Date: 20th February 2011 at 11:09am
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It`s the Lancashire derby on Saturday with the Clarets travelling to Deepdale to play struggling, bottom club, Preston North End. If we beat them we will have clocked up our third double of the season after earlier beating them at Turf Moor back in September. That game was played on Saturday 11th September 2010 in front of a crowd of 15,509. About 1000 Preston fans that day would return home empty handed and must have been kicking themselves after totally dominating the game in the first half and leading 3-1 with just six minutes to play!

Three goals in the last six minutes of normal time gave Burnley a remarkable 4-3 victory. A hat-trick from Chris Iwelumo and a final winning header from Jay Rodriguez in the end sent Clarets fans home deliriously happy but at 3-1 down with 20 minutes to go it could have been such a different story.

There was no doubt that a turning-point in this game was the sending-off of Preston right back, Billy Jones with just twelve minutes to go and with the Clarets already 3-1 down and looking down and out. Already on a yellow card, Jones delayed taking a throw in for far too long despite, Kevin Friend the referee telling him to get a move on. The frustrated referee had no option but to show him a yellow card for time wasting closely followed by a red one for the second bookable offence. With Preston now down to ten men this seemed to be the boost that the Clarets needed and suddenly we went on the rampage having looked woeful and totally outclassed for virtually the first 80 minutes of this game.

Brian Laws had selected a fairly predictable starting eleven and subs bench for this match. With Tyrone Mears sitting out a one-match automatic ban after being sent off against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium before an International break, David Edgar was given the nod and he lined up at right back. There had been some doubt too that Chris Iwelumo would be fit enough to play having picked up a hamstring injury late on in the Swansea game. He had missed the two Euro 2012 qualifying matches for Scotland during the International break but thankfully had recovered in time to play for the Clarets against Preston. Michael Duff had also recovered from his calf injury but had to be content with a place on the bench. Brian Jensen, in goal was making his 250th appearance for the Clarets as we lined-up as follows:

Jensen, Edgar, Bikey, Carlisle, Fox, Alexander, Wallace, Elliott, Marney, Paterson, Iwelumo

Subs: Grant, Duff, Cort, Cork, Eagles, Thompson, Rodriguez

On a sunny but windswept and showery day, the match got underway in front of what could only be described as a disappointing crowd for such an important derby game. True this was a late kick-off because the match was televised live on BBC2, but even so only 15,509 bothered to turn up and unoccupied seats could be seen in all areas of the ground. Preston`s following in particular was pretty pathetic and could be a sign of the times with the club struggling at the wrong end of the table. After many seasons of being there or there about for a play-offs spot, they finished 17th the previous season, a very poor one by their standards not helped either by their indifferent start to 2010-11.

Burnley on the other hand experienced the dizzy heights of the Premier League last season of course and rarely had crowds below 20,000. The drop back down to the Championship also seemed to have affected our enthusiasm and some of the fair-weather fans appeared to be staying away this season which was a shame albeit predictably expected. Their loss though considering the final outcome of this match!

It was the Clarets who looked the more nervous though at the start of this game with Preston looking the most likely to open the scoring. This was despite the fact that Preston had yet to score away from home this season, let alone get a point. In the early stages, Jensen had to save well from Keith Treacy before Fox blocked an attempt from Manchester United loan Josh King.

Very much against the run of play though it was the Clarets who took the lead on nine minutes when Chris Iwelumo headed home following a corner from the left by former Preston winger, Ross Wallace. It wasn`t clear at first if the ball had crossed the line but the officials seemed to be in no doubt so the goal was awarded. Treacy seemed to fluff his clearance attempt with the ball hitting Preston keeper, Lonergan who appeared to knock the ball away to safety. BBC 2 slow-motion though clearly showed the ball was well over the line and that the officials were spot on. 1-0 Clarets!

If the Officials got that one right they failed however to spot the handball that led to Preston`s equaliser on 23 minutes. A long punt by Lonergan into the heart of the Burnley defence caused havoc and panic. Jon Parkin knocked the ball down to Adam Barton but the referee failed to spot that Barton had helped the ball on with the aid of his hand. Clear on goal he let rip with a shot that beat Jensen to make the score 1-1.

Nine minutes later and Clarets fans hearts sank as Preston took the lead. Treacy had earlier clipped the bar and now the former Blackburn Rovers player would rub salt into the wounds by thumping in a low angled-shot into the far corner of the net to put the visitors ahead for the first time.

