Trevor targets second winner

Trevor Hemmings with the Grant National trophy
Trevor Hemmings with the Grant National trophy
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After his Grand National victory on Saturday, Trevor Hemmings will be looking for Preston to show the same sort of staying power in the League One promotion race as Many Clouds did at Aintree.

It was a proud Hemmings who held his winner’s trophy aloft at Deepdale before the Lilywhites’ clash with Gillingham.

The pep-talk he gave over the tannoy was a rare chance for fans to hear from North End’s owner.

It was light-hearted to begin with, a quip about the destination of the prize money from his three National wins.

“I have to keep winning the Grand National to pay the wages at Preston,” said the 79-year-old.

“I’m pleased to have brought the first trophy home and I wish the boys of Preston all the very best in the remaining games.”

There followed a few words of tribute to Peter Ridsdale, his football advisor.

“I’d rather have him on my team,” Hemmings said as he encouraged a round of applause for the man stood a few yards away from him on the touchline.

Once back in his seat in the Invincibles Pavilion, Hemmings must have thought another winner was about to come home as PNE took a 2-0 lead over the visitors.

However, they were to fall at the final hurdle as the Gills halved the deficit and then scored a 92nd minute equaliser.

A draw snatched from the jaws of victory cut Preston’s lead over MK Dons to three points with four games left.

While North End were being pegged back, over on the Fylde coast MK were busy beating Fleetwood 3-0.

Across the region in Greater Manchester, Swindon won 4-2 at Rochdale to maintain pressure of their own.

Automatic promotion for PNE remains in their own hands but they cannot afford more slip-ups.

If you are to base things on MK taking maximum points, Simon Grayson’s need three wins and a draw to take them to 92 points and clinch second.

That scenario would also prevent Swindon catching them, the Wiltshire side due at Deepdale a week on Saturday.

Had North End clung to the lead against Gillingham, it would have afforded them that extra bit of breathing space.

History does suggest that the club rarely do straight forward when it comes to promotion.

The 1977/78 Third Division promotion hinged on events in Wales as already-promoted Wrexham held Peterborough to a goalless draw.

Getting out of the Fourth Division in 1986/87 was maybe the most straight-forward, John McGrath’s side clinching promotion at Orient with a few games to spare.

There was even a wobble on the way to the title in 1995/96 as they lost two games on the bounce in April.

Promotion in 2000 came on the day Preston were beaten at Cambridge, although they still did it with room to spare.

All eyes now turn to a Friday night in Burslem, Port Vale the first of four massive games.