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Nic Ladds 16th Jan 2009 - 17:15

Preston to prevail over stuttering Burnley

Owen Coyle will be hoping his Burnley side can recapture some of the form that saw them get to the Carling Cup semi-finals and defy odds of 21/10 to beat Preston.

A month ago, Burnley could do no wrong. They found themselves well in contention for the play-offs and were facing a mouth-watering clash with Tottenham with hope of progressing to the Carling Cup final.

They have since lost their last three league matches including losing to lowly Doncaster and getting drilled 4-1 by Spurs making it unsurprising Preston are 11/10 favourites in the betting with the draw at 21/10.

Alan Irvine will be delighted Preston have home advantage as Deepdale is where they have done most of their winning having won 10 and lost only three there all season.

Last time out, Preston pulled off a stunning 3-1 victory away at Championship leaders Wolves which will have them brimming with confidence. Odds of 18/1 are on offer for the same score line while that result in favour of Burnley is a generous 28/1.

Realistically though this should be an incredibly tight game between two sides hopeful of a play-off berth and home advantage could be the telling factor.

The draw will no doubt prove popular with scores of 1-1 at 5/1 and 2-2 at 12/1 looking plausible.

No goal scorer at 17/2 is unlikely as although evenly matched these two sides tend to produce goals in their matches with over two match goals as 8/11 looking a certainty.

Burnley's woe is added to by the fact that Wade Elliot is out through suspension and top-scorer Martin Paterson is a major doubt but is available at 13/2 to score first should he start.

If he doesn't make the starting line-up the onus will be on the likes of Ade Akinbiyi and Steve Thompson who are 15/2 and 7/1 respectively to bag the first goal of the afternoon.

Star winger Chris Eagles is always one to look out for and he will be need to be at his best for The Clarets to get a positive result and can be backed at 4/1 to score anytime.

Preston have been wildly inconsistent this season but have pulled out some excellent victories like the Wolves' one last week and 1-0 win over Birmingham.

Stephen Elliot has been in excellent form recently, bagging two against Wolves and look appealing at 6/1 to score first with his strike-partner Neil Mellor also at 6/1.

An interesting contender at a huge price is Sean St. Ledger at 33/1 for first goal or 12/1 to score anytime. The defender has scored two in his last three league games and could be a cracking price to get on the score sheet again.

Both teams know that a victory on Saturday would give them a big boost in the play-off chase as just a point separates the two teams and momentum is all-important coming into the second half of the season.

As a result it could be a tight opening with goals coming later on in the match as the teams begin to open up and go for the victory making a double result along the lines of draw half-time/Preston full time at 4/1 look likely with the same result in Burnley's favour at 6/1.

It is a tough match to bet on due to Preston's inconsistency and Burnley's dismal run of form but due to their excellent home form Preston are fancied to edge it.

The Clarets may still be smarting from their battering at White Hart Lane and a home league defeat by Swansea and the doubt over top-scoring Paterson makes it look an even tougher task as PNE continue to march up the table.

Recommendation:
Preston to win - 11/10
Sean St. Ledger to score anytime - 12/1

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