Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes will have been impressed what he saw as Burnley enjoyed an impressive run out at Deepdale three days before the Clarets’ Europa League tie at Pittodrie.
Burnley return to European competition after 51 years with their second qualifying round first leg against the Dons, and they showed they are in good shape ahead of their first competitive game of the season.
Sean Dyche widely conserved his players, with Tom Heaton playing 45 minutes, and the entire outfield side being replaced shortly after the break, as Burnley claimed a derby win down the M65.
There was much to admire about Burnley’s football in the first half.
They played their way out of defensive situations and onto the front foot with some crisp, one-touch passing, and got in behind Preston time and again.
North End had the first sight of goal as Graham Burke cut in from the right and tested skipper Tom Heaton with a left footer from the edge of the area, before James Tarkowski headed over from Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s corner, won after a glorious ball from Ashley Westwood allowed Matt Lowton to whip in a terrific cross.
The friendly nature of the game went awry when Calum Woods clattered Gudmundsson and was booked, the Iceland wideman thankfully picking himself off the track to continue.
Burnley continued to probe and Jeff Hendrick sent a left foot half volley into the side netting, before the Clarets were denied twice in a matter of seconds as Hendrick stole the ball from Woods and found Westwood, who picked out Sam Vokes, and he had a shot cleared off the line by Paul Huntington, before Aaron Lennon’s follow up was saved by Declan Rudd.
However, against the run of play, North End took the lead as Sean Maguire drove across the area and slipped a pass to Josh Harrop, who squeezed a shot inside the far corner.
The lead only last four minutes as Lennon rifled home after Hendrick’s shot was blocked by Huntington, following a glorious cross from Lowton and Gudmundsson’s pull back.
Preston were largely kept to efforts from distance, as Harrop dragged a shot well wide from 25 yards, and Callum Robinson sent a curler just over, before Burke pulled a shot wide after a driving run from Robinson.
In injury time, Hendrick found the roof of the net with a delightful chip after Lennon’s pullback, and Ben Mee glanced a header just wide from Jack Cork’s centre.
After the break, Burnley had a let off as Maguire turned the ball in after Adam Legzdins spilled a Robinson shot, but the Irishman was offside.
Burke’s shot produced better handling from Legzdins, before the mass changes saw a much younger Burnley side play out the game,
Dan Agyei’s header forced a save from Ali Koiki’s cross, before, at the other end, Maguire forced a save at the near post from Legzdins.
With 19 minutes remaining, Agyei nodded the Clarets in front, steering the ball back the way it came from a Jon Walters centre.
Moments later it was 2-2 as Maguire slipped Robinson in, and he finished off the inside of the post.
Robinson almost added his second, only for Legzdins to beat his shot away, but Dwight McNeil put the Clarets back in front, controlling a Huntington header and finding the corner with a delightful volley.
Andrew Hughes had a volley blocked as North End pushed for a leveller,
Burnley: Heaton (Legzdins 46), Lowton, Cork, Tarkowski, Mee, Gudmundsson, Vokes, Hendrick, Westwood, Ward, Lennon.
54 all off, Taylor, Koiki, Goodridge, Walters, Wells, Bardsley, Long, McNeil, Agyei, Dunne on
Subs not used: Benson, Younger.