New division and new manager for promoted Preston
Published 10 May 2012 09:30 0 Comments
New Preston Athletic boss David Bingham in his playing days
PRESTON Athletic are back in the top division of East of Scotland football after a dramatic late equaliser on Saturday saw them promoted from the First Division.
Veteran 37-year-old Phil Hobbins was the hero, coming off the bench in Saturday's game at champions Heriot-Watt University to score the goal that took Preston back to the Premier Division a year after their relegation from the top tier.
At 1-0 down and with promotion rivals Gala Fairydean winning 2-1 at home to Ormiston, the Panners looked to be facing another season in the First Division until Hobbins' goal.
The result was a triumph for a resilient Preston squad and their interim coaching team of Iain Houston and Billy Byrne, who had taken charge following the resignation of long-serving manager Stevie Myatt.
And just a day after promotion came the news that East of Scotland side Tynecastle's player-coach and former Dunfermline star David Bingham had taken the manager's job.
Chairman Peter Hillhouse told Courier Sport: "It's a great achievement for us to have got back up at the first attempt. We really should be long up there now. We think the Premier Division is our rightful place.
"There's a sense of relief here that we have been promoted, as we led the league for the best part of the season, but then it seemed to be slipping away a bit when we went on a bad run.
"It's a big credit to the coaches, who re-united the team."
Slip-ups from Gala had meant the Panners needed only a point from their final game to go up.
Preston received an early boost when the home team were reduced to 10 men after just eight minutes but a Mike Webster goal put Preston behind and out of the promotion spots.
They attacked without success before Hobbins fired home from a corner to send Preston up on goal difference.
And now things at Preston look set for the future with the appointment of Bingham as manager.
With a playing CV taking in St Johnstone, Forfar, Dunfermline, Livingston, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Gretna, Queen of the South and Cowdenbeath, the 41-year-old has plenty of experience at the top level.
"He's a keen, ambitious guy," Hillhouse said. "He's had a good spell as a coach at Tynecastle. He knows the league and he knows about football having played at a high level.
"He had shown an interest in the job [before promotion] and was keen to come here."