Burnley yesterday moved four points clear of second-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers at the top of the First Division after a thrilling Lancashire derby ended in their favour at Preston. Burnley are now unbeaten in eight matches, while their neighbours were forced to concede an 11-match stretch without defeat.
Preston had looked the most likely to open the scoring when David Healy had two chances blocked in the first five minutes. But they were stunned when Richard Cresswell, with seven goals in seven games, had to limp off early on. That turned to pain on 16 minutes when Lee Briscoe's sharp free-kick found Arthur Gnohéré, who shook off two defenders to stab in a shot from six yards.
It might have all been over when an error after 24 minutes allowed Glen Little to pounce for his eighth League goal. Lee Cartwright was guilty of a slack pass and Little ran in to curl into the left-hand corner. However, just four minutes later, the midfielder Paul McKenna picked up a loose ball and blasted right into the top of the goal. Preston then pulled level when Graham Branch was adjudged to have impeded Healy in the box. Graham Alexander scored from the spot, but the first-half drama was by no means over.
Alan Moore's chip was tipped on to the bar by the Preston goalkeeper David Lucas, leaving Ian Moore to nod into goal, only to be foiled by Lucas. But Burnley proved they had the edge as Gnohéré teamed up in a one-two with Little and his shot went in at the left post just after the hour. In four minutes of stoppage time, the substitute Gareth Taylor hit the net, but the offside flag had already been raised.
Goals: Gnohéré 17 (1-0); Little 25 (2-0); McKenna 29 (2-1); Alexander pen 41 (2-2); Gnohéré 61 (2-3).
Preston North End: Lucas; Alexander, Lucketti, Murdock, Edwards, Cartwright (Anderson, 82), Gregan, McKenna, Macken, Cresswell (Basham, 15), Healy. Substitutes not used: Keane, Eaton, Lonergan.
Burnley: Michopoulos; West, Cox, Gnohéré, Briscoe, Little (Weller, 84), Ball, Grant, Branch (Taylor, 59), A Moore (Johnrose, 85), I Moore. Substitutes not used: Cennamo, Papadopoulos (gk).
Referee: R Pearson (Peterlee).
Booked: Preston: Alexander, Murdock. Burnley: Briscoe, Michopoulos, Ball, Grant, Taylor.
Man of the match: Gnohéré.
Attendance: 20,370.Reuse content