“We go into these play-offs now with a great chance”

Paul Cook has heaped high praise on FC Halifax Town before the Spireites’ National League play-off eliminator at The Shay on Tuesday night. 

Speaking to media, he said: “Halifax are a very, very strong side. They’ve got great qualities within the team, and we know we are if for a really difficult night.

“[Pete Wild] is a manager I’ve got to know only since I’ve come back to Chesterfield, but I’ve got a lot of respect for him and for his club.

“I think they are an outstanding club who are fighting at the top end of a league where there are some bigger teams without a shadow of a doubt.

“[The play-offs] are exciting, they have big attendances, they are 90 miles an hour football and they are hurly-burly. We will prepare our players the best we can for what situation arises.”

Chesterfield secured a play-off place with a 0-0 draw at home to Woking on the final day – beating Dagenham & Redbridge to the punch by one point.

Cook points out that all clubs in the play-offs will start once more on a level playing field despite the Blues’ patchy end of season form.

Cook said: “Our league form at the end of the season was way off where it needed to be. That was quite clear for everybody to see. We very much stuttered over the line.

“Like everyone, we go into these play-offs now with a great chance. Football is a very funny game. The team that finishes second or seventh, there may  20-30 points between them, but they go to level starting blocks. 

“That is what makes the play-offs so unique. We’ve got a really tough game at Halifax tomorrow night. In my opinion, we’ve got an equal chance as everyone else.”

Cook has taken part in a couple of play-off campaigns as a manager – including one with Chesterfield – and he is hoping for that elusive first successful play-off bid.

“You’re in a situation tomorrow night after probably two hours, give or take, of football that our season could be carrying on or our season could be over. That’s football,” he stated.

“It’s tough; it’s unforgiving. But it’s also so exciting, and so good when it goes for you. I’ve been lucky to sample some amazing days in football.

“Going up in the play-offs is not one of the things I’ve sampled. So, it’s something I crave for as a manager.”

Over 2,000 Spireites are expected to travel to West Yorkshire on Tuesday night in hope of seeing the Blues reach the semi-final stage of the National League play-offs for the first time.

Cook was full of praise for the supporters, saying: “It’s absolutely outstanding – no different to the 850+ that travelled to Torquay. One of the things we know about our club is that our supporters will turn up.

“For us now, it’s finding a way to win at Halifax tomorrow night that will see our supporters leave that stadium elated and believing that we can go to Solihull and win another game of football.”