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21:11 21st February 2010


Burnley ended their away-day goal drought but not their losing run away from the sanctuary of Turf Moor as they were 'Downed' at Villa Park.

Steven Fletcher's 11th goal of the season ended a three-month barren spell on the road as the Clarets took an early lead against the Carling Cup finalists.

But any hopes of a first away success of the campaign were blown away as Villa struck four times in a disastrous 12-minute spell early in the second half.

Stewart Downing struck twice as the Clarets were caught on the break to undermine all their good work of an impressive first half.

And Emile Heskey and Gabriel Agbonlahor also helped themselves to goals as Villa stepped up their hunt for a Champions League place and left Burnley in the bottom three.

It had all started so well for the Clarets as they took the game to Villa and took a deserved 10th-minute lead.

Boss Brian Laws had given a full debut to Jack Cork and the on-loan Chelsea midfielder played a key part in Burnley's first goal away from home since they scored at West Ham in November.

Cork and David Nugent combined well and when Nugent squared the ball for Fletcher, the leading scorer timed his run perfectly to tap in at the far post.

Steven Fletcher converts David Nugent's cross

Lifted by taking the lead Burnley played some composed football and a neat move ended with Nugent seeing a shot bounce just wide off James Collins.

Chris Eagles also tested the Villa defence on his return to the starting line-up while at the other end Villa's much vaunted attacking force was kept quiet until the 24th-minute when Heskey met an Ashley Young cross with a header which drifted just wide.

The home side was always a threat from set-pieces, though, and that proved the source of their equaliser with 32 minutes gone.

Young's initial free-kick was beaten out by Brian Jensen but that came at the expense of a corner and when that was played short to Young again the winger fired the ball low into the box and a touch off the heel of Danny Fox took it beyond the unsighted Jensen.

The Clarets re-grouped and got to the break level and then started the second half on the front foot with Eagles working space for a cross which was cleared and Kevin McDonald seeing a shot blocked.

But with 56 minutes gone the balance of power shifted as Burnley were caught napping followin g a throw-in.

Agbonlahor burst forward and picked out Young whose pass found Downing in space. The England international still had work to do but with an angled shot beat Jensen and a despairing lunge from Leon Cort on the line to give Villa a 2-1 lead.

Jack Cork battles away on his full debut

And within two minutes that had been extended as Downing struck again. Jensen saved well from Agbonlahor as he raced clear but the ball broke for Downing who got lucky as his shot deflected off the luckless Fox and into the bottom corner.

Villa suddenly had their tails up and the Clarets had no response as they were opened up too easily. Agbonlahor was the creator again with another thrusting run which ended with a low cross converted by Heskey.

And Agbonlahor then got himself on the scoresheet as Villa made it 5-1 after 68 minutes as Heskey and the impressive James Milner carved out the chance which Villa's top scorer accpeted with a side-foot finish.

Villa boss Martin O'Neill left Downing on in pursuit of his hat-trick but gave his other three goalscorers a breather with an FA Cup replay and Wembley date with Manchester United to come.

Emile Heskey gets Villa's fourth

That earned the Clarets a respite and with Laws making his own changes up front it was Burnley who struck last as Martin Paterson came off the bench to reduce the arrears in injury-time.

The striker claimed his first goal of the season and first in the Premier League when he rolled in a cross from the persevering Cork following a neat link-up with Eagles.

Paterson's goal was scant consolation but did limit the damage on the goal difference front.

And with the rest of Burnley's rivals at the bottom end of the table over the weekend the Clarets lost no ground in the scrap for survival and can look forward to the chance of escaping the bottom three with a return to normal service at Turf Moor next Saturday against crisis club Portsmouth.

Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Fox, Cort, Carlisle, Bikey, McDonald (Elliott 64), Cork, Fletcher (Paterson 82), Nugent (Nimani 70), Eagles. Substitutes: Weaver, Duff, Blake, Thompson.

Aston Villa: Friedel, Cuellar, Dunne, Collins, Warnock, A Young (Sidwell 82), Milner, Petrov, Agbonlahor (Carew 72), Heskey (Delfouneso 77), Downing. Substitutes: Guzan, L Young, Delph, Beye.

Referee: Stuart Attwell

Attendance: 38,709

Andre Bikey tussles with Emile Heskey

    Data provided by Press Association