Had Burnley controlled the second half as competently as the first yesterday they would not have needed to sweat out the last few minutes and to be thankful for the skill of their Danish goalkeeper, Brian Jensen.
At this stage in the new term we are simply reading the tea leaves, but here Burnley initially looked a class apart from Palace whose manager, Peter Taylor, admitted: "We were slow. The service to the front men was poor, but in the second half there was a lot better movement." But none of the movement was better than that shown by Jensen. "He drove me mad when I was at Hull, and he did the same today," Taylor said.
Burnley began fully focused on ignoring the ignominy of a midweek Carling Cup defeat by Hartlepool. Palace dithered. After 21 minutesSteve Jones came in on the left, stopped, observed and found Alan Mahon in space on the approach to the penalty area. Mahon carefully guided a side-foot shot past Gabor Kiraly.
Palace were not provoked into much improvement. James Scowcroft did hit the foot of a post with a long shot but that was pure speculation. Palace left the field at half-time to the sounds of discontent. Unlike last season they lacked width, but at the same time they had no one of Mahon's ability to hold the ball or 18-year-old Kyle Lafferty's quick eye for moving out of midfield into attack. So they were fortunate to gain a foothold when, two minutes into the second half, a free-kick from Mark Kennedy was headed high under the crossbar by Leon Cort.
Burnley were not long in recovering, and it was the impressive Lafferty whose tenacity brought them back after a cross from Jones took a deflection. Danny Granville attempted to intercept, but Lafferty turned the ball in.
Burnley should have taken the game beyond Palace's reach when Andy Gray broke clear, but as he moved into the penalty area Danny Butterfield cut across his path to snatch the ball away. That tackle proved crucial, because in the 75th minute a centre from Jobi McAnuff was deftly headed in for an equaliser by Scowcroft. However, Jensen made three outstanding saves to deny Scowcroft, Mark Hudson and Kennedy and Palace a win that would have been out of context.