BRINK AF­TER JOE’S TRE­BLE

Glo­ri­ous Gar­ner de­stroys Swin­don

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Scott Hunt

PRE­STON manager Simon Grayson lav­ished praise on hat-trick hero Joe Gar­ner as his side go into the fi­nal week­end look­ing to seal pro­mo­tion.

Gar­ner struck twice be­fore the break and wrapped up the win as Pre­ston made it 18 games un­beaten.

In do­ing so, League One’s top scorer took his in­di­vid­ual tally to 25 goals.

Swin­don’s au­to­matic pro­mo­tion hopes have now ended while victory for MK Dons means Pre­ston need to win at Colch­ester next week­end to be sure of pro­mo­tion.

Grayson says his team re­main fo­cused on fin­ish­ing the job and be­lieves League One Player of the Year Gar­ner de­serves ev­ery­thing he gets.

“We’ve said for the last three or four games now that our des­tiny is in our own hands,” Grayson said.

“It now boils down to a one-game sit­u­a­tion next week­end but what we’ve done is tes­ta­ment to the play­ers.

“At this stage of the sea­son to be 18 games un­beaten, giv­ing our­selves a chance of pro­mo­tion, is fan­tas­tic and we are fo­cused and determined to do that.

“Joe de­serves ev­ery­thing he gets but he will ac­knowl­edge those he is play­ing along­side.

“It’s a fan­tas­tic in­di­vid­ual per- for­mance from Joe but ob­vi­ously the team ethic is the most im­por­tant thing. Next week­end we want an­other clean sheet and a cou­ple of goals from some­body and we’ve done our job. “Full credit to MK Dons. To have won the games they have speaks vol­umes of them as a club.

“Let’s just hope they’re one point short come next week­end.”

Deep­dale erupted in the sec­ond minute when Gar­ner fired Pre­ston in front. Paul Gal­lagher swept the ball for­ward from the right and Gar­ner looped the ball over Tyrell Belford. He came within inches of dou­bling the lead af­ter 23 min­utes but his strike from 20 yards was just wide.

Swin­don sur­vived huge penalty shouts when Gar­ner went down un­der the chal­lenge of Stephens at the far post.

Pre­ston piled on the pres­sure and Sam Rick­etts had to deny Gar­ner a tap-in at the far post, be­fore Beck­ford had a goal­bound strike cleared away from three yards.

In first-half stop­page time, the pres­sure told and Gar­ner made it 20, nod­ding home Gal­lagher’s free-kick from eight yards.

Gar­ner missed a great chance to make it 3-0 but headed wide from six yards af­ter 50 min­utes fol­low­ing su­perb play down the right by Chris Humphrey.

But he didn’t miss a minute later when Jer­maine Beck­ford’s shot can­noned back off the bar and Gar­ner was on hand to nod into the empty net and wrap up the three points.

Swin­don made a num­ber of changes and fielded a young side, but manager Mark Cooper de­fended his team se­lec­tion, in­sist­ing they were do­ing ev­ery­thing to pre­pare for the play-offs.

“We des­per­ately want the play­offs to come round, but we have to play th­ese games,” Cooper said.

“We played some young boys who have come through our sys­tem and we think a lot of them.

“We con­ceded an early goal, but then I thought we did re­ally well in the first half and dom­i­nated the pos­ses­sion.

“It is about us and how we want to pre­pare for the play-offs, mak­ing sure that the team which plays in the first leg is pre­pared phys­i­cally and men­tally.

“The fans have seen the next gen­er­a­tion of play­ers for Swin­don Town. I’m proud to be their manager to­day. They ac­quit­ted them­selves well in this caul­dron.

“We’re try­ing to do what is best for Swin­don and that is to make sure that the team that plays on May 7 is fresh and ready to go.”

NOSE-DIVE: Swin­don are in trou­ble as Pre­ston’s John Welsh threat­ens

STAR MAN JOE GARNE

R Pre­ston

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