Jermaine Beckford carved his name into the history books after firing Preston North End into the play-off final with a sensational wonder goal.
Beckford led the charge to Wembley on Thursday night with his sixth minute strike and continued his scintillating form by opening the scoring in style in the 38th minute of the semi-final second-leg.
Beckford allowed Joe Garner’s inch perfect pass to roll over his shoulder before he thundered the ball into the back of the net.
Not one to miss out on the action top goalscorer Garner ensured his name was on the scoresheet as he fired home from the spot to all but secure a trip to the capital in the 62nd minute.
The striker started the move that would ultimately lead to Chesterfield’s emergency loanne keeper Joe Murphy tripping Daniel Johnson on the edge of the box.
Garner fed Kilkenny who teed-up Johnson with a heavy ball but the midfield maestro beat the shot-stopper to the ball and referee Andy D’Urso pointed to the spot.
But Beckford stole the headlines by finishing what he started with an incredible strike with a goal that rivalled THAT Garner goal from last season’s play-off failure.
If you thought his first was good, his second of the afternoon blew the crowd away.
Just five yards into the Chesterfield half the striker proved his Premier League pedigree after spotting the keeper off his line and deftly chipping the ball over the shot-stopper to seal a 3-0 win and a 4-0 semi-final aggregate victory.
With Beckford firing on all cylinders North End are aiming to end their play-off hoodoo of nine failures at the play-off final at Wembley on Sunday, May 24.
PNE boss Simon Grayson made two changes to the side that beat Chesterfield 1-0 in the semi-final first-leg at the Proact Stadium.
Calum Woods and Neil Kilkenny came in for Chris Humphrey and Scott Laird who moved to the bench.
Sam Clucas’ exploited a defensive mistake and stormed forward but his 25-yard low shot just fizzed past Sam Johnstone’s left hand post in the second minute.
Beckford latched on to a Garner flick-on with his back to goal in the 13th minute but he was unable to pull the trigger as he fell to the ground under pressure from Daniel Jones. The striker appealed for a penalty but referee Andy D’Urso waved away his claim.
Paul Huntington’s tame header was easily collected by Chesterfield’s on-loan keeper Joe Murphy. The Huddersfield man was signed on a one week emergency loan yesterday after number one Tommy Lee injured his ankle in Thursday’s clash.
Paul Gallagher’s curling shot flew straight down Murphy’s throat and Garner was booked for colliding with Evatt in the air moments later.
And Evatt was booked after he leapt above garner and sent the striker clattering to the ground as they continued to battle.
Clucas nearly scored for Chesterfield as he cut through North End’s defence but Johnstone’s legs saved the day as the Leyland lad pulled off a great save to divert the ball over the bar in the 35th minute.
But Beckford opened the scoring in style in the 38th minute. The in-form striker latched on to Garner’s ball before letting in fall across his body and unleashing a fierce right-footed strike that crashed into the back of the net.
Beckford was booked moments later for chopping down Daniel Jones and Chesterfield came close from the subsequent set-piece as it was flicked-on into the unmarked Sam Hird’s path but the ball surprised him and he instinctively nodded straight at Johnstone from just six yards out.
And Chesterfield continued to pepper Sam Johnstone’s goal in first-half stoppage time as another Hird header was cleared off the line by Gallagher.
Evatt’s powerful header flew towards the top corner but Johnstone leapt high to deny the former Blackpool man in the 54th minute.
Garner’s lofted ball allowed Kilkenny to race at the Chesterfield back line. The midfielder spotted Johnson on the overlap and the Aussie booted the ball into his path. The pass appeared to be too heavy but Johnson beat advancing Chesterfield keeper Murphy to the ball on the edge of the box. The keeper tripped Johnson and referee D’Urso pointed to the spot.
With Gallagher off the field North End’s top scorer Garner stepped up to the plate and emphatically fired home to give PNE a 3-0 aggregate lead in the 62nd minute.
Jimmy Ryan’s shot fizzed wide of the left post and Jay O’Shea rattled the woodwork moments later. With North End keeper Johnstone beaten the ball fortunately smacked into the left post before flying away from goal.
Garner fired way wide in the 80th minute and was thwarted in the final minutes by a last ditch defensive tackle.
But on-loan Bolton man Beckford had the final word as he expertly smashed home his 15th goal of the season in the 87th minute.
The North End fans stormed the pitch at the final whistle to celebrate with the players and rejoice in the first ever time they have won two-legs in the play-offs.
PNE: Johnstone, Clarke, Wright, Kilkenny, Beckford, Gallagher (Browne, 52), Garner, Woods (Humphrey, 77), Welsh, Huntington, Johnson (Laird, 71) . Subs not used: Stuckmann, Davies, Hugill, Robinson.
Chesterfield: Murphy, Darikwa, Jones (Ariyibi, 67) Hird, Morsy, Ryan, O’Shea, Roberts (Gardner, 82), Clucas, Evatt, Banks (Gnanduillet, 64). Subs not used: Carter, Humphreys, Raglan, Harrison.
Referee: Andy D’Urso (Essex)
Attendance: 15,641 (away 1628)