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Preston look to cut down Blades and end their play-off misery - while Leeds aim to tame Lions

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07 May 2009 12:20:30

Preston look to cut down Blades and end their play-off misery - while Leeds aim to tame Lions

The Coca-Cola League play-offs get underway tonight with League Two taking centre stage. It's the 23rd time the play-offs have taken place and each year they get more and more dramatic - expect one of the least fancied teams to go all the way. And results between the semi-finalists in League meetings this season suggest six cracking games. It's there: Neil Harris celebrates scoring his second and Millwall's third goal in their defeat of Leeds this season Preston may have crept into through the backdoor on a solitary goal scored but they now really have a point to prove. The Deepdale club have reached the play-offs seven times in the past and despite reaching three finals have never won one. They have played in all three levels and this is their fourth appearance in the Championship play-offs since 2001. Sheffield United have made two appearance at this stage before - reaching one final.  The other semi-final is too close to call with both Reading and Burnley having reached five play-offs between them, the former reaching two finals but the latter actually winning one - 15 years ago against Stockport. MK Dons have reached just one play-off before and they will take heart that League One opponents Scunthorpe boast a dismal record. Four of their six appearances have ended in semi-final defeats with just one final success, against Leyton Orient last century. Leeds will be odds-on favourites to sweep aside Millwall. The Elland Road club have reached the final of their three previous play-offs, albeit they have lost every one, but the Lions have played eight play-off matches and have never won a single one - indeed, they've only drawn two of them. In League Two, Gillingham fans will remember their heartbreaking penalties defeat to Manchester City in 1999 and their defeat of Wigan the following year. Their opponents Rochdale have reached the play-offs twice before, including last year when they lost to Stockport in the final. The other semi-final sees beaten 2007 finalists Shrewsbury take on a Bury side who have not reached a final despite making it this far an incredible five times. Championship semi-finalsSheffield United v Preston This season Sheffield United 1 Preston 0 Preston 0 Sheffield United 0 Sheffield United play-off history1997: Lost Div 1 final to Crystal Palace1998: SF Div 1 lost to Sunderland2003: Lost Div 1 final to Wolves Preston play-off history 1989: SF Div 2 lost to Port Vale1994: Lost Div 3 final to Wycombe1995: SF Div 3 lost to Bury1999: SF Div 2 lost to Gillingham2001: Lost Div 1 final to Bolton2005: Lost Div 1 final to West Ham2006: SF Div 1 lost to Leeds Reading v Burnley This season Reading 3 Burnley 1 Burnley 1 Reading 0 Reading play-off history 1995: Lost Div 1 final to Bolton2001: Lost Div 2 final to Walsall2003: SF Div 1 lost to Wolves Burnley play-off history 1991: SF Div 3 lost to Torquay1994: Won Div 2 final v Stockport League One semi-finalsScunthorpe v MK Dons This season MK Dons 0 Scunthorpe 2 Scunthorpe 0 MK Dons 1 MK Dons play-off history 2007: SF Div 3 lost to Shrewsbury Scunthorpe play-off history 1988: SF Div 3 lost to Torquay1989: SF Div 3 lost to Wrexham1991: SF DIv 3 lost to Blackpool1992: Lost Div 3 final to Blackpool1999: Won Div 3 final v Leyton Orient2003: SF Div 3 lost to Lincoln Millwall v Leeds This season Millwall 3 Leeds 1 Leeds 2 MIllwall 0 Leeds play-off history 1987: Lost Div 1 final replay to Charlton2006: Lost Div 1 final to Watford2008: Lost Div 2 final to DoncasterMillwall play-off history 1990: SF Div 1 lost to Brighton 1994: SF Div 1 lost to Derby 2000: SF Div 2 lost to Wigan 2002: SF Div 1 lost to Birmingham League Two semi-finalsRochdale v Gillingham This season Rochdale 0 Gillingham 1 Gillingham 1 Rochdale 1 Rochdale play-off history 2002: SF Div 3 lost to Rushden & D2008: Lost Div 3 final to StockportGillingham play-off history 1987: Lost Div 2 final replay to Swindon 1999: Lost Div 2 final to Manchester City 2000: Won Div 2 final v Wigan Shrewsbury v Bury This season Bury 2 Shrewsbury 1 Shrewsbury 1 Bury 0 Shrewsbury play-off history 2007: Lost Div 3 final to Bristol Rovers Bury play-off history 1990: SF Div 2 lost to Tranmere1991: SF Div 2 lost to Bolton1993: SF Div 3 lost to York 1995: SF Div 3 lost to Bury2003: SF Div 3 lost to Bournemouth


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