Things threatened to boil over just before half time after an incident between Elliott and Jones. With both players having a go at each other a melee ensued with virtually all the players on both sides threatening to get involved after rushing over. The referee stepped in to try and calm things down before eventually booking both protagonists. The yellow card would prove far more costly for Jones but for the moment that was it and the Clarets went in at half-time 2-1 down.

It was clear based on the first half that our tactics were simply not working. We seemed to lack width and Paterson in particular was having a ‘bad day at the office` out wide with nobody really supporting Iwelumo as our lone striker. Iwelumo had done virtually nothing since scoring the opening goal and it was clear he needed a partner upfront as events would later prove.

Despite the obvious problems based on our first half performance, it was perhaps surprising we came out for the second half without making any changes to the team or formation.

The Clarets though to be fair showed early promise at the start of the second half and Lonergan had to turn away a thunderous shot from Dean Marney as Burnley desperately sought the equaliser. About the hour mark, Laws decided it was time for Plan B. He made a double substitution with Chris Eagles and Jack Cork coming on to replace Paterson and Marney. On 67 minutes it was time for another change with Laws now trying to add to our fire power up front by bringing on Jay Rodriguez to partner Chris Iwelumo up front. A defender though had to be sacrificed to make the change and it was David Edgar who drew the short straw. It was perhaps surprising though that Wade Elliott dropped back into the right back spot. He had looked arguably one of the more impressive midfielders and the one most likely to set up a chance.

On the break, though the Clarets fell further behind on 70 minutes and it was Elliott who perhaps should have done better after finding himself out of position. Treacy got in a left footed cross to find Jon Parkin who expertly let rip with a side-footed volley that gave Jensen no chance. 3-1 Preston and now the game looked truly over for the Clarets but little did we know at this stage what fate would deliver.

Burnley stepped on the throttle a little bit after the goal but it all looked a bit forlorn. Jack Cork thumped the ball just over the top before Eagles went on a run and delivered a superb cross only for the Chelsea loan midfielder to see his header blocked by the arm of Jones amidst claims for a penalty. Jones luck though was about to run out after being booked a second time, this time for time wasting from a throw-in after 78 minutes. The red card decision incensed Preston manager, Darren Ferguson but it was just the tonic the Clarets needed with the impossible about to happen.

With the Clarets now in overdrive, Lonergan first had to contend with a low shot from Rodriguez which he managed to save at full stretch. He had no chance though with Iwelumo`s stunning shot after 84 minutes which reduced the arrears to 3-2. Iwelumo picked up a pass from Alexander and volleyed sweetly into the net from the edge of the area to give all Clarets fans the faintest of hopes.

Sensationally the Clarets drew level four minutes later and again it was an Alexander-Iwelumo double act. This time Iwelumo rose to get in a glancing header from Alexander`s cross with the ball flying into the far corner of the net to make it remarkably all square but there was still more to come!

A shell-shocked Preston fell apart 60 seconds later as Burnley completed a remarkable comeback to take all three-points. As the ball came over from a Wallace corner, there was Jay Rodriguez virtually unmarked to head home and complete a miserable day all round for Preston fans. All they could do was head back down the M65 completely heartbroken after seeing their team snatch defeat from certain victory. They also probably heard two chants generously given to them by delighted Clarets fans ringing in their ears- ‘3-1 and you ****** it up ‘along with ‘Wallace, Wallace what`s the score` the latter a chant the Preston fans tried to inflict on us with the score at 3-1 only to be given it back at 4-3!

Before this season, the last time we played Preston was during our promotion season of 2008-9. Both clubs found themselves getting into the play-offs that season but there was only one winner of course in that battle. We managed to avoid facing Preston in the play-offs stages though since they failed to get past our Wembley opponents, Sheffield United in the play-offs semi-finals. Preston finished 6th that year with the Clarets in 5th with the honours even in the two league games. Preston went away empty handed from Turf Moor in September 2008 after Owen Coyle`s Burnley inflicted a convincing 3-1 defeat on the Lilywhites. Burnley though could not complete the double over them at Deepdale in the rematch played in January 2009. In a disappointing game, the Clarets lost 2-1.

