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By Sam Lyon
So, very much all to play for in the second legs in both matches, then, though you have to feel it was the away sides in both encounters that just about edged it. If that form is carried over in the next leg, it'll be Sheffield United and MK Dons looking forward to Wembley berths... who wants to call it, though?
Anyway, you're all a bunch of heroes - for your information, Stevo is back in the chair tomorrow for your entertainment purposes. Jubbly.
2140 - FULL-TIME: Scunthorpe 1-1 MK Dons
2140 - FULL-TIME: Preston 1-1 Sheff Utd
An, ahem, interesting approach from Arturo Lupoli as the striker tries to literally punch a corner into the net. Andre Marriner spots it a mile off, though, and flashes the yellow card.
Oh dear, that is scandalous. Craig Beattie bursts in behind the Preston defence two minutes into injury time and, baring down on goal, has Arturo Lupoli in all kinds of space in the box. However, instead of squaring to the Italian for an easy tap-in, he goes it alone and Andy Lonergan saves his effort with his feet. Lupoli goes all 'Drogba' on Beattie, and rightly so.
Apparently there will be five extra minutes at Deepdale.
Sam Baldock twice goes close for MK Dons at Glanford Park, but Joe Murphy pulls off a fine double save to keep Scunthorpe level.
Super effort and super save at Deepdale as Andy Lonergan goes full stretch to turn away Brian Howard's fierce 20-yarder.
Preston are enjoying their best spell of the half right now, but still they are struggling to really trouble the Blades goal. It's not for the lack of vocal support, though, a cracking effort from the North End fans this.
A rare foray into the Blades half from Preston, but Chris Brown's tame header is easily collected by Paddy Kenny.
Chris Morgan tries to liven up a match that is threatening to become duller than a pair of Mr Muscle's pants, the Blades skipper driving at goal from 16 yards on the angle, but Andy Lonergan gets down well to save at his near post. Preston boss Alan Irvine brings Chris Brown on for Neil Mellor.
Jamie Ward looks like he's pulled a hamstring here and he'll have to go off injured. Shame for the Blades, that, he's looked lively this evening. Former Gunner Arturo Lupoli is the man to replace him.
"Anyone think Nick Montgomery looks like Jack from Lost?" Phil via text on 81111
Barry Nicholson comes on for Preston's Darren Carter, but all of a sudden both teams have an air of settling-for-the-draw about them.
Well well well, just as the Deepdale clash gets scrappier than Scooby Doo's nephew, Craig Beattie breaks the offside trap to run free of the Preston defence, only to blast his effort way over. Big chance and a big waste.
Cracking chance for MK Dons at Glanford Park - the best of the half - as Miguel Llera goes up completely unmarked eight yards out, only to power his header miles over the bar. Oopsa-daisy.
And now Matt Kilgallon gets a yellow for a bit of a swipe at Neil Mellor. Touch harsh, that one, but Preston looking to get themselves back in this now.
Darren Carter goes into the book for an ugly-ish lunge at Kyle Naughton. The Preston fans are a little aggrieved when the Sheffield United defender goes from fallen soldier one minute to March hare the next.
Sheffield United's Craig Beattie comes on for Darius Henderson - it looks tactical rather than because of injury, but I'll keep you posted if not.
Greg Halford is the latest United player to have a pop at the Preston goal, but his tame volley drifts wide. It's fair to say the hosts are hanging on a bit here.
Sheffield United have picked up where they left off in the first half in terms of possession. Stephen Quinn tries his luck from 20 yards but it's about as threatening as a dolphin in a sand pit and it drifts wide.
That goal was timed at 21 seconds into the half. North End boss Alan Irvine looks like someone's laced his half-time pint of stout with lemon.
2050 - GOAL: Preston 1-1 Sheff Utd
Unbelievable! Barely 20 seconds into the half and Preston have been well and truly caught napping. Brian Howard
is the goalscorer, the midfielder getting on the end of Jamie Ward's cross to volley into the net with Andy Lonergan beaten and we're all square.
... and at Deepdale too.
Back under way between Scunthorpe and MK Dons.
The teams are remerging at Glanford Park and Deepdale. I wonder if the players enjoy the traditional half-time oranges these days or whether they do some funky sports drink effort these days? Get a brew down ya lads like in the old days...
"Here is the time, as a Reading Fan, I start worrying! Preston in amazing form." mattyreading2009 on 606
"That prediction at 1929 is starting to scare me." The Anderson, Rafael and Fabio Posse(bon)! on 606 Join the debate
Well then, it's tighter than a pair of Paris Hilton's hotpants at the moment isn't it? A few of you are asking if away goals count in these play-off matches - they don't folks. It's extra-time and penalties if even after the second leg. Which is nice.
