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17:06 26th February 2011


Regardless of how long Jack Cork remains a Burnley player, the midfielder is guaranteed his place in claret and blue history following his memorable late derby winner.

With time ticking away on the Clarets' prospects of getting the victory they needed to narrow the gap on the top six - and push their local rivals a step nearer League One - Cork produced a moment of inspiration to haul the play-off places into view.

The on-loan Chelsea man showed all the England class that is likely to see him back in Preston on England under-21 duty next month when with just six minutes to go he flung himself at a cross from Wade Elliott to head home.

Jay Rodriguez levels for the Clarets

Cork's third goal of the season struck as a potentially pivotal moment in the play-off race as the Clarets came from behind thanks to Jay Rodriguez's first-half equaliser to extend their impressive away run with a performance of more guts than guile.

With so much at stake for both sides it was never likely to be pretty. But Cork's moment of magic was a thing of beauty as he sent his popularity and his stock soaring even higher in Burnley's corner of Lancashire.

Following their FA Cup exit at West Ham last Monday night, the Clarets had begun the final lap of their Championship challenge in search of a derby double over their rivals in distress.

Chris Iwelumo, the Clarets' hat-trick hero from their dramatic win in the reverse fixture at Turf Moor, returned to lead the attack as boss Eddie Howe reverted to the side that had been so solid on the road at Watford and Cardiff before taking on water at Upton Park.

And it was a tale of attrition in the opening half hour as the Clarets found Preston predictably stubborn foes.

Well done son!

Sensing the chance to inject some much needed momentum into their survival bid, bolstered by recent impressive results against Queens Park Rangers and Nottingham Forest, North End never allowed Burnley to find their stride.

Snappy in the tackle and quick to close down, the home side fired a couple of early warning shots with Billy Jones and Ian Ashbee firing wide.

However, neither side had managed a clear sight of goal until with 23 minutes gone Preston pounced to go in front.

There appeared to be little imminent danger until Paul Coutts emerged from midfield to pick out a fine pass for Nicholson who dived into a gap in the centre of the Clarets' and steered a first-time shot beyond Lee Grant to claim his third goal in as many games.

The goal might have given North End a platform to go on to claim their first win since mid-December but instead it spurred the Clarets into life and within nine minutes they were level.

Rodriguez will also hope to be involved with England's under-21 squad when they play Iceland at Deepdale and he showed himself to be nicely at home as he added another important goal to his growing tally.

Jack Cork's pops up with the winner

Iwelumo and Eagles created the opening as they combined to part the Preston defence and with just Iain Turner to beat, Rodriguez kept his calm to slide a low shot past the on-loan Everton keeper.

Back on terms, the Clarets played with greater freedom and another combination between Rodriguez and Eagles saw the latter fire wide as Howe's men went into the break in the ascendency.

Rodriguez then sent a deflected volley wide as Burnley looked to turn the screw early in the second half.

But Preston refused to buckle in an increasingly feisty affair that had World Cup final referee Howard Webb talking to both benches to calm things down after Eagles had gone to ground under an Ashbee challenge as he weaved his way into the penalty area.

Eagles always carried a threat and from his cross with just over an hour gone Rodriguez headed wide as Burnley pressed for a winner in front of the sold-out away end.

The visitors could not build up any consistent pressure, though, as Preston rallied with the three points just as desperately needed by them.

With Howe sending on Elliott, Brown countered by livening up North End's attack through the introduction of Iain Hume and Eddie Johnson, although it was the in-form Nicholson who had Preston's best opening as he fired at Grant as the home side broke away with 20 minutes to go.

And celebrates in style

As both sides went for the win the game became increasingly stretched and error-strewn and a mistake from Sean St Ledger almost let in Eagles at the other end.

But just as it looked as though the two sides might cancel each other out and take the single point neither really wanted, Cork popped up with a memorable winning goal.

Involved out the outset after Rodriguez, substitute Charlie Austin and Eagles had kept the ball alive, Cork swept out a superb pass to Elliott.

Patrolling the right flank, the substitute did what he does best by whipping in a delicious cross which the whole-hearted Cork refused to let go to waste, throwing himself bravely into the six-yard box to head home in front of the delirious Clarets' fans.

Burnley then had to see out five minutes of added time - Jones rattling the nerves with one header at Grant - but with the Clarets' back line, which barely put a foot wrong all afternoon, refusing to buckle, Howe's men march on.

Derby delight

Burnley: Grant, Mears, Fox, Carlisle, Duff, Cork, Marney, Wallace (Elliott 70), Iwelumo (Austin 81), Rodriguez, Eagles (Alexander 88). Subs: Bartley, Bikey, Thompson, Jensen.

Preston: Turner, Gray, Morgan, St Ledger, Jones, Coutts (Hume 61), Ashbee, Nicholson, Treacy (Carter 82), Ellington, Clarke (Johnson 70). Subs:Hayes, Parry, Wright, Lonergan.

Booked: Hume 79

Referee: Howard Webb

Attendance: 17,136

    Data provided by Press Association