|Mamady Sidibe (Dave Kitson, 54)|
|Sanli Tuncay (Ricardo Fuller, 53)|
|Ashley Young, A|
|John Carew (Gabriel Agbonlahor, 77)|
The final whistle goes. Neither side found the inspiration to find a goal against well-organised defences.
Higginbotham tackles Ashley Young to concede a corner, but Stoke clear. It seems the defences will finish on top today.
Stoke win their sixth corner of the half as Fuller and Kitson combine well. Huth heads over the bar - perhaps Stoke's best chance.
Villa have perhaps weathered the late Stoke storm and threaten with a belated spell of possession.
Milner curls the free-kick narrowly wide.
Petrov finds Milner in an advanced position and a trip on the edge of the area gives Villa a free-kick in an ideal position.
Higginbotham fires wide after Friedel spills a Delap long throw - the pressure is increasing and the defending more frantic.
A Delap long throw falls to Danny Higginbotham, but his shot is blocked. Villa are so quick at getting bodies in the way.
Stoke are building some pressure - a Delap long throw is again well dealt with by Villa.
The defences are still on top at the Britannia Stadium - will there be a moment of inspiration to break the deadlock?
Gabriel Agbonlahor replaces John Carew.
James Collins shows why Villa are so hard to score against - Kitson feeds Fuller in the box, but a last-gasp block by Collins stops a goal-bound shot.
Sorensen claims Ashley Young's delivery and starts a quick break that is ended by a Stiliyan Petrov handball. No booking.
Downing wins a corner from Huth - will a setpiece bring the breakthrough?
Fuller has made a good impact - he races down the right flank to cross for Kitson, but Friedel intervenes.
Fuller wins a corner off Dunne but Etherington's delivery is cleared.
The match is gradually opening up, but the decisive clear sight of goal is yet to arrive.
Villa break quickly, Warnock feeding Downing on the left flank, but the winger scuffs wide after cutting in.
Robert Huth unleashes an impressive 20-yard effort at goal, but Brad Friedel does not have to move to make the save.
Richard Dunne does well to keep a Downing cross in the Stoke box, but there is no one on hand to attack the chance.
Stoke are applying some pressure, perhaps a sign that they have a little more ambition to break this stalemate.
Stephen Warnock sees yellow for a trip on Glenn Whelan.
Matthew Etherington swings in a corner, but Emile Heskey heads clear - Villa have withstood the Stoke setplay threat well.
Mamady Sidibe has fared little better than Tuncay - he makes way for Dave Kitson.
Tony Pulis moves first: Ricardo Fuller replaces Sanli Tuncay.
Neither manager made a half-time change, but there will surely be some action on the benches soon.
The second half has started in the same way the first ended - disjointed with little quality on show.
Tuncay bursts forward onto a long ball but is flagged offside - he has had a frustrating afternoon for the Turkish hitman.
The second period is underway at the Britannia Stadium.
The referee ends a poor first half - both teams need to improve after the break.
Petrov shoots wide from distance.
Both teams are falling back on a direct style of play, but the long passes to target men Heskey, Carew and Sidibe are not finding their mark.
Stoke's threat is steadily reducing, the home side failing to find any sort of rhythym in their passing.
Stephen Warnock has a chance to shoot from the edge of Stoke's area, but his volley sails well over.
Villa's midfielders are gradually becoming more prominent, but there is still little fluent passing.
Villa's third corner of the contest is wasted - a short one by Stewart Downing is returned to him in an offside position.
The challenges continue to fly in - this match might be short on quality but there is plenty of endeavour and passion on show.
Thomas Sorensen makes the first real save of the match, getting down well to gather a stinging Stiliyan Petrov drive.
James Milner hacks down Rory Delap and becomes the third Villa man to be cautioned.
Richard Dunne trips Sanli Tuncay and goes into the referee's notebook.
Ashley Young scuffs a corner to the near post asn Stoke clear easily.
Delap gets another throw into the Villa box - it is partially cleared but Matthew Etherington has a chance to shoot from 20 yards, but he drags his effort wide.
James Collins gets free to attack the corner, but his flicked header drifts just wide - the first chance of the match.
Ashley Young wins Villa's first corner via a block from Danny Collins.
Delap delivers a long throw that is headed behind by James Collins. Glenn Whelan's corner is cleared - Villa have defended well so far, as one might expect - no team have conceded less than Villa this season.
Carlos Cuellar is booked for a foul on Matthew Etherington.
Stephen Warnock gets forward down Villa's left to mount the visitors' first attack, but Carew can't control properly to get a shot in.
Villa are yet to get going, with Heskey and John Carew spectators in attack.
Delap's first effort causes some problems, but Villa clear behind for a corner. Emile Heskey heads it clear.
Stoke are playing into a strong wind in this first half, which might have an effect on Rory Delap's famous long throws.
Stoke have started with a good tempo in front of a typically raucous home crowd.
Referee Kevin Friend gets play underway at the Britannia Stadium.
Stoke's narrow defeat at Villa Park in December was their first in five matches against today's opponents.
Villa will kick-off knowing that Spurs have opened up a seven-point advantage over them in the race for fourth place, but this clash is one of three games in hand for Martin O'Neill's outfit.
Tony Pulis makes two alterations to the team that drew Stoke's last league match, also against Burnley. Glenn Whelan and Danny Higginbotham come in for Liam Lawrence and Andy Wilkinson.
Martin O'Neill makes one change from the team that beat Burnley in Villa's last league match, FA Cup hero John Carew replacing Gabriel Agbonlahor.
So, it looks like Robin van Persie is heading towards the Old Trafford exit door.
History is generally favourable to hosts in big finals.
Its been the lot of so many England players over the years, but today it was Laura Bassett coming to