Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Preston North End 3 Chesterfield 0 (4-0 agg): Wembley beckons for Grayson

Simon Grayson will hope his third play-off final outing is as much a charm as his previous two after Preston North End beat Chesterfield 3-0 to seal a 4-0 aggregate win and a place in the League One final.

Much has been made of Preston’s record of failure in nine attempts to gain promotion from the play-offs, but Grayson’s 100 per cent record and an impressive league campaign will give them cause for optimism.

North End finished the regular season 20 points above Chesterfield and the gulf showed at Deepdale on Sunday as goals from strike duo Jermaine Beckford and Joe Garner secured a comfortable passage to Wembley – where they will play Sheffield United or Swindon Town for a place in the Championship.

Beckford opened the scoring shortly before half-time, latching onto his strike partner’s flick to acrobatically volley past Joe Murphy – making his Chesterfield bow after being signed on an emergency loan on the eve of the game.

Murphy was all at sea on the hour as he sprinted from his line to deny Daniel Johnson, but he only succeeded in fouling the Jamaican inside the penalty area and Garner lashed home from 12 yards.

Beckford capped a fine outing for Preston with a stunning late goal from near the halfway line, and the forward pair’s form will delight Grayson, who saw playmaker Paul Gallagher limp off injured, plunging his Wembley status into doubt.

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