O'Neill shrugs off crowd exchange
O'Neill and Villa's goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh appeared to have words with several spectators as a frustrating 0-0 Premier League draw with West Ham reached its climax. The game ended with around half a dozen stewards in position alongside and at the back of the home dugout but O'Neill was adamant what occurred was "not a big issue". The former Celtic boss tried to laugh off the incident and said: "It was my brother. I told him not to say anything. He was giving me a bit of advice. I shall see him when I get home tonight. "I didn't know about Seamus and I'm not so sure this is really a big issue. It does not concern me. "The issue today was we were unable to score a goal but it was a big effort by my players considering we played in the Carling Cup semi-final only on Thursday. "It is disappointing the win didn't materialise and when you drop points at home it can be considered a missed opportunity. "But I think this result and other ones this weekend involving teams near us in the table highlight how difficult this league is." O'Neill believes the fair play of his skipper Stiliyan Petrov prevented West Ham midfielder Radoslav Kovac from being sent off in the second half for a second bookable offence. O'Neill said: "I think Stiliyan kept Kovac on the pitch by getting up so quickly because it did look a bookable offence. "If he had stayed down, the player would have been sent off so well done to Stiliyan. "Hopefully this idea we have a couple of divers in our team like Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young gets washed away with the rest of the nonsense." West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola revealed his pride at his team's performance in claiming a point which lifts them out of the bottom three. A string of fine saves from England keeper Robert Green helped to keep Villa at bay. Zola said: "It is a good point for us. They had good chances but we did as well. The way we played in the second half deserved a point and I'm proud of my team's performance. "We were up against a team who are in good form and we have important players missing. "It is massive to be out of the bottom three and this result here will also give the players a big boost of confidence." Kovac was substituted soon after his challenge on Petrov by Zola to avoid being red-carded after having already picked up a first-half booking. Zola said: "The referee told our captain (Matthew Upson) the next tackle was going to be a sending-off so we took no chances. "I thought the first booking in any case was harsh because it wasn't a foul but I also have to congratulate Petrov because he is a fair person and a fair player."
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