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Stoke City vs Aston Villa
 0 - 0 
Date: 
Mon Dec 26 19:45:00 GMT 2011
Venue: 
Britannia Stadium
Attendance: 
27739
Referee: 
Mark Clattenburg

STOKE CITY were frustrated in their attempt to make it five Barclays Premier League victories in six matches as they were held to a goalless draw by Aston Villa.

Although both sides hit the woodwork, clearcut chances were few and far between, and City had to settle for a point after dominating long periods of the second half.

The closest City got to breaking the deadlock came in the 70th minute when Marc Wilson hit the underside of the bar with firm header from Matthew Etherington's corner.

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But in the end, a point apiece was perhaps a fair reflection of a game which rarely threatened to provide the Boxing Day crowd and the Sky Sports cameras with a Christmas cracker.

Pulis was unable to call upon either record signing Crouch or Republic of Ireland international Whelan, so their places went to Jones and Palacios.

City made a promising enough start as Shawcross launched a long ball forwards which sent Walters on a run down the right hand side, but his attempt to loft the ball goalbound with Guzan off his line, was cleared by the Villa defence for a corner.

Although the first corner delivered by Etherington came to nothing, he was given a chance send over another cross glanced over the bar by the head of Huth.

It was a promising start by the Potters but they were almost caught on the break when Collins dispossessed Walters and released Agbonlahor who was halted in his tracks by Huth's foul as he tried to force his way past City's two central defenders.

That sparked McLeish's side to life and first Shawcross had to read the situation well to cut out the threat posed by Agbonlahor before City's captain then produced another vital interception when N'Zogbia threatened with a burst down the left.

City were somewhat fortunate not to fall behind when Villa won a succession of corners which eventually led to Heskey clipping the outside of the post with a header when he rose to meet an N'Zogbia corner whipped in from the right hand side.

Huth became the first player to be cautioned for a foul on Agbonlahor which seemed a harsh decision by referee Clattenburg with the striker's momentum from a leap for a header appearing to be the reason why he went to the ground.

The big German defender was involved in the action again moments later when City were themselves awarded a free kick which was delivered into the box by Whitehead for Huth to meet with a rising header which flew over the bar.

There was a scare for the Potters when Woodgate tried to turn the ball back to Sorensen and Albrighton almost nipped in before the Danish international managed to clear the danger from the edge of his box by turning it out for a throw-in.

At the other end, Guzan had to equally alert in coming off his line to claim the ball when Walters flicked the ball on to Jones and he got past his marker.

Villa were forced to make a change at the break with Heskey, who had been struggling in the closing stages of the first half, making way for Delfouneso.

After the disappointing first period, there were chances at either end to offer the promise of a better second half, with City threatening in the first instance.

Their main threat was coming down the right hand side where Shotton managed to escape the attention of Warnock send over a deep cross in the direction of Walters, but Cuellar managed to get his head to it first to clear for a corner.

Villa hit back immediately with a swift counter attack in which the pace of Agbonlahor fashioned an opening and it took an excellent reflex save by Sorensen to prevent Delfouneso's near post shot finishing up in the back of the net.

Once again, City gained more ground down the right as Shotton's persistence earned them a corner from which Huth headed Etherington's cross over the bar, but by and large Villa were dealing with the threat from the home side's set pieces.

Pulis made his first tactical change of the game when he brought on Delap to replace Palacios and that was soon followed by Pennant's introduction.

Before the winger could be brought on in place of Woodgate, City had gone their closest to breaking the deadlock as Wilson met Etherington's corner with a firm header which cannoned down off the underside of the bar and hit Agbonlahor on the line.

Although N'Zogbia forced another good save out of Sorensen, it was City who did much of the pressing in search of an opening goal.

A succession of corners pegged back Villa, but they stood firm under the pressure with Dunne and Collins in commanding form at the back.

With time running out, City went close again when Delap's long throw-in hurled with a flat trajectory skidded off the head of Petrov and flashed across goal but past the far post.

Coral

Marc Wilson. ACTION IMAGES
Stoke City had to settle for a point as their Boxing Day clash with Aston Villa ended in a goalless draw.
 Match Information
 
  Stoke Aston Villa
Goals : 0 0
Possession : 49% 51%
Shots On Target : 2 4
Shots Off Target : 5 6
Corners : 7 7
Fouls : 13 10
Most Fouls : Palacios (3) N'Zogbia (3)
Yellow Cards : 3 0
Red Cards : 0 0
 
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