After nine unsuccessful attempts, Preston North End are desperate to put an end to their play-off heartbreak when they meet Swindon Town in the League One final.
Over the past 26 years, the club has reached the play-offs in all three tiers of the Football League, but each time they have fallen just short with the glory of promotion in sight.
In manager Simon Grayson they have something of a promotion specialist, the 45-year-old having got out of this division with three separate clubs – twice via the play-offs.
Grayson was unable to transfer that strong record to Preston last season, though, as his side lost out 4-2 on aggregate to Rotherham United in the semi-finals.
Preston reached Sunday’s final at Wembley in convincing fashion, with a 4-0 aggregate success over Chesterfield, while Swindon edged out Sheffield United 7-6 after a thrilling 5-5 draw in the second leg at the County Ground.
“The game can’t come quick enough now,” Grayson told the club’s official website. “The players are looking forward to it, the supporters are; everyone’s excited and probably a little bit apprehensive and nervous – although that’s more supporters than players – and we can’t wait for it to come around.
“A lot of our preparations have been about preparing our players for the day. We have given ourselves the best opportunity to work on things to be ready for what we face and little bit of fine detail can go a long way.
“The real deal is the game and hopefully the experience I’ve had before will help and the players can go and put on the sort of performance we have strived for all season. There are a lot of players who are looking forward to it and it is a fantastic opportunity for us to get into the Championship.”
Swindon, meanwhile, were last in this play-off final five years ago, when they lost out 1-0 to Millwall at Wembley.
Relegation to League Two followed the subsequent season, but they immediately returned as champions and are now bidding to reach the second tier for the first time since 1999-2000.
Both sides were victorious on home soil during the league campaign, but Preston finished 10 points clear of their rivals and Swindon boss Mark Cooper believes that marks his side as underdogs.
“I don’t think there is any expectation on us, Preston are the big favourites,” he told the Swindon Advertiser. “They have a pressure on them. They have to get promoted because of the size of their club and the money they can pay.
“Whereas for us it is a remarkable achievement and we want to go and finish it off. There’s no pressure on us, none at all. We’re just going to go and show everybody what we’re about, to perform.”
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