Quartet of former Preston North Enders taste Wembley success in League Two play-off final, with two defeated on the other side

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There was a former Preston North End quartet tasting Wembley success over the weekend, as Carlisle United secured promotion from League Two.

The Cumbrian side boast three former PNE players in their ranks and are managed by a former North End boss, Paul Simpson.

Paul Huntington was their captain on the day, with Joe Garner and Jack Armer both also starting the game.

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Carlisle overcame Stockport County in the League Two play-off final after going a goal down after 34 minutes, they managed to grab an equaliser with just six minutes of normal time to go, with nothing to separate the two sides in extra time.

Paul Huntington of Carlisle United celebrates the team's victory and promotion to League OnePaul Huntington of Carlisle United celebrates the team's victory and promotion to League One
Paul Huntington of Carlisle United celebrates the team's victory and promotion to League One

Ryan Rydel missed the only spot-kick of the shoot-out, for County, with Carlisle netting all five of theirs in the pressure moment.

Simpson joined PNE in 2006 after having success with United, reaching the summit of the Championship with the Lilywhites in his first season before sliding down the table and ending the campaign in seventh, missing out on a play-off place, before being sacked after a poor start to the following season.

He has since gone on to have many coaching roles, he was manager of Shrewsbury Town after leaving Deepdale and went on to take charge at Stockport – whom he beat under the arch.

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He was assistant to Steve McClaren at both Derby and Newcastle before taking up the England Under-20s job, winning the Under-20s World Cup.

A return to Carlisle seems to have been the perfect fit so far, his initial short-term deal seeing him lead the side away from 23rd in the League Two table to securing promotion this season.

His side was led by a PNE legend, Huntington, who left the club last summer after a 10-year stay at Deepdale.

He played more than 300 times for the club and won at Wembley with Preston in 2015, in the League One play-off final. He scored on the day and became a consistent figure as North End solidified themselves back in the second tier.

He has now won at Wembley with his hometown team.

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Garner is another PNE legend, leaving in 2016 after firing Preston back into the Championship with player-of-the-season performances.

A North End fan, Garner was imperious as he scored 25 league goals in their 2015 promotion season.

He left for Rangers before returning to the Championship with Ipswich Town and Wigan Athletic, before a time in Greece with APOEL.

Most recently he scored vital goals to help keep Fleetwood Town in League One before now claiming another promotion with Carlisle.

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Another North End fan enjoying his bank holiday weekend was Armer, who came through the ranks at PNE.

A Scotland youth international, the 22-year-old was released in 2021 and snapped up quickly by United, and recently rewarded with a three-year-deal.

Now the trio are set to play League One football, Armer for the first time.

Ryan Croasdale and Ben Hinchliffe, both also former North Enders, were on the losing side for Stockport.

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