In a busy weekend of play-off action at Wembley, Preston North End and Southend United were promoted in England. In Scotland, Glasgow Rangers survived a late Hibernian comeback in the second-leg to reach the Scottish Premiership play-off final against Motherwell.
League One play-off final
Preston North End 4 - 0 Swindon Town
Preston defied the apparent 'hoodoo' that hung over them after nine previous losses in play-offs, by providing the display of the weekend at Wembley to gain promotion. They fully justified their pre-match tag as favourites, after finishing a full ten points better off in the league than 4th place Swindon.
The match was effectively over by half-time, as North End swept into a 3-0 lead through goals by Jermaine Beckford (2) and Paul Huntington. On-loan Beckford completed his hat-trick twelve minutes after the break to complete the scoring. It was a perfect opportunity for the former Leeds United and Everton striker to put himself in the 'shop window', having now been released by Bolton Wanderers. Whether he stays with Preston in the Championship will be up to manager Simon Grayson and the owners of the club.
League Two play-off final
Southend United 1 - 1 Wycombe Wanderers (Southend won 7-6 on penalties after extra-time)
There was a dramatic finish to the League Two play-off final, as Southend snatched a late equaliser in extra-time to send the tie into a penalty shoot-out. Wycombe looked to have done enough to clinch victory 5 minutes into extra-time, when Joe Jacobson's pinpoint free-kick hit the crossbar and rebounded into the net off goalkeeper Daniel Bentley's back. However, as the final seconds ticked down, super-sub Joe Pigott popped up to equalise for Phil Brown's side.
In the nerve-jangling lottery of penalties, it proved to be Southend who came out on top as Bentley made crucial saves from Matt Bloomfield and Sam Wood. Even in adversity there was a nice touch at the end of the match, as both Brown and his opposite number Gareth Ainsworth diplomatically shook hands as a mark of respect.
Scottish Premiership play-off semi-final, second leg
Hibernian 1 - 0 Rangers (Rangers won 2-1 on aggregate)
Rangers will meet Motherwell over the two-leg final to determine which club plays in the Scottish Premiership next season, after overcoming Hibernian in their semi-final tie. Leading 2-0 from the first-leg at Ibrox, Stuart McCall's men expected a tough game in the return leg at Easter Road, but were able to frustrate their opposition for the main part. After surviving an early onslaught from the home side, they were less troubled thereafter, albeit still requiring to maintain their defensive discipline on occasions. Seeing their season slipping away, Hibs had all four of their strikers on the pitch by the end.
Hibs finally gave themselves an outside chance with a goal from Jason Cummings four minutes into injury-time, shortly after Paul Hanlon had hit the post. With only two minutes remaining they could not score again though to extend the tie. They will now surely be installed as short-price favourites to gain promotion next season, in addition to the losers of the Motherwell-Rangers play-off final.
McCall will have extra incentive to beat Motherwell, having left the club in November last year. #Football