Chesterfield skipper Ian Evatt headed in his first goal of the season to earn a final-day draw at Sheffield United on Sunday.
But he was disappointed that his side did not go on to take the win and clinch fifth spot – which would have meant avoiding Preston in the play-offs.
The man who twice won the play-offs with Blackpool said: “We’ll take away credit from our performance, we’ve turned up lots of times in games in recent weeks and we fully deserve to be where we are.”
On his goal he added: “I’ve been saying to the staff that I save my goals for big games, score big goals.
“It was a great ball from Daniel Jones and I managed to get on the end of it.
“It was a fantastic performance from us and I feel we’re unfortunate not to have won the game.”
Finishing sixth means Spireites face North End in the play-off semi-finals, on Thursday at home and Sunday away.
Evatt said: “Preston will be disappointed with how it’s ended for them.
“They’ll travel back on the bus wondering what might have been and they’ll certainly be disappointed to be in the play-offs after so many weeks in the top two.
“But they’re a good side with a good manager that I know well and I know they’ll turn up on Thursday night – they’re a very good team.
“But we’ll turn up as well, so I’d ask the fans to pack the Proact and then anything can happen.”
The two teams drew a memorable game at Deepdale early in the season, with Spireites coming from three down to draw, whilst North End’s Joe Garner scored twice in PNE’s win at the Proact after Chesterfield had been reduced to 10 men after two minutes when Sam Hird was sent off.
Spireites boss Paul Cook reported no injuries from the game on Sunday, so his team for the first leg will be very similar to that which played so well at Bramall Lane, with Dan Gardner and Gboly Ariyibi vying for a start.