PNE seal promotion with 4-0 win over Swindon Town

  • Preston North End clinch promotion to the Championship after 4-0 victory over Swindon Town
  • Beckford scored in the 3rd, 44th and 57th minute
  • Paul Huntington scored in the 13th minute
  • Paul Gallagher set up the first two goals but was subbed off due to injury
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Jermaine Beckford carved his name into Preston North End’s history book as his sublime hat-trick fired PNE back into the Championship.

The striker rippled the back of the net in just the third minute as stole in at the back post and fired home Paul Gallagher’s fierce free-kick.

Preston North End's Jermaine Beckford and Preston North End manager Simon Grayson celebrate with the play off trophy

Preston North End's Jermaine Beckford and Preston North End manager Simon Grayson celebrate with the play off trophy

Gallagher teed-up Paul Huntington nine minutes later as the centre back crept into the six-yard box unmarked and poked the ball home.

But the match belonged to one man and Beckford all but sealed the clash in the 44th minute as he latched on to strike partner Garner’s pass.

He raced towards goal before turning back on himself and unleashing an unstoppable strike that flew past Swindon keeper Wes Foderingham.

And the man-of-the-match made it 18 goals since joining North End on-loan in November as he pounced on Garner’s ball and honed in on goal before coolly slotting the ball home and erasing the heartbreak of North End’s final day slip-up at Colchester.

Man-of-the-moment Beckford gave PNE the perfect start. After he was tripped by Swindon captain Nathan Thompson he dusted himself down to pop up at the back post and slot home Gallagher’s subsequent set-piece in the third minute.

Thompson was stretchered off moments after the goal after his leg was sandwiched between Beckford and Tom Clarke as the defender tried in vain to stop the striker diverting home.

North End doubled their lead from another set-piece and another fine Gallagher assist. Swindon failed to clear a Gallagher corner and John Welsh slid in to tee the Scot up in space on the left. Gallagher’s cross just fizzed over Beckford’s head but rock solid centre back Huntington was on hand to tap the ball home in the 13th minute.

Swindon’s only real meaningful attempt was thwarted by Welsh as he deflected Jack Stephens’ shot over the bar.

Gallagher’s last input on the game nearly led to yet another goal as the set-piece specialist fired the ball into the path of Clarke at the back post. The North End captain headed the ball back across goal and it flew wide of the right post but referee Andy Madley awarded Swindon a free-kick after some shirt pulling in the area.

Gallagher picked up a knock in the 3-0 semi-final victory over Chesterfield and was brought off after appearing to tweak the foot injury .

Swindon striker Michael Smith wasted a golden opportunity to pull a goal back as his diving header flew wide of the left post. The striker was just six-yards out and should have hit the target.

But Beckford showed him how it is done as he rippled the back of the net from the subsequent goal kick.

Garner nodded the ball into his path and Beckford turned his man before curling the ball beyond a helpless Wes Foderingham in the 44th minute.

Goal hungry Beckford nearly completed his hat-trick just minutes into the second half. The striker pounced on Neil Kilkenny’s pass and ran through on goal but his low, hard strike was palmed away by a diving Foderingham in the 50th minute.

Just seven minutes later in an almost carbon copy situation Beckford was cool as a cucumber as he latched on to Garner’s pass and slipped the ball with ease into the bottom right corner to become only the third man in history to score a hat-trick in a play-off final.

Beckford came off injured in the 68th minute and walked off the field to a standing ovation from over 22,000 North End fans.

Minutes later Smith summed up Swindon’s day as he sliced a shot way over Johnstone’s bar.

Kevin Davies nodded Kilkenny’s fierce free-kick just wide of the left post in the 73rd minute and attempted some acrobatics moments later as the veteran striker tried but failed to pull Garner’s header across goal out of the air with his toe.

But Swindon would not roll over as they tested Sam Johnstone twice in quick succession. First the on-loan Manchester United keeper flew across goal to palm Jordan Turnbull’s long range effort away and then he managed to keep out Jonathan Obika’s header.

But PNE weathered the small storm to keep a clean sheet and return to the Championship in style after a four year hiatus.

PNE: Johnstone, Clarke, Wright, Huntington, Woods, Welsh, Kilkenny, Johnson (Laird, 82) Beckford (K Davies, 68) Gallagher (Browne, 37), Garner. Subs not used: Stuckmann, Humphrey, Reid, Hugill.

Swindon: Foderingham, N Thompson (Ricketts, 5) Byrne, Luongo, Stephens, Turnbull, Gladwin (L Thompson, 57), Kasim, Smith, Toffolo (Williams, 66), Obika. Subs not used: Hylton, Rodgers, Belford, Rossi-Branco.

Referee: Andy Madley (West Yorkshire)

Attendance: 48,236.