The game at Turf Moor that season was played on Saturday 27th September 2008 in front of a crowd of 16,276 fans. The Clarets had received some bad news earlier in the week after Russell Anderson; our season-long loan defender from Sunderland had been stretchered off against Fulham on the previous Tuesday night in a cup game. It was confirmed later, he would now be out for the whole season with cruciate ligament damage. Kevin McDonald and Ade Akinbiyi were also still sidelined with injuries. Chris Eagles perhaps surprisingly had to be content with a place on the bench but Steve Thompson returned after being cup-tied on the Tuesday night

The Clarets therefore lined up as follows:

Jensen, Duff, Caldwell, Carlisle, Jordan, Alexander, Elliott, Gudjonsson, McCann, Paterson, Thompson

Subs: Penny, Blake, Eagles, Mahon, Rodriguez

It didn`t start well for the Clarets though with Alan Irvine’s men taking the lead in the first half when Barry Nicholson scored with a right-foot volley from 10 yards out after 22 minutes. However a stunning 35 yard drive from Gudjonsson 11 minutes later to score the equaliser had the Clarets fans wild with jubilation.

In the second half, Caldwell made it 2-1 with a close range shot before Preston were reduced to 10 men after Callum Davidson was sent off for deliberate handball on 70 minutes. Preston to their credit still seemed to be causing a few anxious moments and the announcement of four minutes of injury time did not steady any jitters the Clarets fans may have had no doubt recalling a Swansea equaliser in the previous match a week ago.

However, we need not have worried after a superb pass by McCann on the break in the dying seconds found Eagles in acres of space heading towards goal. He made no mistake with his shot to give the Clarets the perfect 3-1 victory over our local rivals avenging to some degree our defeat at Turf Moor the previous season and the double over us that we had to suffer.

The return match at Deepdale though would bring little cheer for Clarets fans. It was played on Saturday 17th January 2009 in front of 15,692 fans.

Clarets fans had been buoyed up for the start of the Preston game too with the good news that both Paterson and McCann had made the starting eleven after they had picked up knocks in the previous game against QPR in the FA Cup 3rd round replay. Michael Duff also returned after an automatic one match suspension following his sending off against Swansea thus allowing Coyle to use Alexander in the holding midfield role. Robbie Blake found himself on the bench though with Thompson preferred up front partnering Paterson.

The Clarets therefore lined up as follows:

Jensen, Duff, Caldwell, Carlisle, Jordan, Alexander, Eagles, Gudjonsson, McCann, Thompson,, Paterson.

Subs: Penny, Mahon, MacDonald, Blake, Rodriguez

The omens though did not look good, Burnley were suffering their traditional festive and early New Year slump and before the Preston game were on a bad run with no win in three games, not even a point!

We lost 2-1 in the end but looked by far the better team and simply did not get the luck when it mattered. Twice against the run of play and at critical moments in the game, Preston were awarded controversial penalties. Their second penalty which gave them a 2-1 lead was very harsh indeed after it was alleged that Caldwell handled the ball in the area. Quite clearly and in front of the cameras, it was an accidental handball with the ball hitting his already outstretched arm.

Preston looked the liveliest in the early stages of the first half with the Clarets gradually coming into the game after the Lilywhites look frustrated at not being able to get the breakthrough. By the end of the first half, it was the Clarets enjoying most of the possession and Owen Coyle would have been the happier of the two managers at half-time with the score at 0-0.

Calum Davidson though scored a penalty seven minutes into the second half just as the Clarets looked the most likely to score.

This first penalty was given after Jensen was alleged to have brought down Stephen Elliott. It didn`t look a malicious foul if indeed it was, but Jensen realised he had made a mistake diving at the player and couldn`t stop his momentum. Elliott would probably not have got to the ball either and may well have dived after realising that but ces`t la vie!

All credit to the Clarets though they soaked up some initial pressure as Preston sought to extend their lead and then came storming back looking for the equaliser.

Coyle also freshened up the pack replacing Gudjonsson with Blake on 66 minutes and then Rodriguez for Thompson 10 minutes later. Burnley were then awarded a free-kick and Blake curled in a stunning 30-yard free-kick to equalise in the 77th minute.

The Clarets were now looking for the winner and time and time again put the Lilywhites under pressure but with five minutes to go and totally against the run of play again another even more awful penalty decision scuppered our chances to give Preston all three points.

Owen Coyle summed up the defeat well by saying after the derby game:

‘I thought my players were magnificent. The first penalty was a soft one but the second one was beyond belief. All credit to Preston but they had two major decisions go their way. I feel for our players and our supporters – we’ve been badly short-changed.’

You can read more about both these games by visiting our Match Archive and clicking these links:

Sweet Victory in Local Derby

Woe is Burnley after Deepdale Penalty Farce

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