Anyone expecting an unforgiving Nationwide First Division derby between Preston North End and Burnley at Deepdale will have been surprised by the Christmas pantomime served up during and after the match.
Ricardo Fuller scored a hat-trick for Preston as they won 5-3, a result which left Stan Ternent, the Burnley manager, "worse than naffed off." He was reported to have resigned after the heavy defeat. But "under no circumstances will I resign from Burnley Football Club. I have never quit in my life and I won't now," he said later. "If they want me to leave, that's a different ball game."
Burnley were every bit as confused on the pitch. Preston led three times but were pegged back on each occasion until Fuller's third goal, and 14th of the season, in the 82nd minute and a David Healy strike two minutes from the end put the match out of Burnley's reach. "We were miles the better side today," Ternent grumbled, "but we have scored three when we should have scored 10 and prevented four, if not five, of theirs. The goalkeeper had a nightmare. We can't go on conceding goals at that rate." Preston move up to seventh.
The need for Wigan Athletic to bolster their attack after the sale of Geoff Horsfield looked less urgent as they beat Crewe Alexandra 3-2 at Gresty Road, Lee McCulloch, Jason De Vos and Jimmy Bullard on target. Wigan are fourth.
The Crystal Palace chairman, Simon Jordan , is about to appoint Iain Dowie as the Eagles' seventh manager in three years and the club's former striker, who resigned as Oldham manager on Friday, will have been encouraged by Palace's convincing 3-0 win under caretaker manager Kit Symons at Reading, managed by the first chief Jordan sacked, Steve Coppell. Andrew Johnson scored at the end of each half as Symons' reign ended with two consecutive wins.
At the Stadium of Light, Sunderland needed a 90th-minute route-one winner by Michael Proctor from Mart Poom's punt to beat the bottom side Wimbledon 2-1. "All I have been wanting is a scrappy win and I have got it," Mick McCarthy, the Sunderland manager, admitted.
Goals by Andy Roberts, direct from a corner kick, Tim Cahill and Peter Sweeney earned a first away win for Millwall under player-manager Dennis Wise, beating Cardiff City 3-1 at Ninian Park. "Maybe I should have played more often," Wise said, "but I wanted to see exactly what I have at the club, although being on the pitch does help because I can use my experience to change things around." All square at 1-1 at half-time, Wise's neat chipped pass set up Cahill's header which made it 2-1 and then John Sweeney controlled a skidding cross and fired in left-footed to wrap up the win. Elsewhere, Ade Akinbiyi scored twice as Stoke City won 3-1 at Watford and Bradford City are lodged in the bottom three after losing 2-0 at home Rotherham.
Plymouth Argyle are the new leaders of the Second Division after Micky Evans scored twice in a comfortable 3-0 disposal of Notts County and Oldham showed no ill effects from Dowie's departure when they beat former leaders Queen's Park Rangers 2-1 at Boundary Park, to exact a measure of revenge on the side who beat them in last season's play-off semi-final. Keith Ryan and Luke Moore scored as Wycombe earned their first win under manager Tony Adams, a 2-0 defeat of Bournemouth, and Peterborough at last won a home League match this season, scoring three in the last 13 minutes to beat Rushden & Diamonds 3-1.
In the Third Division, bottom of the table Carlisle United ended a run of 12 consecutive defeats by beating visitors Torquay United 2-0. Andy Preece, sacked as player-manager by Bury last week, scored Carlisle's first, Paul Arnison added the second.Reuse content