ast Preston Football Club moved a step closer to sealing an immediate return to the Southern Combination League Premier Division on Saturday.
Jared Rance's brace, plus efforts from Hayden Hunter and Stephen Herbert helped EP seal a 4-1 win at Storrington.
The victory now means a win at home against Bexhill United on Saturday will ensure SCFL Division 1 promotion for EP.
After being relegated from the Premier Division last season, boss Bob Paine’s number one goal has been to seal an immediate return.
With just three points now required form their final four matches, Paine wants his side to seal it as quickly as possible.
He said: “It would be great to seal promotion at our final home game of the season on Saturday. We are aware that football does not always give you what you want, so we won’t presume anything and treat it as another three points.
“I’ve always said from day one that promotion was everything this season, now we are one win away.
“What will be, will be but we are so close now and my young squad have put the club in a fantastic position for an immediate return to the Premier Division.”
EP were quick out of the blocks and two goals to the good inside 20 minutes.
Rance cut in from the left, before firing a low strike past Gary Elliott in Storrington’s goal to make it 1-0.
Elliott was equal to a Rance strike after 15 minutes but the forward added a second soon after.
Lukas Franzen-Jones’ free-kick was headed back across goal by Tom Lyne with Rance poking home his 24th goal of the season to double EP’s lead.
East Preston added a third through Hunter three minutes before the break. Dan Huet headed into Hunter’s path, who was on hand to poke home from all of a yard.
Swans had some slight hope 25 minutes from time with Russell Shoebridge bundling home. After a goalmouth scramble, Shoebridge poked past Chris Cook to make it 3-1.
Substitute Stephen Herbert wrapped things up for EP five minutes later with a delightful chip over Elliott from 25 yards.
Going into the clash at Swans’ on the back of a SCFL Division 1 Challenge Cup semi-final defeat last Wednesday, Paine was delighted to see his side’s response.
He added: “The boys once again showed what great character they have.
“Each time this season after a disappointing result, they have bounced back straight away. I felt the display, particularly the first half, was an excellent performance with some fantastic football from start, to finish.”
EAST PRESTON: Cook; Josh Parazo, Lyne, Etherington, Jacob Parazo; Stevenson, Barnes; Franzen-Jones, Rance, Hunter; Huet. Subs: Herbert (Hunter, 45), Gilbertson (Stevenson, 72), Hallett (Franzen-Jones, 79), Smith, Purkis.
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