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  • Date:2010-03-13
  • Kick-off:15:00
  • Venue:Britannia Stadium
  • Attendance:27598
  • Referee:Friend, K

Live Commentary

90mins

The final whistle goes. Neither side found the inspiration to find a goal against well-organised defences.

90mins

Higginbotham tackles Ashley Young to concede a corner, but Stoke clear. It seems the defences will finish on top today.

90mins

Stoke win their sixth corner of the half as Fuller and Kitson combine well. Huth heads over the bar - perhaps Stoke's best chance.

89mins

Villa have perhaps weathered the late Stoke storm and threaten with a belated spell of possession.

87mins

Milner curls the free-kick narrowly wide.

86mins

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.

85mins

Higginbotham fires wide after Friedel spills a Delap long throw - the pressure is increasing and the defending more frantic.

83mins

A Delap long throw falls to Danny Higginbotham, but his shot is blocked. Villa are so quick at getting bodies in the way.

81mins

Stoke are building some pressure - a Delap long throw is again well dealt with by Villa.

78mins

The defences are still on top at the Britannia Stadium - will there be a moment of inspiration to break the deadlock?

77mins

Gabriel Agbonlahor replaces John Carew.

76mins

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.

75mins

Sorensen claims Ashley Young's delivery and starts a quick break that is ended by a Stiliyan Petrov handball. No booking.

74mins

Downing wins a corner from Huth - will a setpiece bring the breakthrough?

72mins

Fuller has made a good impact - he races down the right flank to cross for Kitson, but Friedel intervenes.

70mins

Fuller wins a corner off Dunne but Etherington's delivery is cleared.

68mins

The match is gradually opening up, but the decisive clear sight of goal is yet to arrive.

65mins

Villa break quickly, Warnock feeding Downing on the left flank, but the winger scuffs wide after cutting in.

62mins

Robert Huth unleashes an impressive 20-yard effort at goal, but Brad Friedel does not have to move to make the save.

60mins

Richard Dunne does well to keep a Downing cross in the Stoke box, but there is no one on hand to attack the chance.

58mins

Stoke are applying some pressure, perhaps a sign that they have a little more ambition to break this stalemate.

57mins

Stephen Warnock sees yellow for a trip on Glenn Whelan.

56mins

Matthew Etherington swings in a corner, but Emile Heskey heads clear - Villa have withstood the Stoke setplay threat well.

54mins

Mamady Sidibe has fared little better than Tuncay - he makes way for Dave Kitson.

53mins

Tony Pulis moves first: Ricardo Fuller replaces Sanli Tuncay.

52mins

Neither manager made a half-time change, but there will surely be some action on the benches soon.

49mins

The second half has started in the same way the first ended - disjointed with little quality on show.

46mins

Tuncay bursts forward onto a long ball but is flagged offside - he has had a frustrating afternoon for the Turkish hitman.

45mins

The second period is underway at the Britannia Stadium.

45mins

The referee ends a poor first half - both teams need to improve after the break.

44mins

Petrov shoots wide from distance.

41mins

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.

39mins

Stoke's threat is steadily reducing, the home side failing to find any sort of rhythym in their passing.

36mins

Stephen Warnock has a chance to shoot from the edge of Stoke's area, but his volley sails well over.

33mins

Villa's midfielders are gradually becoming more prominent, but there is still little fluent passing.

31mins

Villa's third corner of the contest is wasted - a short one by Stewart Downing is returned to him in an offside position.

29mins

The challenges continue to fly in - this match might be short on quality but there is plenty of endeavour and passion on show.

27mins

Thomas Sorensen makes the first real save of the match, getting down well to gather a stinging Stiliyan Petrov drive.

25mins

James Milner hacks down Rory Delap and becomes the third Villa man to be cautioned.

23mins

Richard Dunne trips Sanli Tuncay and goes into the referee's notebook.

21mins

Ashley Young scuffs a corner to the near post asn Stoke clear easily.

19mins

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.

16mins

James Collins gets free to attack the corner, but his flicked header drifts just wide - the first chance of the match.

15mins

Ashley Young wins Villa's first corner via a block from Danny Collins.

12mins

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.

11mins

Carlos Cuellar is booked for a foul on Matthew Etherington.

10mins

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.

9mins

Villa are yet to get going, with Heskey and John Carew spectators in attack.

7mins

Delap's first effort causes some problems, but Villa clear behind for a corner. Emile Heskey heads it clear.

5mins

Stoke are playing into a strong wind in this first half, which might have an effect on Rory Delap's famous long throws.

