Jermaine Beckford scored the only goal of the game after six minutes to give the Lilywhites a slender advantage heading into Sunday’s deciding match at Deepdale.
The goal came during Preston’s only real spell of sustained pressure, while Chesterfield could not make the most of the numerous occasions they were on top and it was a frustrating night of near-misses for the hosts.
Preston suffered the disappointment of missing out on automatic promotion on the final day of the regular season and finished 20 points ahead of the Spireites in the league table, but Roberts is adamant there was no such gulf on Thursday night.
“I think we dominated large parts of the game, it felt like we were camped on the edge of their box,” said Roberts.
“We knew they had quality at the top end of the pitch and, for all our possession, they got the goal and we have to live with that.
“We just didn’t have that cutting edge in front of goal but we can take a lot of positives from the game. We kept the ball well and made them work. They are a good side, don’t get me wrong, but we made them look quite ordinary at times.
“If you take the goal out of it, which I know is a big thing, the performance level was very high. I think we dominated a really good side.
“Preston flew out of the blocks at the start, which was surprising as we thought they might be a little bit flat. But once we got into it we moved the ball really well and I thought we looked the better side.
“‘Once we start controlling games that’s when we are at our best.”
Chesterfield have to win at Deepdale to keep their dream of back-to-back promotions alive.
During the league game there in September the Spireites scored three times without reply as they fought back to earn a 3-3 draw.
Roberts said: “We know we can do it, we’ve shown we can.
“We are behind but we have been behind there [at Deepdale] three times already this season and hit back so we know we are capable.
“We are still in the tie, it’s only one goal. We go there on Sunday knowing that we have to win.
“It’s a nice big pitch that will suit the way we play and we won’t go there disheartened in the slightest, we’re quietly confident.”