Grayson wants Wembley hero stay

Date published: Monday 25th May 2015 10:28

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Jermaine Beckford’s sparkling hat-trick sank Swindon 4-0 at Wembley as North End finally made it through the play-offs at the 10th time of asking.

The striker, fittingly wearing the number 10 shirt, was on loan with Preston from Bolton and becomes a free agent this summer.

He reached 20 goals this season despite missing a chunk of the campaign suffering from a type of vertigo, but Grayson now hopes to persuade the 31-year-old to climb the football ladder with him.

“Hopefully this will make the job easier,” said the Preston manager.

“He knows how we work, I know how he works. He’s enjoying his football and when someone enjoys their football you get the best out of them.

“We’ve got a special relationship and at the moment he is producing the goods for us.”

Having lost their previous nine play-off campaigns – the worst record of any club – there were fears Preston would choke on the big day once again.

But they found accommodating opposition in Swindon, who simply rolled over after Beckford opened the scoring with just two minutes on the clock.

To add to Swindon’s misery, their captain Nathan Thompson fell awkwardly under Beckford and had to be carried off on a stretcher – and they were two goals down after 13 minutes when Paul Huntington tapped in from close range.

Beckford all but wrapped up the result before half-time when he curled in a superb effort, and he raced onto strike partner Joe Garner’s through-ball to complete his treble midway through the second half.

Victory also made it a record four-timer for Grayson, who had previously guided Blackpool, Leeds and Huddersfield up from League One.

“Days like this are fantastic for the whole club,” Grayson added. “You are employed to do a job and hopefully you can do it to the best of your ability.

“We always said the record is there to be broken. It didn’t frighten me going into the play-offs and now we have got rid of that hoodoo and we’re on our way to the Championship.”

Swindon’s best chance fell to Michael Smith, who could have pulled them back to 2-1 only to plant a free header wide.

Boss Mark Cooper admitted: “We didn’t deal with Garner and Beckford, plain and simple. If you don’t do that you have a difficult afternoon on your hands.

“If the ball comes in your box and you don’t want to head it you’re in trouble.

“I don’t think it was stage fright, you have to give credit to Preston, they were very, very good. But we’ll be doing a lot of defending in pre-season I think.”

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