Burnley moved back to the top of the Championship, and two wins from promotion, with victory over local rivals Preston at Deepdale.
Joey Barton’s deflected free-kick wrong-footed North End keeper Chris Kirkland to give Burnley an early lead.
Andre Gray and George Boyd almost added a second goal after the break but both hit the woodwork in quick succession.
Jermaine Beckford nodded Preston’s best chance over as the Clarets, backed by 5,630 fans, made it 21 games unbeaten.
Burnley have not lost in the Championship since a 3-0 defeat at Hull on Boxing Day, but the fine form of Middlesbrough and Brighton has ensured the battle for promotion will go to the wire.
- Relive Burnley’s win over Preston
However, with second-placed Boro playing third-placed Brighton at the Riverside on the final day, Sean Dyche’s side will go up with two more wins.
The Clarets, relegated from the Premier League last season, host Queens Park Rangers on 2 May, followed by a trip to Charlton five days later.
And the signs they will make an immediate return to the top flight look good as they head into the matches on the back of their longest unbeaten run since November 1972.
Defeat for Preston, who were in with an outside chance of a play-off place at the start of April, means Simon Grayson’s men are now winless in five.
Burnley manager Sean Dyche:
“It’s how I want the team to play – that’s almost an advert for it. I used the word clarity a lot and I thought that was on show.
“We talk about automaticity and that’s the ability to do it properly all the time.
“We do it in training so when it’s a game we can deliver and we’re showing good signs.”
Preston North End boss Simon Grayson:
“We’ve got honest lads who will give everything. When you look at Burnley and their recovery runs, they get back into their shape.
“It’s a learning curve and something to look at for future seasons.”