Preston take derby honours
Preston cemented their place in the play-offs with a 2-1 win in their Lancashire derby against Burnley.
By Ben Collins
Last Updated: 17/01/09 3:21pm
Preston cemented their place in the play-offs as Neil Mellor's late penalty gave them a 2-1 win in their Lancashire derby against Burnley.
Callum Davidson broke the deadlock with a 53rd-minute penalty after a hard-fought first half at Deepdale.
Burnley substitute Robbie Blake thought he had salvaged a point with an exquisite free-kick in the 77th minute.
But Preston secured the derby bragging rights with five minutes remaining - again from the penalty spot.
Steven Caldwell was penalised for handball, much to the dismay of the visitors, and sub Mellor stepped up to convert the spot-kick with virtually his first touch.
That secured the Lilywhites' sixth successive home win and lifted them four points clear of Burnley into fourth place, ahead of the later kick-offs.
North End have not tasted top-flight football since 1961 but manager Alan Irvine has assembled a side to be reckoned with since swapping his post as Everton assistant boss for the Deepdale hotseat in November 2007.
The hosts deserved victory and their first chance came after just four minutes when captain Paul McKenna swung in a teasing cross from the right flank but defender Sean St Ledger headed over the crossbar.
Two minutes later, the Clarets had another lucky escape when Davidson's long punt upfield set Stephen Elliott clear, and although he looked to have been fouled by Caldwell, referee Paul Taylor ignored claims for a penalty.
With Jon Parkin proving a constant menace to the Burnley backline, Preston kept the pressure on.
Ross Wallace, who last week made his loan move from Sunderland permanent, put in a left-wing cross and Parkin headed straight into Jensen's arms.
Burnley gradually gained a foothold in the game, with 15-goal top scorer Martin Paterson scooping the ball over from close range while Preston keeper Andy Lonergan denied Chris Eagles a stunning goal from a speculative volley.
Preston seized the initiative after the break and were rewarded when Elliott scampered onto Parkin's lay-off before being clumsily halted by Jensen.
Davidson drilled the spot-kick into the bottom right corner and Preston almost doubled their lead immediately.
Wallace was released on the left and turned inside two defenders before clipping the outside of the far post.
Wallace then crossed well from the left and former Burnley midfielder Richard Chaplow arrived to head straight at Jensen from eight yards out.
Burnley began to enjoy more territory and drew level through Blake's sixth goal in 10 derby games against Preston.
The former Birmingham and Leeds forward was fouled by Billy Jones around 25 yards out and strode forward to curl a superb right-footed shot towards the top-left corner and in off the post.
However, Irvine replaced Elliott with Mellor and within a minute the former Liverpool striker was converting his ninth goal of the season.
Caldwell handled the ball while challenging Parkin and Mellor was relieved to see a tame spot-kick creep under the body of Jensen.
Yet Lonergan still had to produce a fine save to deny Paterson late on and secure victory.