SPIREITES: Chesterfield can hold their heads high after play-off disappointment, says Leam Richardson

Paul Cook

Paul Cook

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Leam Richardson said Chesterfield can hold their heads up high after a season which ended at Deepdale to Preston in the League One play-off semi-final.

The Spireites went close through Sam Clucas before Jermaine Beckford scored the first of two on an afternoon that also saw Joe Garner lash home a penalty.

Sam Hird had a header cleared off the line and Jay O’Shea hit the post for Chesterfield who eventually bowed out 3-0 on the day and 4-0 on aggregate.

But, despite speculation over the future of manager Paul Cook continuing to surround the Spireites, Richardson said it was a day to focus on the players’ efforts.

“We did fall short a little bit today but they can certainly hold their heads up high and get their shoulders up and go again,” said Richardson.

“I work with the lads Monday to Friday and again on a Saturday and there have been very few times I’ve had to raise my voice. Individually and collectively they’ve been outstanding.

“We’re very disappointed we haven’t come through the tie because we genuinly thought we’d win today. We thought we had enough for the two legs, enough energy and enough quality to hurt them.

“We’ve had a lot of good days and a lot of positives and when it’s not such a good day you learn a lot more and you pick yourself up quickly and try and get the next one.”

Chesterfield sold defender Liam Cooper to Leeds United at the start of the season and top scorer Eoin Doyle to Cardiff City in February but still finished sixth.

Performances over two play-off semi-final legs against Preston in front of the Sky cameras will do little to detract the growing numbers of suitors.

“When you’ve got a good team, whether it be managers or players, you’ll always have interest in them. We’ve lost a couple of players already,” he said.

“I suggest that a lot of our players are getting looked at because they are good players.”

Richardson signed fresh terms in February along with Cook to remain at the Proact Stadium until the summer of 2017. Portsmouth continue to be linked with Cook and on his own future, Richardson added: “I’ve not spoken to anyone at length about my future.

“I’m contracted to Chesterfield and like today everyone - staff and players - have given everything over the two legs and we certainly wanted to go through to Wembley and we want to carry on at Chesterfield Football Club.”