By Robin Hackett
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Burnley secured their first win since November when they beat Plymouth 4-0.
Burnley secured their first victory since November with an assured 4-0 victory over Plymouth.
Steve Cotterill's men were clear and deserved winners against a Plymouth side that has now recorded just one victory in seven games and conceded seven in their last two.
Plymouth had looked arguably the better side early on, making headway down the left wing with Scott Sinclair, on loan from Chelsea, enjoying plenty of space, but there was little to report in the first 10 minutes.
Burnley's James O'Connor had a decent shot, though, around 10 minutes in, but it went straight into the hands of Luke McCormick in the Plymouth goal.
However, Burnley did get past McCormick a couple of minutes later when a simple set-piece just inside the Plymouth half gave recalled centre-back Michael Duff (13) the chance to head home.
And in the 20th minute they made it 2-0 when on-loan Norwich striker Paul McVeigh kept his composure and rounded the keeper before sliding home into the empty net, having missed a one-on-one minutes before.
With Burnley having scored just once in their previous six games, this was a rampant performance, and Plymouth looked completely bereft of confidence.
They were forced to withdraw Lee Hodges due to injury in the 35th minute, and Burnley piled on the misery when they made it 3-0 through Steve Jones just three minutes later, firing in from the left of the penalty area after the ball had bounced around the area with no-one able to take control.
In the second half, Burnley looked the stronger, but Rory Fallon had Plymouth's best chance of the game when he fired at keeper Brian Jensen from close range, yet the shot was comfortably saved.
Burnley should have had a fourth just afterwards when a cross from the left was met by Paul McVeigh, but the striker miscued and failed to add to his tally.
Plymouth then went close with a deflected free-kick, but any resistance was ended in the 61st minute when right winger Wade Elliot went through to slip the ball into the far corner for 4-0.
A miserable evening was rounded off for Plymouth when striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake put a late penalty wide of the left post.
In Tuesday night's other Championship game, QPR scored three crucial points towards their relegation fight with a 1-0 win over Preston at Loftus Road.
Preston followed their 2-1 defeat to Leeds with another disappointing result that leaves any hopes of securing an automatic promotion place in severe doubt.
The visitors had a great chance to take the lead in the first minute when David Nugent got in-between two centre-halves to meet a cross, hit it first time on volley, but the shot had no power.
But it was QPR who had the better of the early stages, with Dexter Blackstock going particularly close on one occasion when he headed a Michael Mancienne cross just wide of the post.
Preston began to come back into it, though, and forced two impressive saves from Lee Camp in the QPR goal.
But again QPR came back, and when a Gareth Ainsworth shot from the right-hand side of the penalty area was deflected, Marc Nygaard was able to get onto the ball at full stretch, but could not direct it towards the goal from just five yards out.
Ainsworth was at the heart of another chance just before half-time when good work from Lee Cook allowed him into the penalty box, but he cut it back to no-one and the chance was lost.
In the second-half, QPR and Blackstock (51) in particular finally got their reward when the striker controlled the ball with his chest before hitting it on the bounce from well outside the area, sending it fiercely beyond the helpless Andy Lonergan.
A Danny Cullip foul just outside the area proved led to some pushing and shoving, but it could have been much worse for QPR as Michael Ricketts' ensuing free-kick curled agonisingly wide of the left post.
But Nygaard could have made it 2-0 when he took another shot at similar range to Blackstock's goal, but the ball was always rising and sailed just over the bar. Nygaard had another chance not long afterwards, this time with his head, but again he could not make it count.
Preston then began to pile the pressure on, appealing in vain for a penalty after Danny Cullip appeared to handle in the box from substitute Danny Dichio's header, and then forcing a superb Lee Camp save when Dichio again threatened to head his side back into it.
QPR were hanging on against relentless attacks from Preston, who could have levelled matters on a number of occasions, but the best chance came from a home side counter attack, with Jimmy Smith racing down the line to fire the ball in for Blackstock, who made contact and brought a sensational low save from Lonergan at close range.