League One Play-Off Review - Fair's fair as top two reach Wembley
Jermaine Beckford showed his class as Preston reached Wembley and would have been delighted to watch Swindon's defence cut to ribbons in a thrilling play-off win over Sheffield United.
It is perhaps only fair that the two best teams to have finished the League One season in third and fourth place are to contest the end of season play-off final at Wembley.
Preston managed to see off a spirited Chesterfield side over the course of two legs, with the 4-0 aggregate score-line not truly reflecting how close Chesterfield were to being at the showpiece event themselves.
Over the two matches, Chesterfield dominated possession (over 60%), but the problem has been a frequent one all season - failing to make the most of it. The Spireites did not have that cutting edge in the final third and when Preston had opportunities, they took them.
Preston looked strong and with their forward pair of Jermaine Beckford and Joe Garner, they possess a strike-force fit for the Championship. Beckford's clinical finishing in the first leg was the difference and his two goals in the second were of the highest quality.
Simon Grayson's men have a horrible record in the play-offs, having failed to gain promotion nine times in previous campaigns, but this is a big opportunity for them to make it count this time. They failed on the final day of the season to make automatic promotion, having been pipped at the post by MK Dons after losing to Colchester.
The Lilywhites were ruthless against Chesterfield and they have plenty of experience to call upon to gain a leg-up to the Championship after four seasons in the English third tier.
Preston will face Swindon at Wembley who scraped through after a pulsating couple of matches against Sheffield United.
The Robins edged the first leg 2-1 after going a goal down at Bramall Lane. The second tie saw both sides attack with aplomb with defences cut to ribbons.
Swindon took a 3-0 lead with two goals from Ben Gladwin and another from Michael Smith. The Blades came roaring back through an own goal and a header from Chris Basham. Smith then scored from the spot to maintain the Robins two-goal lead, before Steven Davies pulled a goal back for United.
Jon Obika appeared to have settled he tie before the Blades bagged two more through Matty Done and Che Adams to finish the match 5-5.
Many pundits believe that Swindon have played the best football in League One over the course of the season, although some of their defending has been erratic and they will need to be at their best to defeat a Preston side that has arguably the best attack in the division.
Sheffield United fans will view this season with huge disappointment as they were the bookies favourites' to gain automatic promotion and instead will be in League One for a fifth consecutive year.
However, Blades boss Nigel Clough will still feel they have progressed this season and with a couple of shrewd signings in defence, it is feasible to think that next year could be their year.
As for the Spireites, the exodus has already begun with manager Paul Cook leaving to join League Two side Portsmouth, with some players set to follow him out of the door, very few would expect Chesterfield to repeat the season just gone.