Davis was back with parent club Wolves, recalled early from his loan.

His departure will be a real blow for Spireites in their attempt to break out of the drop-zone. Weekend subs Alex Mendy and Craig Westcarr got the call to start.

The first half was played at a relatively slow pace with both sides seemingly afraid of making a mistake. Former Miller Chris Holroyd shot well wide early on and Mendy put a weak shot wide after a powerful run in a first half that failed to spawn a single shot on target.

Defences dominated with former Preston stopper Trotman in solid shape and also leading his troops well with plenty of comment and encouragement to the men under his captaincy.

North End looked significantly less direct than you may expect from a Graham Westley side, using winger Danny Mayor as their major attacking outlet, but Tommy Lee was in charge of all of the first half deliveries into the box.

Just before the break a Bowery cross destined for Nicky Ajose was sliced just wide by defender Daniel Devine in his first action since October. Liam Ridehalgh’s free-kick found the heads of both Mendy and Bowery but neither could direct them on target and Danny Whitaker’s 20 yarder was also just wide as Spireites started the 2nd half with some purpose.

Lee had to race out of his area to hack clear ahead of Jamie Proctor as the game began to open up. North End introduced ex Barnsley ace Iain Hume and Bailey Wright to try and add some fizz to their attack.

Trotman was unable to head on target from a Ridehalgh set-play and Mayor also dragged a shot wide after a Ridehalgh clearing header fell somewhat short of its intended destination.

Westcarr and Allott had efforts blocked from an Ajose corner and Hume hit wide as the final 15 minutes were entered.

Mendy curled one round the post from the left side of the penalty box ahead of Trotman heading against the bar from a Whitaker corner, Allott then hit the rebound wide, the most memorable moment of a game that few will remember for very long.

Preston (4-4-2): Stuckmann 6, Hunt 6, Robertson 7, Devine 6, Parry 7, Mayor 7, A.Proctor 6, Coutts 6, Cummins 6 (Nicholson 79), J.Proctor 6 (Hume 62, 6), Holroyd 6 (Wright 66, 6). Subs: Arestidou, Murphy.

Chesterfield (4-4-2): Lee 7, Talbot 6, Trotman 7, Thompson 6, Ridehalgh 7, Westcarr 6, Allott 7, Whitaker 6, Mendy 7, Bowery 6, Ajose 6 (Boden 82). Subs: Fleming, Niven, Lowry, Ford.

Ref: Mark Heywood (Cheshire)

Attendance: 9,264