League One Play-Off Final - Ruthless Preston Grab Promotion
Preston secured promotion with a crushing 4-0 defeat of Swindon Town at Wembley.
Jermaine Beckford hit only the third ever hat-trick in play-off finals as Simon Grayson's side ruthlessly dispatched the Robins.
It started off badly for Mark Cooper's Swindon and gradually got worse. Beckford flicked home Paul Gallagher's delightful free-kick, which also saw Swindon defender, Nathan Thompson stretchered off.
The Lilywhites' second goal came when once again Gallagher floated a ball into the box and Paul Huntington breezed through the static Robins' defence and tapped home.
Swindon striker, Michael Smith missed a glorious chance from a pin-point Nathan Byrne cross which could have changed things for Cooper's men. However, a long ball forward, an excellent flick-on from Joe Garner and Beckford curled a lovely effort past Wes Foderingham.
The second half threatened to get worse for Swindon but Beckford missed a one-on-one chance. The former Leeds and Everton striker didn't miss the next opportunity though when Sam Ricketts lost possession in the centre-circle and Beckford raced through to slot home and if wasn't game over prior to half-time, it was then.
Swindon had a couple of efforts which went close in the second-half through Jordan Turnbull and Jonathan Obika, but they were nothing more than token efforts.
Preston managed to secure promotion through the play-offs for the first time in ten attempts and something which had been playing on the club's mind for a while. The Lilywhites had missed out on automatic promotion on the final day with a defeat to Colchester. They cruised through the play-off semi-finals though, defeating Chesterfield 4-0.
Preston boss Grayson was relieved to get through after missing out on the top two spots.
"It is a fantastic feeling after the massive disappointment on missing out on automatic promotion," said Grayson.
"We will enjoy the next few days and then I will get down to work and decide what I need over the summer. We have always had a Plan A and Plan B but we have an owner whose club is debt-free and players who want to stay here.
"We knew how Swindon were going to play, they will hurt you because they are a very good footballing team.
"But we knew we had threats at the top end of the pitch to hurt them as well."
It's back to the drawing board for Cooper and his Swindon side as they try to recover from a season which has promised much, but in the end delivered another season of League One football.
Cooper was frustrated with his side and their handling of Preston's strike-force.
"We didn't with Joe Garner and Jermaine Beckford. If a ball comes into your box and you don't want to head it or compete then you're in trouble.
"You've got to give credit to Preston, they were excellent. We had a lot of possession, but didn't really hurt them.
"Over the course of the season we've been very good and entertained a lot of people."