WELL if you can’t beat ‘em, then a last gasp equaliser from a substitute is almost certainly the next best thing.

Sam Vokes has essentially been a bit-part player under Sean Dyche, thrown on for the last 15-20 minutes to retain possession higher up the pitch and take some pressure off a besieged defence late in the game.

But his headed goal which cancelled out Jordan Rhodes’ earlier opener was the most rapturously received since Robbie Blake’s breathtaking first-time volley against Manchester United got Burnley up and running in the Premier League in August 2009.

Parity was the least the Clarets deserved, particularly after dominating an opening 45 minutes during which Henning Berg’s men rarely journeyed beyond halfway as Burnley attacked with flair and invention.

And had there been a lesser keeper between the sticks than the fading but still occasionally excellent Paul Robinson, the game may well have been decided by 1.15pm.

Charlie Austin, Martin Paterson and Dean Marney were all thwarted by the former England custodian and Dyche’s charges were almost made to pay until Vokes wrote himself into Burnley folklore.

But as the pleasingly warming early-winter sun began to dull and both sets of supporters left the stadium and wandered into a post-Orwellian police state around Turf Moor’s surrounding streets, there was no doubt which bunch of east Lancastrians were the happier.

Recent meetings between the two clubs have always seen the Clarets cast in the role of underdog: not any more.

Sunday provided conclusive evidence that the gap between these two founder members of the Football League has all but closed.

The passing of Jack Walker, Venky’s arrival on the scene and Rovers’ relegation under Steve Kean’s stewardship last term have all been contributory factors.

Change is afoot. Last Sunday, Burnley were something they haven’t been in a game against Blackburn for over a generation: they were Rovers’ equals.

And whilst the 33-year itch remains unscratched, those of a claret and blue persuasion can take great heart from the fact that neither that record, nor their nearest and not-so-dearest, look nearly as intimidating as they once did.

Those in blue and white? Well they won’t say it of course, but they know the game’s up.