Beckford’s found happiness at PNE

Jermaine Beckford in jubilant mood at the weekend
Jermaine Beckford in jubilant mood at the weekend
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Simon Grayson believes that happiness is the key to Jermaine Beckford’s red-hot form in a Preston North End shirt.

The on-loan front man netted two superb goals in Sunday’s 3-0 play-off semi-final win over Chesterfield which took them to Wembley.

He also scored the winner against the Spireites in last Thursday’s first-leg tie.

Beckford has 15 goals to his name since joining North End on loan from Bolton last November.

Twelve of those have come since February 28 when he made his comeback from a five-week illness lay-off.

PNE boss Grayson said: “Jermaine knows how we work and we know how he works.

“I think the one thing you have to do with him is make sure he is enjoying his football and is happy.

“You put your arm around him, tell him how good a footballer he is.

“While it is Jermaine’s goals we talk about, his all-round work rate for the team must be acknowledged too.

“That has been fantastic and is a big part of what we have done here.”

Beckford’s partnership with Joe Garner in the PNE attack is undoubtedly the most potent in League One.

It did take quite a while for it to materialise, though.

Within two days of Beckford signing, Garner was injured in November’s away win at Bristol City.

When Garner returned to action 10 weeks later after surgery, Beckford was still recovering from a severe inner-ear infection. It was not until the 5-1 win over Crewe on March 14 that they played together.

Looking back to that illness absence, Beckford says it helped him appreciate how privileged he is to be playing football. “Since the first day I recovered from the illness, I now take every game as it comes,” said Beckford.

“It had got to the point where I had doubts over playing again, so it has been great to get back and score these goals. I’m playing in a team which appreciates how I play and I appreciate how they like to play.”

Beckford thinks that by reaching Wembley, North End have put behind them the bitter disappointment of missing out on automatic promotion. He said: “Colchester was a bad game and we had a bad day – we all know that.

“Maybe the occasion got to us or we were a little bit complacent, knowing where we were in the league and knowing where they were.

“We have responded really well since then, getting the win last Thursday in the first leg and then beating Chesterfield at our place.

“In both legs, we applied ourselves properly and got the wins which we deserved against a very good side.

“We will now get our focus on the final and get ourselves in the best possible shape.

“All the lads are looking forward to Wembley and we are determined to take this chance which we have been given. Hopefully it will be a great occasion.”