Bry and mighty for PNE

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Ian Bryson will remember for the rest of his days the moment on May 28, 1994, that he launched himself into the air to score a spectacular goal at the old Wembley.

He opened the scoring for Preston in the Third Division play-off final against Wycombe with an overhead kick.

It was a stunning finish and surprised even Bryson himself, the midfielder having never attempted one before.

His moment in the limelight was but a brief one, with North End conceding an equaliser straight from the re-start.

Wycombe went on to win 4-2 but no one can take away from Bryson the brilliance of his goal, which came in front of a crowd of more than 40,000.

“I only tried an overhead once in my career and scored so that’s not a bad record,” Bryson told the Evening Post.

“Why I attempted it, I’m not too sure, but obviously I was glad that I did.

“It made it 1-0 and my family who had come down from Scotland for the game were happy because they had all backed me as first goalscorer!

“Obviously, things didn’t go on to work out how we wanted that afternoon.

“We had hardly finished celebrating my goal when Wycombe equalised.

“Before half-time, we got back into the lead through Paul Raynor but in the second half, Wycombe scored three goals.

“On reflection, Wycombe were the better side that day and too strong for us.

“I’ve got three pictures on the wall at home which showed the different stages of the goal.

“Personally, it was a proud moment for me to score a goal like that.

“The whole build-up to that day was quite surreal.

“We had beaten Torquay in the semi-final second leg, which was the last game played on the plastic at Deepdale.

“That was one of the most amazing games I had ever been involved in. It had excitement, drama, goals, the lot. The atmosphere was incredible.

“On the day of the final, the big thing which a lot of people remember is John Beck changing the team at 2.15pm.

“We had all expected Stuart Hicks to play at centre-half but John chose Jamie Squires.”

Bryson hopes to be back at the re-built Wembley a week on Sunday for PNE’s play-off final clash with Swindon.

He has kept North End close to his heart since his playing days and still lives in Preston.

“I will be going there as a fan to see if North End can do it this time,” said Bryson.

“It would be lovely if they could promoted and I certainly think they have a good chance.

“Obviously, it was all quite disappointing when they didn’t do it automatically. They slipped up with those draws towards the end and then lost the game at Colchester.

“But Preston bounced back well in the semi-final ties against Chesterfield.

“They broke the hoodoo of not having won an away leg in the play-offs. Watching the second leg at Deepdale, I was impressed with how Neil Kilkenny came in to give us a bit more control in midfield.

“The two front lads were also very impressive and I would fancy them to score goals at any level.

“Jermaine Beckford’s goal from just over the halfway line has been widely talked about but I thought his first one was excellent, really impressive.

“To start with, Joe Garner did well to jump and head the ball on.

“Then Beckford had to be strong to hold off the central defender and hit the volley on the turn with the power he did to beat the keeper.

“From a performance point of view, Preston have probably played better in a lot of games than they did in the two play-off semi-finals.

“But they did enough, worked hard and got the reward of a place at Wembley.

“It should be a decent game in the final.

“I watched the second half of Swindon’s second leg against Sheffield United and could not really believe what I was seeing – there were goals flying in all over the place. Swindon look good going forward – they have a lot of pace and flair.

“But their defence looked vulnerable and it will be interesting to see Preston’s front two against them.

“PNE are defensively solid – that has been one of their main strengths this season.

“Hopefully they should have enough ability and guile to get the victory needed.

“The play-off record does cause some anxiety but that is something the players have to deal with – Simon Grayson is aware of the expectation.

“It’s all on the day. If more of our players can play better than Swindon’s players, then we can do it. Hopefully it will be a great day.”