2034 - HALF-TIME: Preston 1-0 Sheff Utd
2033 - HALF-TIME: Scunthorpe 1-1 MK Dons
Another cracking effort from Jamie Ward, the midfielder bringing down Chris Morgan's header in the box and firing goalwards - only for Sean St Ledger to deflect it over the bar.
"Loving the Championship Manager circa 1996 graphics! Welcome to the 20th century, beeb!" Zippy, George and Bungle on 606 Join the debate
Youl Mawene's had a cracking game for Preston so far and it is the big defender who clears the hosts' lines again as Greg Halford and then Kyle Naughton swing in crosses for Sheffield United.
Miguel Llera goes into the book at Glanford Park following a cynical foul on Gary Hooper - which gives me an opportunity to dish out the funky 'yellow card' graphic. Jeez, I need to get out more.
Someone bust out the Benny Hill theme tune - Matt Kilgallon needlessly concedes a corner with a bizarre backpass and Preston so nearly take advantage. Jon 'The Beast' Parkin rises highest to meet Ross Wallace's set-piece but can only direct his thumping header onto the upright.
It's all Sheffield United at Deepdale now, with the Preston defence so deep they can almost smell the sweat of their own fans. You gotta love that Lynx aroma I suppose...
"Baby in bed...Check. Wife upstairs reading...Check. Beer open...Check. Sky upgraded...Negative...5Live on...Check. North End scored...Check." Stew in Carlisle
Terrific keeping from Andy Lonergan as Sheffield United pen Preston back in search of an equaliser, the home keeper turning the ball round the post from Stephen Quinn's fierce drive.
"That Linesman should ref the Champions league final!" CarmarthenJack22 - With God As My Witness.. And Football As My Mistress on 606 Join the debate
2011 - GOAL: Scunthorpe 1-1 MK Dons
Aaron Wilbraham levels it up at Glanford Park with his 17th goal of the season, nodding in from close range after Scunthorpe fail to clear a disputed corner.
Almost an immediate response from Sheffield United as Greg Halford dashes into the box up the other end, only to send a fierce half volley narrowly wide. Moments later Youl Mawene's desperate last-ditch clearance prevents Darius Henderson tapping into an empty net.
2007 - GOAL: Preston 1-0 Sheff Utd
That's terrific refereeing - Sean St Ledger
receives the ball six yards out from a long Preston free-kick and he looks a country mile offside as he takes it on the chest and slots it in with aplomb. However, replays show Blades midfielder Nick Montgomery flicked the ball on and the goal quite rightly stands. Deepdale fans celebrate like Mr Tickle in a blender and who can blame them.
"Hi Sam, I'm not at either ground but i am a Cardiff fan... crying... Alone." Steve in Cardiff via text on 81111
Darius Henderson pulls the sulky schoolboy act as he claims Preston defender Youl Mawene has a hold of his shirt in the box, but referee Andre Marriner is about as impressed as a teenager faced with a plate of brussel sprouts and waves away the appeals with distain.
By the way, neither Preston nor Sheff Utd are the biggest lovers of the play-offs - seven times Preston have been in this position and United four times - and neither have been promoted through this system. Ouch.
Ross Wallace - how important might his return to the Preston side be? - threatens down the right-hand side on three occasions, but United close him down well and the chance to cross is gone.
1957 - GOAL: Scunthorpe 1-0 MK Dons Martyn Woolford
breaks the deadlock at Glanford Park as the midfielder latches on to Willy Gueret's parry from a Paul Hayes shot to squeeze the ball over the keeper and into the net. First blood to the sixth-place finishers.
Over at Glanford Park, MK Dons' Jason Puncheon has gone closest to an opener so far, his 20-yarder forcing a decent save from Scunthorpe keeper Joe Murphy.
Kyle Naughton gets the better of Chris Sedgwick as Sheff Utd look to break at Deepdale, but the Preston midfielder scythes him down and he's lucky to escape a yellow. United looking dangerous here.
Close! Great turn in the box from Jamie Ward as he latches on to Greg Halford's cross and his near-post snap-shot is turned away by Preston keeper Andy Lonergan.
Frantic, yet uneventful starts in both the matches - the home sides dominating possession without creating a great deal. Anyone reckon Carlos Tevez is keeping an eye on proceedings at Deepdale?
Preston get things started against Sheffield United.
