Burnley buoyant after Briscoe's brisk double

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The Independent Football

Those anticipating a slowdown in Burnley's early season spurt at the top of the Nationwide First Division will have to wait a while longer after their 5-2 thrashing of Walsall opened up a four point gap at the top.

Those anticipating a slowdown in Burnley's early season spurt at the top of the Nationwide First Division will have to wait a while longer after their 5-2 thrashing of Walsall opened up a four point gap at the top.

Not that the Clarets had it all their own way at Turf Moor. Two-nil up at half time, they were rocked by the Saddlers' second-half response and Walsall were level just after the hour. Manager Stan Ternent sent on Lee Briscoe ­ replacing Ian Moore, he was booed by the Burnley faithful ­ and the substitute scored twice in four minutes. Paul Cook put Burnley out of sight.

An almost equally emphatic win for Portsmouth, they beat Crystal Palace 4-2 at Fratton Park, lifted the South Coast side to second. Alessandro Zamperini scrambled in the first in the fifth minute and although Palace were level six minutes when Simon Rodger contrived an equally scrappy goal, a fine Robert Prosinecki free-kick from 25 yards gave Pompey an advantage they never lost. Strikers Mark Burchill and Peter Crouch added further goals, Palace's Tommy Black was sent off for a second yellow card.

"They are such a young team but they are all desperate to play for the shirt and are very eager and enthusiastic," Graham Rix, the Pompey manager, said. "They are learning all the time off the likes of Robert Prosinecki."

Steve Bruce, Palace's boss, had a slightly different view. "You can't defend set-pieces like we did. They scored from two corners, a free-kick and a penalty." Anything else? "I don't usually criticise referees but it felt like we were playing 13 men. We had six bookings and a dubious penalty awarded to them but it was not a dirty game."

Grimsby Town had to thank a series of fine saves from Danny Coyne for their point in the goalless draw with Nottingham Forest at Blundell Park. "It was a great point," the Mariners' manager, Lennie Lawrence, reckoned. "We got completely outplayed in the first half." Injury enforced changes saw them improve. "It was no great tactics by the manager it was just luck. But the second half was a little classic."

The Wolves manager, Dave Jones, persuaded his chairman, Sir Jack Hayward, to unlock the safe again last week and bought Nathan Blake, the Blackburn striker, for £1.5million. He got an immediate return on the investment when Blake crowned his debut with the equaliser in Wolves 2-2 draw at home to Stockport.

"It was a great finish but Nathan needs to get a bit fitter," Jones said. "On another day I'm sure we would have scored more because we do look an exciting side going forward. It was a 2-2 massacre."

Norwich City's 1-1 draw at Rotherham United saw them slip to fifth but West Brom went above Watford when they won 2-1 at Vicarage Road, Scott Dobie scoring twice. The Hornets might have earned a point when Russell Hoult brought down Heidar Helguson in the penalty area, but Hoult saved Marcus Gayle's spot kick.

At the sixth attempt Preston North End won their first match of the season, Millwall going down 1-0 at Deepdale. Iain Anderson got the all-important goal with a diving header in the second minute. Defender Chris Lucketti revealed their new tactics: "We played together as a team for the full 90 minutes." It helps.

At Oakwell, Barnsley beat a stubborn Crewe 2-0 thanks to second-half goals by Dean Gorre and Alex Neil.

There are new leaders in the Second Division. Oldham Athletic's 2-0 home win over of Peterborough United saw them jump from fifth to first and Bristol City leapt from sixth to second after a 3-1 defeat of Colchester United.

The Third Division leaders, Rochdale, could only draw 2-2 at home to Scunthorpe ­ Peter Beagrie's equaliser came from the penalty spot after Rochdale's Lee Todd had handled and been sent off.

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