Sean Gregan’s exclusive PNE column: Flat finish and goodbye to Beckford

Wolverhampton Wanderers' Romain Saiss under pressure from Preston North End's Stevie May
Wolverhampton Wanderers' Romain Saiss under pressure from Preston North End's Stevie May

The last few weeks of Preston’s season have been something of a damp squib after it had looked they might sneak into the play-offs.

A top six place was always going to be a tall order, with PNE very much the outsiders in that pack of clubs.

But since the defeats at Leeds and Huddersfield last month which ended their hopes of making the play-offs, the stuffing has really been knocked out of them.

That is a shame because for quite a while, Simon Grayson’s lads played some good football and lost very few games.

While they didn’t lose much between September and April, what was missing was a couple of runs of wins.

North End could not string together four or five victories, the type of run which can propel you up the table.

As it is, they have finished up in 11th place – the same as last season – and on the same number of points.

I suppose that shows a sense of stability and they have something to build off for next season.

Let’s have it right, the Championship is a very tough division with some clubs splashing huge amounts of cash to try and reach the Premier League or get back in it.

Preston have a budget and their attempts to get to the top flight will be very much a case of putting building blocks in place rather than one big push.

The defeat at Wolves on Sunday was a poor one, with them not really looking like getting anything from it.

To concede with a minute gone wasn’t ideal and it left them chasing the game from then on.

Wolves had something to hold on to and build from, and they did that without too many scares.

We saw the last game in a North End shirt for Jermaine Beckford.

I don’t think it came as too much of a surprise when his release was announced after the Wolves game.

Beckford had very much been on the fringes of the squad after those two red cards in successive games in December.

It would be a shame if he was only remembered for the sendings-off after what he did at Wembley and in the months before that.

He hit top form, scoring plenty of goals as North End pushed for promotion and eventually got there.

That hat-trick at Wembley was superb and I hope him celebrating there is what the fans remember him for.

I was at Leeds when they signed Beckford, taking him from non-league football.

He ended-up doing very well there and got a move to the Premier League on the back of it.

The two sendings-off this season was out of character for the lad I remember.

I’m sure he will get fixed up with a new club before long.

Players come and go, I’m sure Grayson will be busy in the weeks ahead building a squad for next season.