SPIREITES 2014/15 SEASON REVIEW IN PICTURES: In a campaign full of highs and lows, no reason for Chesterfield to be feeling down

Following a season full of highs and lows, Chesterfield shouldn’t feel down after missing out on the chance to play at Wembley for a place in the Championship.

The Spireites’ play-off campaign may have ended at Deepdale against a Preston side, who showed the value of having two strikers in the team, as Jermaine Beckford and Joe Garner provided three moments (four, including the first leg) of utter brilliance, but the story rumbles on.

Preston North End vs Chesterfield - Tendayi Darikwa claps to the Chesterfield fans at full time - Pic By James Williamson

Preston North End vs Chesterfield - Tendayi Darikwa claps to the Chesterfield fans at full time - Pic By James Williamson

A season that began with a morale-boosting victory of one of the pre-season promotion favourites - and play-off finalists last season - Leyton Orient, on their own patch, saw Chesterfield continue the momentum that comes with a JP Trophy final and League Two championship.

The Spireites, under manager Paul Cook and assistant Leam Richardson, caught one or two on the hop early on as their brand of attacking, free-flowing football that fans had come to know over the previous campaign carried out a smooth transition in a division higher.

Their work has rightly not gone unnoticed and has seen Cook heavily-tipped for a lucrative move away from the Proact Stadium - with Portsmouth seemingly going to win the race for one of the game’s highly-regarded up and coming managers - now the season has concluded.

If he were to leave and Fratton Park his preferred destination, Pompey a club desperate to move up from English football’s fourth tier to loftier heights of the not too distant past, he would leave Chesterfield after having overseen one of the most successful periods in the club’s history.

Preston North End vs Chesterfield - Paul Cook - Pic By James Williamson

Preston North End vs Chesterfield - Paul Cook - Pic By James Williamson

A season which has seen the Spireites get the upper hand over rivals Sheffield United, Barnsley and Notts County - taking four points off each - and three out of four wins over promoted MK Dons, including two 1-0 results in the administrative-error FA Cup tie.

Departures of two stand-out performers in Liam Cooper to Leeds United at the beginning of the season and top scorer Eoin Doyle to Cardiff City in February didn’t disrupt the team as Sam Hird and Sam Clucas, a signing from Mansfield Town, took over the reins.

Additions to the squad have had varying degrees of success, with Romy Boco a steady hand before his January move to Indian side Bharat FC, Dan Jones providing the type of energy on the left side of the pitch that Tendayi Darikwa offered on the right.

Charlie Raglan could count himself unlucky not to have more than the 25 appearances with several no-nonsense displays whereas Charlie Dawes and Michael Onovwigun have largely been non-existent in the first team picture following their summer moves.

Preston North End vs Chesterfield - Chesterfield Fans at Deepdale - Pic By James Williamson

Preston North End vs Chesterfield - Chesterfield Fans at Deepdale - Pic By James Williamson

Byron Harrison, Mani Dieseruvwe and Gboly Ariyibi have all shown glimpses of what they could offer and they could find themselves having more of a role to play next season with several influential figures over the past two seasons attracting interest.

It remains to be seen who will be part of next season’s squad with Jimmy Ryan and Drew Talbot at the end of their current deals. There could be a re-building job for whoever is in the dugout come August - some of which may come from within from the club’s youth side.

Mark Smith’s U18s side topped the North East Youth Alliance on goal difference at one stage before falling away at the last and finishing behind champions Bradford City and runners-up Doncaster Rovers in the final weeks of the season.

The young Spireites enjoyed a run in the prestigious FA Youth Cup too, beating Aston Villa at the Proact before bowing out away at Leicester City in the fourth round. Two stars of the team - defender Laurence Maguire and striker Jake Beesley - were offered professional forms in April.

Preston North End vs Chesterfield - Gary Roberts controls the ball - Pic By James Williamson

Preston North End vs Chesterfield - Gary Roberts controls the ball - Pic By James Williamson

And, speaking to the Derbyshire Times in March, after the U18s promising run in the league, Chesterfield chief executive Chris Turner said there would be an emphasis on youth going forward for the club - the “Harry Kane effect”.

“When I came to the club there were no youth team players signed on as professionals,” said Turner. “Players would walk out after four months of signing professional forms. We have to develop our own. We have got one of the best youth teams in category three football.

“We are really strong and the current run is a magnificent achievement. This is the future of the club. Youth football is very important, we want them to supplement the first team squad and have first team debutantes from the academy.”

Scenes at the end of the match at Deepdale would have hurt the Spireites, the play-offs can be a cruel mistress, but the majority of the 1,628 supporters who travelled from North Derbyshire stayed until the end to show their appreciation for those representing the badge.

A seven-game unbeaten run from mid-March, shortly after they had surpassed the 50-point barrier needed to ensure League One survival at home to Gillingham, saw Chesterfield break away from the pack and rise up the table and in to the play-offs.

What followed, particularly in the second half of the first play-off leg with Preston, was the Spireites at their best - possibly even surpassing the memorable occasions of the past two years - but ultimately saw them finish just short of the mark. Though far from feeling down.

Preston North End vs Chesterfield - Sam Morsy is held by Joe Garner as he tries to clear the ball away from Daniel Johnson - Pic By James Williamson

Preston North End vs Chesterfield - Sam Morsy is held by Joe Garner as he tries to clear the ball away from Daniel Johnson - Pic By James Williamson

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Preston North End vs Chesterfield - Daniel Jones battles with Preston's Joe Garner - Pic By James Williamson

Preston North End vs Chesterfield - Daniel Jones battles with Preston's Joe Garner - Pic By James Williamson