PNE ready for final day shoot-out

Joe Garner
Joe Garner
  • Preston will secure promotion with victory over Colchester in their final game
  • Manager Simon Grayson is relishing the ‘one-game season’ at the weekend
  • Joe Garner hat-trick ensures North End defeat Swindon at Deepdale on Saturday
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Simon Grayson cannot wait for the ‘one-game season’ on which Preston North End’s automatic promotion hopes hinge.

The Lilywhites will return to the Championship if they beat Colchester United on Sunday, irrespective of what MK Dons do against Yeovil.

Just matching MK’s result would take PNE up, with them having a one-point lead over Karl Robinson’s men.

North End will have 3,000 fans backing them in Essex, the sold-out signs having gone up this morning after the last few tickets were snapped up.

They cemented second place with Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Swindon at Deepdale in front of their highest league crowd of season – 17,621.

Joe Garner netted his third hat-trick of the campaign to sink the Robins, with him now on 26 goals this term.

We are focused and determined to get promoted.

Yesterday, Garner and PNE skipper Tom Clarke were named in the PFA League One team of the year.

Grayson said: “For the last three or four games we have talked about our destiny being in our own hands.

“We cannot affect what happens to other clubs and their results, so all we have done is concentrate on trying to win our matches.

“If we win one more game, we get promoted – it now boils down to a one-game season at the weekend.

“For us to be where we are and what we have done, is testament to our players.

“At this stage of the season to be 18 games unbeaten and to have given ourselves this opportunity of getting promoted, is fantastic.

“We are focused and determined to get promoted.”

North End led from the second minute against Swindon, Garner meeting Paul Gallagher’s perfectly weighted cross to score.

His second came in stoppage-time at the end of the first half when he headed home a Gallagher free-kick.

The striker completed his treble six minutes after the interval, heading home after Jermaine Beckford’s shot had come back off the bar.

Said Grayson: “It was great to see Joe get the hat-trick and I’m sure he will be the first to acknowledge the contribution of the players alongside him.

“Jermaine and Joe are a real handful, while we have a good supply coming from midfield.

“We kept another clean sheet too. It was a fantastic individual performance from Joe and a great team effort.

“We had to play high up the pitch because Swindon have some good footballers.

“Yes, they made some changes to their team but you saw some of their young players who passed and moved the ball well.

“They had the potential to cause us problems so we had to press them hard.

“We had to be disciplined, let them try and play through us and then nick things off them. All round, the players carried out the instructions and did very well.

“We scored our goals at key times, the early one settled us down and the second gave us breathing space. The big one was the third, it gave us the confidence to go and win it.”