Birmingham City 2 Burnley 2
With Christmas a time for sharing, the Clarets duly carved up the points with Birmingham in a real winter warmer at St Andrew’s.
But having come from behind to lead with little more than a minute of normal time to go, the joy of giving was lost on Burnley as they were forced to settle for a fourth draw in five games.
Trailing at the break to a Curtis Davies goal, having passed up some early gifts of their own, the Clarets had work to do against a vibrant young City side.
Two goals in as many minutes mid-way through the second half from Danny Ings and a Ross Wallace thunderbolt changed all that and turned the game the Clarets' way as Sean Dyche’s men looked set to secure a first win in a month.
Burnley looked as though they had done enough to propel themselves up the table but with City staring at the prospect of a Blue Christmas they staged a late rally and with the Clarets cracking at the death, Nikola Zigic pounced to level it up.
The return of Michael Duff and Chris McCann from suspension had added further experience to the Clarets’ ranks, while Birmingham – handicapped by the late withdrawal of Peter Lovenkrands – started with seven teenagers in their injury-hit side.
Curtis Davies celebrates the opener
Against such a youthful line-up an early goal would have carried even greater weight and in a barnstorming opening 15 minutes the Clarets should have got one.
Martin Paterson was the central figure but without a goal since Sean Dyche’s first game in charge he was unable to end his barren run.
His first effort, side-footed on the volley from a Kieran Trippier cross, led to a regulation save from young England prospect Jack Butland but that was nothing on the two chances that followed.
Slipped in by a clever through-ball from Ings, Paterson pulled the first one wide with just Butland to beat.
But there was nothing wrong with the second finish after a sublime pass from Wallace again left him on-one with the 19-year-old City keeper who stuck out a hand to make a top-class save.
Chris McCann also put two efforts over the top from presentable opportunities as the Clarets made a stunning start.
Danny Ings levels it up with his first goal of the season
But even at such an early stage there was a nagging fear that the missed opportunities might be costly.
City, with their posse of fleet-footed attacking midfielders in support of the giant Zigic, gradually played with their contention and both McCann and Joseph Mills, starting his first game under Dyche in place of the injured Danny Lafferty, were booked for despairing tackles.
And the second one on winger Rob Hall proved expensive as Burnley only partially cleared the initial free-kick, allowing Hall to cross back in for Davies to head home with half an hour gone.
With the Clarets’ goals having to be chiselled out in recent weeks it wasn’t the scenario the visitors needed going into the break.
But after Michael Duff had failed to convert a far-post chance from a Dean Marney flick-on, they at least remained only one adrift as Grant kept out efforts from Nathan Redmond and the ever-elusive Hall.
Both that pair had caused problems and the theme threatened to continue after the re-start as Redmond cut in to fire across the face of goal.
Ross Wallace looks like he's won it
But the Clarets dug in to stop the flow and after getting a foothold back in the game gathered themselves for a magnificent fightback.
Aggrieved when referee Eddie Ilderton declined to play advantage for a foul on Trippier as Charlie Austin bulleted a header past Butland, Dyche’s men didn’t allow their heads to drop.
And goals in the 66th and 68th minutes were a fitting reward as Ings made his mark.
The tricky forward had eased the pain of his lengthy injury absence with a first start of the season a week ago and added further balm with his first goal since the final day of last term.
Marney created the chance with a flighted cross into the six-yard box but it still needed the quick feet of Ings to make the ball his and then steer a low shot across Butland and into the far corner of the net.
Fired up by his equaliser, Ings then immediately won possession back from the kick-off to earn the free-kick for a bookable foul by Davies which seemingly allowed Wallace to win it in spectacular style.
Wallace’s goals have been scarce since his purple patch of last autumn when he scored in four successive League games.
But this was the worth the wait as from fully 25 yards he curled a text book left-footer into the postage stamp of Butland’s net.
But Nikolas Zigic provides the sting in the tail
It would have been a sweet clincher but with the added experience of Chris Burke and Wade Elliott added to the mix Birmingham refused to give in.
And when Duff failed to intercept a through-ball from Burke as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes, Zigic showed great composure to steer a low shot inside the post and snatch away the Clarets’ early Christmas present.
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Mills, Duff, Shackell, Marney (Vokes 90), McCann, Ings (Bartley 88), Austin, Paterson (Treacy 63), Wallace. Subs: Stanislas, Edgar, Long, Jensen.
Booked: McCann 15, Mills 29
Birmingham: Butland, Hancox, Hall (Elliott 76), Caldwell, Davies, Packwood, Mullins, Morrison (Burhe 71), Zigic, Redmond, Riley. Subs: Ibanez, Hawker, Gomis, Delfouneso, Doyle.
Booked: Morrison 50, Davies 67, Mullins 74
Referee: Eddie Ilderton
Attendance: 17,284 (Burnley 375)