Paul Cook denied Crystal Palace a club record-equalling eight consecutive League wins last night by scoring the only goal at Turf Moor in a tight game of few chances. The result lifts Burnley to third place in the First Division, which Palace still lead, and brought welcome relief to the Lancashire club's manager, Stan Ternent. His team had picked up just two points in their previous five matches.
The effect on Ternent's Palace counterpart, Steve Bruce, who has been linked to the managerial vacancy at Birmingham, was indiscernible. In his post-match press conference he made it clear he would make no comment at all about his future and would refuse to answer any questions on the subject. His chairman, Simon Jordan, would say only that there had been no approach for his manager.
Bruce was more effusive about the game and his side's recent purple patch. "As a top-of-the-table clash we knew it would be fraught," he said. "Stan changed his formation to 3-5-2 to compete with us man for man and that shows the kind of respect we're getting. We've made huge progress recently and that's encouraging, but we didn't really have the cutting edge tonight."
On the promotion race, he added: "I've said all along that this division is not going to be won by one side running away with it. It's going to come down to clubs carving out results and staying free of injuries."
With Burnley intent on attack from the start, the visitors were pinned in their own half for the first 10 minutes, content to hit on the break. The policy led to the game's first real chance, when David Hopkin and the American international forward, Jovan Kirovski, combined to good effect to set up Julian Gray wide on the left. Although his shot, from 30 yards, was powerful, it flew a few inches too high and rattled off the intersection of the crossbar and right post.
Kirovski had been moved into attack in place of Dougie Freedman, who had flu, while Hopkin was starting his first match after an absence through injury.
Burnley remained composed and their patience paid off after 17 minutes when a long cross, from Lee Briscoe, was inadvertently flicked on by a visiting defender. Cook was on hand to capitalise, lifting a left-footed volley over Matt Clarke.
Palace harried in the second half but could not find penetration, seeing their one real chance, a last-gasp Steve Thomson shot, go wide.
Burnley (3-5-2): Michopoulos; Cox, Gnohere, Davis; Weller, Grant, Ball, Cook (Armstrong, 74), Briscoe; Taylor (Little, 87), I Moore (Payton, 90). Substitutes not used: Cennamo (gk), West.
Crystal Palace (5-3-2): Clarke; Smith (Black, 57), Vickers, Popovic, Mullins, Gray; Riihilahti, Hopkin, Rodger (Thomson, 77); Kirovski, Morrison. Substitutes not used: Kolinko (gk), Austin, Harrison.
Referee: M Clattenburg (Cramlington).Reuse content