What a strange week it has been, none more so than the moments involving Tom Heaton’s sending off at Brighton.
The Sussex side were leading but Clarets were still in with a shout when Heaton went, for reasons unclear.
Were Brighton appealing for a handball outside the box (it wasn’t)? Did Brighton’s striker touch the ball before Heaton caught it again (he’s indicated he did, in which case no offence was committed)? Is picking the ball up twice an offence anyway (I’ll be honest here, I don’t know)?
Online forums have been full of debate, a popular strain being the old “justice done” line of argument from those claiming Heaton should have been red-carded for the first half foul for which he received his first yellow card.
But the referee decided not to do so and produced the yellow. Whether the ref was ruminating on it when he made the second half decision to card Heaton again is in the realms of speculation. Referees know you can’t punish retrospectively.
Whatever, it ensured Burnley wouldn’t get back into the match and also meant a first team outing for Alex Cisak when erstwhile Championship and now League One derby rivals Preston North End arrived to contest the Capital One Cup on Tuesday evening.
The Clarets saw the match through well enough, despite a stronger second half from Preston, though some may have been puzzled by the second minute applause that broke out.
It was in recognition of Gary Parkinson, who served both clubs and who since September 2010, just before the two sides last met at Turf Moor, has been subject to “locked-in syndrome” after suffering a serious stroke.
Parky was usually shirted number two, of course, hence the minute chosen for the applause. Gary and his family have received support and good wishes from his former clubs and it is sure to carry on as he continues a fight which reduces things on the football pitch to lesser concern.
At Wembley in 1994 his goal clinched the Clarets’ play-off win over Stockport, taking them briefly back to what is now Championship level in the Jimmy Mullen era.