Preston claim easy promotion to the Championship

Preston claim easy promotion to the Championship

Preston 4 Swindon 0

Jermaine Beckford hit a Wembley hat-trick as Preston ended their play-off jinx at the 10th attempt.

The striker, fittingly wearing the number 10 shirt, wrote his name in North End folklore as they swept aside Swindon 4-0 to clinch promotion to the Sky Bet Championship.

Having lost their previous nine play-off campaigns – the worst record of any club – there were fears Preston would choke on the big day once again.

But they found accommodating opposition in Swindon, who simply rolled over after Beckford opened the scoring with just two minutes on the clock.

Beckford has reached 20 goals this season despite missing a chunk of the campaign suffering from a type of vertigo, but the on-loan Bolton forward is now poised to climb the football ladder once again.

Whether that is with Preston remains to be seen as, having been released by Wanderers, Beckford is now a free agent and plenty of other clubs will be sniffing around.

But manager Simon Grayson will worry about that another day after victory provided him with a record four-timer – having previously guided Blackpool, Leeds and Huddersfield up from League One.

That he would achieve such an impressive feat rarely looked in doubt after Beckford got his foot to Paul Gallagher’s free-kick to prod Preston in front.

To add to Swindon’s misery, their captain Nathan Thompson fell awkwardly under Beckford and had to be carried off on a stretcher – another early play-off final casualty following Wycombe’s Sam Saunders’ two-second injury on Saturday.

Ten minutes later referee Andy Madley played a good advantage after John Welsh was felled on the left and Gallagher had time to pick out Paul Huntington, who was unmarked as he guided the ball home from the edge of the six-yard box.

Swindon should have pulled one back in the 43rd minute, and given themselves a fighting chance, when Nathan Byrne crossed into the area but Michael Smith guided his header wide with the net gaping.

And 60 seconds later Beckford all but wrapped up the result when he turned inside Jordan Turnbull on the edge of the box before curling a superb effort beyond Wes Foderingham and into the corner.

Four minutes into the second half, when Beckford raced clean through on goal, the hat-trick appeared a formality only for Foderingham to stick out a leg and divert the ball wide.

But there was only going to be one outcome when, in the 56th minute, Joe Garner sent his strike partner through again and this time Beckford made no mistake to complete his treble and make it 10th time lucky for Preston.

More in this Section

In pictures: Tributes paid to Kobe BryantIn pictures: Tributes paid to Kobe Bryant

New FAI President keen for Brian Kerr to return to FAINew FAI President keen for Brian Kerr to return to FAI

England prop Kyle Sinckler joins Bristol on two-year dealEngland prop Kyle Sinckler joins Bristol on two-year deal

Dear Basketball – Kobe Bryant’s Oscar-winning retirement letterDear Basketball – Kobe Bryant’s Oscar-winning retirement letter


It couldn't be easier to add life to soil, says Peter Dowdall.It’s good to get your hands dirty in the garden

Kya deLongchamps sees Lucite as a clear winner for collectors.Vintage View: Lucite a clear winner for collectors

Their passion for the adventures of JK Rowling’s famous wizard cast a love spell on Cork couple Triona Horgan and Eoin Cronin.Wedding of the Week: Passion for Harry Potter cast spell on Cork couple

After in-depth explainers on Watergate and the Clinton affair in seasons one and two, respectively, Slate podcast Slow Burn took a left turn in its third season, leaving behind politics to look at the Tupac-Notorious BIG murders in the mid-1990s.Podcast Corner: Notorious killings feature in Slow Burn

More From The Irish Examiner