Garner dreams of Wembley winner

Date published: Thursday 21st May 2015 12:40

The 27-year-old striker has already had a season he is unlikely to forget after his 25 league goals earned him the League One Player of the Year award.

Has he dreamed of scoring the winning goal in his first appearance at Wembley? “Definitely,” he said.

“To score any goal there would be a nice feeling. Anybody growing up would want to do that for the team they supported. I’m really looking forward to the game.”

If the former Carlisle, Nottingham Forest and Watford forward is to close the campaign in true ‘Roy of the Rovers’ style, Preston must overcome the worst play-off record of any Football League club and win through at the 10th attempt.

Preston have lost out in six previous semi-finals and three finals, but Garner is not the type to shy away from the biggest game of his career.

“You’ve just got to embrace it and look forward to it,” he said.

“It’s not often you get to Wembley for the team you support.

“I’ll go out there confident that I can score goals and hopefully get the team promoted.”

Garner is a rare commodity, not least for being able to conjure up the kind of goal he struck in the first leg of his side’s play-off semi-final against Rotherham last May – his sensational volley was voted goal of the season – but he is a Preston fan born in Blackburn.

“My family had season tickets here and I used to come with my brother and we used to sit in the old town, so it’s basically from that really,” he said.

“My family supported them and I used to go along to games. I went to the Wycombe game (the old Third Division play-off final in 1994) when I think we lost 4-2.

“I travelled down there with my family and watched the game and now to be out there playing, obviously it’s a special occasion for me.”

Preston lost out on automatic promotion to MK Dons on the final day of the regular season when an 82nd-minute goal at Colchester sent them spinning to a 1-0 defeat.

But Simon Grayson’s side dusted themselves down to ease past Chesterfield 4-0 on aggregate in the semi-finals to put that disappointment quickly behind them.

“That’s football isn’t it?” Garner added.

“One minute you’re down, the next you’re up. It’s quite a level playing field here. I think when we win it’s still quite controlled.

“The big game here against Chesterfield was obviously a great feeling after we won, but we know that the job’s not done.

“When we got back in the dressing room we spoke about it. We’re only halfway to where we want to be.”

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