Who will PNE get in play-offs?

Simon Grayson
Simon Grayson
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Dave Seddon’s press view

Later today, once the dust settles on the final league games, the play-off picture will be clearer.

This week has been taken up by a guessing game over the identity of Preston’s opponents in the semi-finals.

League One’s play-off rank of order is completely up in the air until the final whistles sound at Gresty Road, the County Ground and Stadium:MK.

Only then we will know who plays who, when and where.

The one certainty is that Peterborough cannot finish higher than sixth and so are readying themselves to face whoever finishes third.

As for the rest, it is as clear as mud until around 5pm.

If North End beat Crewe, it is a third-place finish and off we go to London Road next Saturday lunchtime.

Anything less than three points in Cheshire, and who knows what will happen.

Simon Grayson’s men could lose to Crewe today and still finish third.

Yet a draw against the Railwaymen has the potential to drop them down to fifth which would mean playing the semi-final first leg at home.

If the jockeying for position is fraying the nerves, just think what the real business will be like!

So who do we all want the Lilywhites to play?

In my book, all four of the play-off sides have their strengths and weaknesses which could potentially work for and against them in the end-of-season bunfight.

Peterborough might have finished several points adrift of the three sides above them, but don’t under-estimate them.

Sixth-place sides have won promotion before, and Posh can boast a big-game past.

They have experienced Wembley already this season in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final.

What could count against them is their inconsistency, Fergie Jnr’s side having won 23 league games but losing 18 with just four draws in the middle.

On paper at least, they look more appealable semi-final opponents than a side to face at Wembley.

Leyton Orient have been up there all season, initially at the top and latterly in the play-off positions.

North End’s win and draw against Orient is the most profitable of their meetings with the other play-off sides.

Rotherham have maintained their momentum from last season’s promotion.

Their fitness levels look to be something else when you consider the ridiculously high number of late goals they have scored this term.

Back in February, PNE were on the end of that particular sting in the tail.

In between going 2-0 down to the Millers and then conceding that 89th minute equaliser, Preston were very good and worthy of the three goals they scored.

To use a cliché, the play-offs are a lottery.

There’s no set formula for success.

The away leg second is desirable but not an absolute must.

Success has followed down the years whether sides finish third, fourth, fifth or sixth.

The play-offs are a cracking idea in terms of keeping the season alive, although there are arguments for tweaking the set-up.

All we need now is for North End to finally discover the magic winning formula!