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Grayson and Garner the keys to ending Preston’s play-off woe

| 23.05.2015

No side in England has participated in the play-offs more frequently than Preston North End and, unfortunately for Lilywhites fans, no team has been less successful.

In their nine previous attempts to gain promotion via the end-of-season shootout, Preston have come up short…nine times.

It would be brutal to see Simon Grayson’s side fail again, especially as they finished just two points off the automatic promotion spots and 10 points clear of fourth in League One.

Preston are comfortable 6/5 favourites to beat Swindon in the League One play-off final, with the Robins priced at 12/5, tempting odds given the former’s unhappy history.

However, the hex is set to be exorcised this year, as the Lilywhites have League One promotion king Grayson at the tiller.

The former Leeds boss has overseen advancement from England’s third tier four times in his career, more than any other manager, and has won the division’s play-offs twice.

The former Leeds manager failed at his first attempt in the play-offs with Preston last season, but has a far better side at his disposal this time around, led by the best strike-force in the league.

League One top scorer Joe Garner has bagged 26 goals already, inducing three against Swindon in Preston’s 3-0 win in April.

His strike partner Jermaine Beckford has netted 12 in his last 17, and between them the pair have scored each of Preston’s last 11 goals.

Garner is 7/4 to score at any time in the final, while Beckford is a very tempting 2/1, considering he bagged three in the two-legged semi-final against Chesterfield.

The Lilywhites won both legs of that semi-final, extending an impressive run of form that has seen them lose just twice since the start of February, winning 15 of the 23 matches played.

In contrast, Swindon’s 2-1 win in the first-leg of their semi-final against Sheffield United is the only victory in their last seven games, and the 5-5 draw in the second-leg doesn’t bode well for their defence against Garner and Beckford.

The jinx will continue to worry Preston fans, but they are the better side in better form with a manager well-accustomed to League One success. Grab the 6/5 they beat Swindon with both hands.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Alex Fortune