IN recent years the friendly derbies with Coca Cola Championship side Burnley have been close run affairs - but two games in two days took their toll on Accrington Stanley.
Boss John Coleman knew the financial benefits of clashed with Preston and Burnley could not be ignored despite the fact it meant his side would be thoroughly tested in quick succession.
And the fact there was a crowd of 2,580 on Wednesday night made it all worthwhile for the Interlink coffers.
But it did mean Stanley - who have a squad of just 14 as well as a number of triallists - struggled to hit their top form and the Clarets ran out comfortable winners.
Defenders Andy Tretton and Mike Flynn had one of their hardest tests so far against the tall and strong front pairing of Gifton Noel-Williams and Ade Akinbiyi. And winger Wade Elliott gave Chris Butler a torrid time as Clarets boss Steve Cotterill will have been impressed with his new look Burnley side.
But Coleman was pleased his side put on a better second half show and knows the Conference games won't be as tough as that.
"We got the run around in the first half as we felt leggy from Tuesday night but we showed a little bit of character and rolled up our sleeves. It is difficult the way the games have panned out but it was too financially beneficial to turn down.
"Burnley are a good side and are physically strong and we won't come up against anybody as physically strong as that this season. It was good experience for the players."
Coleman again used virtually all his Stanley squad as well as adding a couple of triallists including former Liverpool Academy striker Karl Noone. But it was 1-0 within three minutes when a corner was headed back at the far post by Akinbiyi and skipper John McGreal was there to scramble the ball over the line.
Elliott made number two on 24 minutes by breaking quickly. He found Akinbiyi whose shot hit the post and triallist keeper Peter Collinge from Bury and Graham Branch had the easy task of firing the loose ball into the net.
Stanley could do little up front and it was made worse when Paul Mullin came off just before half-time with a back injury.
There were a few changes for Coleman at half-time and striker Ben Lloyd, son of ex-England cricketer David, made his first appearance as the local league player looks to earn a contract.
And an improved Stanley could have grabbed at least a consolation with Gary Roberts' mazy run almost setting up Steve Jagielka, Mike Flynn heading at Danny Coyne and Lloyd having two great chances.
A Robbie Williams through ball beat the offside trap and found David Brown. He sent Lloyd through but Coyne denied him from close range while, after a poor back header, Lloyd intercepted but headed over the keeper and the bar.
But Burnley always looked the more dangerous with second half keeper Danny Alcock the busiest and they got their third on 64 minutes when Elliott went on one of his runs, beat the Stanley back-line and placed the ball beyond the diving Alcock.