Prompt start at Glanford Park as Scunthorpe and MK Dons get under way, less so at Deepdale... tut tut...
"A word of advice; being an Ipswich fan and a veteran of watching (and suffering) in the play-offs, I warn you DO NOT even TRY and predict the outcome of any play-off match. They are like derbies; form book, points, kitchen sink are out of the window. In the play-offs, ANYTHING can and will happen." Tractor-on-the-mend-Boy via 606 Join the debate
Massive, MASSIVE atmospheres at Deepdale and Glanford Park, I tell ya. If you're at either ground, do me a favour and sink a pint of the laughing juice and a meat pie for me. And then drop me a text on 81111
and let me know just how fast either run through your system. Ah, lower league meat pies, you'll never get better...
By the way, let's all hold hands and chant wildly into the spring night and pray for goals in the Preston-Sheff Utd match; the two fixtures between the sides this season yielded all of one goal. Hhmm.
"Scunthorpe and Preston to win tonight, with Scunthorpe and Reading or Burnley to go up." Eothain - Basinas to Start on 606 Join the debate
And it's a similar story in League One - Scunthorpe snatched their play-off place on the last day of the season thanks to Cliff Byrne's 88th-minute equaliser against Tranmere, while MK Dons flirted with automatic promotion for a long time before having to settle for the play-offs thanks to a poor run of form in March. As the affable Dons boss Roberto di Matteo insists: "I don't think there are favourites to be honest." So there you go.
"I think a 2-1 win for Sheffield Utd, they will come back from a goal down at half time, surviving a first half onslaught from Preston with just a goal deficit and showing some quality to bag a couple early in the second half." Jones & Cisse's Saturday Night Takeaway on 606 Join the debate
"Preston deserve Premier League football - if only for being the original champions. Huge following. Northern. Average university. They belong in the top flight of football!" Mick Gornall, United fan via text on 81111
1924: League One line-ups Scunthorpe:
Murphy, Byrne, Mirfin, Crosby, Morris, Sparrow, Togwell, McCann, Woolford, Hayes, Hooper.
Subs: Lillis, Thompson, Pearce, May, Trotter.
Now then, how did North End and the Blades get to this position I don't hear you ask? Well we're looking at the two form teams of the Championship here - Preston strung four wins out of four together to snatch the last play-off spot out of Cardiff's grasp, while Sheff Utd have been beaten just once in 14 matches. Blades fans will hope missing out on automatic promotion does not weigh too heavily on their players' heads, and also that their side can upset the form book and grab a rare win at Deepdale - United have won only twice there since 1955.
"I just wonder how the Dons will respond to throwing away that automatic promotion place with their late season form. Scunthorpe are a decent outfit and could revel in their role as under-dogs." JaapStamsKahunas on 606
"I'm rooting for an all Lancashire final. Tonight is too close to call. Preston's midfield will have to really pressure United's full-backs and I predict Sedgwick to emerge as a surprise hero. Up the Whites!" Mooney_is_God on 606 Join the debate
"Come on Preston - we beat Cardiff for you, now return the favour by beating Sheffield United tonight!" Ian, a Sheffield Wednesday fan, via text on 81111
Finally - this is your night Football League fans, so get in touch via 606 or text on 81111. I'm happy to entertain any of your thoughts and musings, but ones based upon football are the most likely to get your name 'up in lights' on this commentary, I won't lie.
Join the debate
"I think Sheffield United will triumph tonight, with Reading eventually winning the third Premier League spot." I belong to Nasri - But My name is Heather Trott on 606
And, lest we forget, tonight also sees the League One play-off semi-final first-leg clash between Scunthorpe and MK Dons get under way. Forgive me in advance if I concentrate more wholly on the Preston-Sheff Utd match, but I'll certainly be keeping you up to date on all things League One as and when it happens.
A reported £50m will be at stake on 24 May when two of Sheffield United, Reading, Burnley and Preston battle it out in a bid to join Wolves and Birmingham in progressing to the 'promised land' next season - and for Sheffield United and Preston, that play-off journey kicks off tonight. I'll leave it shroompne
to give you an idea of a fan's feelings ahead of tonight's match at Deepdale... "I'm nervous, excited, frustrated, full of anticipation, expectation, dread, butterflies are bashing about inside my body, I can't sit still and I can't even have a smoke either..."
I tell you what, you can keep your Champions League semi-final handbags, your Premier League title scuffles and Saturday's potential SPL title-decider between Celtic and Rangers - if you want to know what the biggest match in British football is, look no further than the Football League Championship play-offs. Right?
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