2mins

Stoke have started with a good tempo in front of a typically raucous home crowd.

0mins

Referee Kevin Friend gets play underway at the Britannia Stadium.

0mins

Stoke's narrow defeat at Villa Park in December was their first in five matches against today's opponents.

0mins

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.

0mins

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.

0mins

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.

Match Preview

Aston Villa must refocus their attention on the Premier League following their various cup forays in recent days when they visit Stoke City on Sunday

The Midlands club are genuine contenders for a top-four finish and a place in next season's Champions League but only if they can make the most of their games in hand.

Villa have played three games less than fellow top-four rivals Liverpool as they haven't been in league action for three weeks but manager Martin O'Neill knows this is crunch time.

Their last league outing on February 21 was a 5-2 rout of Burnley and the English quartet of goalscorers that day - Emile Heskey, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Stewart Downing and Ashley Young - will all be vital figures in the run-in.

O'Neill has a selection headache on his hands up front after John Carew returned to the starting line-up and bagged a hat-trick in last weekend's 4-2 FA Cup win over Reading.

The Norway international scored the winner in a 1-0 success over Stoke at Villa Park earlier in the season but has been forced to play second fiddle to Heskey in recent months.

Elsewhere, Nigel Reo-Coker is the Villains' only injury absence with a long-term ankle problem.

Stoke's season is in danger of petering out as they now have 35 points after the midweek draw at Burnley and are 11 points clear of the bottom three with only ten matches remaining.

Their FA Cup sixth-round exit at Chelsea last weekend ended their hopes of reaching Wembley and they have no chance of claiming a place in Europe.

Nevertheless, most Potters fans would have welcomed this position two years ago when their team was battling to win promotion from the Championship.


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Match Report

Aston Villa dropped two points in their challenge for a Champions League spot, but it could easily have been all three as Martin O'Neill's team survived a late surge by Stoke City before eventually drawing 0-0 at the Britannia Stadium.

Tony Pulis' team went close to sealing victory several times in the closing stages as substitute Ricardo Fuller and defenders Danny Higginbotham and Robert Huth almost broke the stalemate.

Glenn Whelan and Higginbotham returned from injury to boost Stoke's depleted ranks against a Villa side that are unbeaten in the Premier League this year.

The early sparring was low key for a West Midlands derby before Carlos Cuellar's crunching foul on Matthew Etherington earned an 11th-minute yellow card.

Villa also collected further yellow cards for Richard Dunne and James Milner for late tackles on Tuncay and Rory Delap respectively, as an untidy contest continued.

A 25-yard shot by Stiliyan Petrov, pushed wide by Thomas Sorensen, forced the first save of the match in the 27th minute as Villa showed some signs of forcing the pace.

But Stoke, as usual, were proving a tough nut to crack and the spring-heeled Etherington provided a threat on the break as he struck two shots wide of Brad Friedel's goal.

Supporters from both sides greeted the half-time whistle with lukewarm applause, no doubt believing the second half could only be better.

It certainly was and the serious action began in the 48th minute when a fabulous pass by Petrov sent Stewart Downing racing towards the Stoke penalty area.

Downing struck a venomous shot from 20 yards which hit the lurking John Carew and deflected into the side-netting, with the committed Sorensen diving in the opposite direction.

Pulis had seen enough by the 54th minute when he changed his strikeforce, bringing on Fuller and Dave Kitson for Mamady Sidibe and Tuncay.

A clearly unhappy Tuncay shook Fuller's hand before jogging straight to the dressing room, but his replacement had Stoke's first shot on target just a minute later.

Fuller ghosted in from the left flank, evading three Villa defenders along the way, but then scuffed a poor right-foot effort straight into Friedel's arms.

Stoke were now enjoying their best period of the game and Huth warmed Friedel's hands with a powerful strike from 20 yards.

It then needed a tremendous challenge by the impressive James Collins to deflect a Fuller shot over the bar after excellent set-up play by Kitson.

Pulis had expected his players to tire after their Wednesday night game at Burnley, but there was no sign of that as Higginbotham's shot was blocked by Stephen Warnock.

Higginbotham thrashed another effort wide as Stoke went for the win before Villa finally threatened four minutes from time when James Milner's free-kick curled a foot off target.

But Stoke finished the game on the front foot with Dunne deflecting Fuller's shot for a corner which resulted in Huth heading Whelan's delivery narrowly over the top.

Stoke City

Aston Villa

Corners

86

Fouls

68

Goal attempts

Shots off target

75

Offsides

22

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