Belfast Telegraph

Lambert hails goalscorer Cole

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert praised Joe Cole's performance but rued the one that got away as Burnley fought back to claim a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor.

Cole made his first Premier League start since signing for Villa from West Ham in the summer and it was fitting that he scored the goal in the 38th minute that put the visitors ahead.

It was no more than they deserved, with Cole at the heart of fluid movement involving Gabriel Agbonlahor, Tom Cleverley and Andreas Weimann that should have brought more reward.

The former England midfielder tired in the second half and was substituted in the 67th minute, with Burnley levelling 20 minutes later through Danny Ings' penalty.

Cole, 33, had only featured three times for Villa before Saturday's match having had to bide his time following injury problems.

Lambert, who did not take any questions on his departed assistant manager Roy Keane, said: "The movement was great and I wish I'd had Joe Cole five years earlier, but the problem is I couldn't afford him five years ago.

"He was fantastic, he really was. I knew he would tire but I thought he was outstanding. The great thing about Joe is his enthusiasm for the game, for a guy that's won everything. I think the other guys can take a look at him and try to model themselves on him, that's for sure."

Dean Marney twice saved Burnley early on with blocks from corners while Agbonlahor missed a golden chance when Cole played him through on goal.

Burnley had chances, too, but the game looked to be petering out until Jores Okore felled Lukas Jutkiewicz in the box and Ings smashed in the penalty.

That prompted a late onslaught from the Clarets, with Ings hitting the post and Jutkiewicz also missing a great chance.

"That was a game that got away from us," said Lambert.

"It's the best we've played in a few weeks. I thought we should have been two or three up at half-time and some of the football we played was outstanding.

"When they scored the penalty, it put us on the back foot for the last few minutes and we could have lost it, which would have been an absolute travesty.

"For most of that game I was happy with how we played but the goal we lost was poor."

The away fans gave strong support to their team but Ings' penalty led to loud calls for Lambert's head after a ninth game without a victory left them two points above the relegation zone.

The Scot said: "They pay their money and I've got absolutely no problem with that. The expectancy levels at this club are huge and, when we're not matching those levels, that's normal.

"I do the best I possibly can. It's up to us to find a solution to get this club up there. You have to dust yourself off and go again."

Burnley had been targeting a third successive top-flight win for the first time in nearly 40 years and manager Sean Dyche again hailed the character shown by his side.

He said: "In the end, with the chances we created, you're scratching your head how we didn't win it but, on the balance of the game without the last seven or eight minutes, it was really close.

"They're certainly not a team that are broken, I'm sure of that. There's plenty of energy about them, there's a belief and there's some good players there.

"We recognised that and I thought they came on really strong first half. That was not a surprise to us, we said that to the players.

"Ian Holloway last year said we had a strong chin. It's harder to do that in this division, because you can get punished, but that was on show again today.

"The mentality of the players, the energy, the quality - the mix was right, particularly in the last 10 or 15 minutes.

"It's a great sign of where we're going and what we're hoping to achieve when we come away disappointed at not beating Aston Villa after being 1-0 down."

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