BURNLEY WIN THRILLER TO GO FOUR CLEAR
By Patrick Goss
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
A wonderful game played with the passion, pace and the errors you would associate with derby clashes, kept a sold-out Deepdale enthralled right up to the final whistle.
A brace from French central defender Arthur Gnohere made him the hero for Burnley - converting the first from a set-piece and grabbing the winner after an hour by slotting home with aplomb after Alan Moore had flicked the ball into his path with a deft back heel.
Preston had come from two behind, cancelling out Gnohere's strike and another from in-form Glen Little, with Paul McKenna capitalising on a mistake from Nik Mikopolous in the Burnley goal to drive home, and Graham Alexander converting from the penalty spot after Graham Branch had felled David Healy.
Few believed that the scintillating pace of the first half could be continued, but the second period proved just as thrilling and provided a winner worthy of taking such a glorious game.
Gnohere picked up the ball on the left-hand side after a foray forward and picked out Alan Moore, continuing his run as he passed it.
Alan Moore watched the powerful run and flicked the ball into his team-mate's path with his instep so that Gnohere could latch on, hold off a challenger and slot home with all the aplomb of a centre forward.
Preston did not give up, and David Healy saw several shots, including an early curler saved well by Mikopolous.
Perhaps the worst miss for the home side came from substitute Steve Basham, brought on early after Richard Cresswell stretched a hamstring, whose first touch was heavy and saw his resultant shot drift embarrassingly wide.
As Preston committed men forward, Burnley threatened on the break and substitute Gareth Taylor was cruelly adjudged to have pushed his marker before chipping Lucas as he looked to put the result out of question.
A truly breathtaking first-half, that was every inch the passionate local derby that neutrals had asked for, saw a hatful of defensive errors, a glaring miss, a truly dreadful officiating decision, a penalty, four goals and two astonishingly accomplished finishes.
After Healy had handed the visitors early scares, and indicated just how weak Graham Branch was defensively on the left, the most unlikely of scorers grabbed the first from a Burnley set-piece.
Gnohere, plundered from the French lower divisions for nothing and already firmly placed amongst the Turf Moor favourites, benefited from awful marking from Colin Murdock to poke home gleefully from close-range.
Preston rallied but an awful kick from keeper David Lucas was compounded by an awful touch by Lee Cartwright and the ball fell for Little.
Little is clearly one of the classiest acts outside The Premiership and his curled finish with the outside of his right foot flew past the hapless Lucas.
Any hopes of carrying the two-goal cushion to half-time were ended within minutes, when Mikopolous flapped at a innocuous looking curled set-piece, and the ball was poked to McKenna who slotted home brilliantly past the defenders on the line.
A farcical decision by the assistant referee, who wrongly indicated that goalkeeper Mikopolous had handled outside of his area, was fortunately met with a yellow rather than red card from the competent referee Roy Pearson and the free-kick was tamely fired over.
But Preston were not to be denied their equaliser and when Healy was again released on the right flank, Branch slid in rashly and the home side were awarded a penalty which Graham Alexander duly converted.
Just when it seemed there was not enough edge to the seat to balance on, Ian Moore missed a glorious opportunity to put Burnley back ahead.
Alan Moore received the ball and produced a marvellous chip that Lucas did amazingly to tip onto the bar.
With the goalkeeper grounded and the goal gaping, Ian Moore ran onto the ball and amazingly headed it straight at the scrambling Lucas, to the amazement of everyone in the stadium.
Burnley are now four points clear in Division One, and, on this showing, have the passion, team-spirit and ability to keep their place and challenge for not only promotion but also for the championship.
If Stan Ternent can provide this kind of entertainment in the top-flight, then The Clarets would be welcome additions to The Premiership.
In the other Division One match of the day, Coventry were humiliated once again on home turf - succumbing to a 2-0 defeat by Watford.
Gianluca Vialli watched his side shine at Highfield Road, as they picked up a fine victory away from their London home.
Stephen Glass was the hero, opening the scoring in the 73rd minute with a penalty and adding his, and his side's second with three minutes left on the clock.
Click here for Division One table.