Emile Heskey came off the bench to score his first goal of the season and rescue a point for Aston Villa in atrocious conditions at Turf Moor.

A swirling wind and incessant rain made play difficult on a horrible afternoon in East Lancashire and it was the hosts who adapted quicker, taking the lead just ten minutes in.

There was a delicious irony about the goal. Villa have scored more set piece goals than any other Premier League team this season while Burnley had only one headed goal to their name. So it was a surprise to see the Clarets’ skipper Steven Caldwell rise to nod Robbie Blake’s superb free-kick over the stranded goalkeeper Brad Friedel for the opener.

Despite the weather both sides did their best to play a positive, pacy brand of attacking football, although for much of the first half Villa were well off the pace and Burnley dominated. Andre Bikey thumped a volley just over the bar and headed badly wide from a corner while Steven Fletcher, revelling in his lone striker role for Burnley, nodded over from Blake’s deep centre, after the diminutive wide man had left Luke Young on his backside with a great turn.

Sidwell shot wide for Villa but chances made by the visiting side were few and far between. Burnley’s goalkeeper Brian Jensen made a near-calamitous judgement when he came off his line to challenge Gabby Agbonlahor outside the corner of the penalty area but Ashley Young shot over with three Clarets defenders back on the line.

Agbonlahor then had the first chance of the second half as Villa responded to having the wind at their backs. Friedel’s long kick evaded the Clarets defence allowing the pacy striker in on goal, but Jensen got the slightest of touches to divert the shot past his post.

Sidwell headed Young’s free kick wide from an unmarked spot at the back post as Villa turned the screw looking for an equaliser. Villa boss Martin O’Neill gave Stewart Downing his Villa debut but it was another change that was to pay off later.

Burnley had chances to put the game away but found Friedel in good form as he sought to make amends for his error for the goal, first blocking Blake’s firm drive and then making a fine save from Steven Fletcher’s rifled left-foot shot from twenty yards.

Richard Dunne, having a difficult afternoon coping with Fletcher after his midweek World Cup heartbreak with Ireland, was lucky not to be sent off midway through the second half as he pulled Fletcher back.

The defender had been booked in the first half for a rash foul on Tyrone Mears but got away his foul on Fletcher as his defensive partner Carlos Cuellar clattered into the former Hibs man moments after Dunne’s shirt-pull. Referee Howard Webb, who was otherwise magnificent with the whistle, chose only to book Cuellar. Mears then floated the free kick narrowly over the bar as Burnley looked for a decisive second.

O’Neill threw on Emile Heskey for Luke Young as he looked to load the box with bodies and the gamble paid off in the last few minutes. Jensen’s weak punch from a corner fell to Milner and the newly-capped England man floated in a beautiful cross for Heskey to clamber above Caldwell to nod home.

A draw was probably the fairest result overall but Burnley will be disappointed to have let two points slip so late in the game. For Villa, a point was enough to move them up to fourth in the table, although there are still worries over their away form, with no wins in their last five games on the road, and their inability to keep teams out, with no clean sheets since September.

For Burnley, the point signified their intention to show the Premier League what they are made of and it is a sign of how far Owen Coyle has taken the club – the Scot celebrated the second year anniversary of taking over the reins during the international break – that the Clarets were disappointed not to win at Turf Moor for the sixth time this season.

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