English Premiership

Villa edge closer to survival

2012-04-10 08:11
Andreas Weimann (File)

Birmingham - Aston Villa inched closer to Premier League survival after a 1-1 draw against Stoke on Monday.

Alex McLeish's side were forced to settle for a point at Villa Park after Robert Huth's second-half header cancelled out a first-half opener from Austria striker Andreas Weimann.

But despite the frustration of Huth's leveller, Villa are now seven points clear of the Premier League relegation zone with only six games remaining.

McLeish had handed a second league start to Weimann in place of former England international Emile Heskey, who had started Villa's draw at Liverpool on Saturday.

And Weimann was quickly into the action as he found Stephen Ireland in space inside the Stoke penalty area, with Stoke defender Marc Wilson alert enough to snuff out the danger.

Villa's first genuine attempt on goal came from James Collins, who rose at the far post to meet an inswinging Barry Bannan corner, but the defender couldn't find a way past Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

McLeish's side were missing seven senior players through illness or injury, but in the first half Stoke rarely troubled goalkeeper Shay Given, who comfortably dealt with a Rory Delap header from Matthew Etherington's cross.

Villa took the lead in the 32nd minute when Weimann exchanged passes with Ireland on the edge of the area before curling a fine long-range strike past Begovic into the top corner.

Gabriel Agbonlahor had a good chance to double Villa's lead after 55 minutes when he raced onto a pass from Bannan, yet the England international shot wastefully across the face of goal.

But, in front of Villa's lowest league crowd of the season, the hosts gradually began to lose their grip on the match and Stoke drew level with 19 minutes left.

Jermaine Pennant was brought down by Craig Gardner and the Stoke winger curled over a teasing delivery for Germany defender Huth to climb above Collins to head home.

Villa youngster Chris Herd was stretchered off with a head injury after lengthy treatment following a clash with Huth and replaced by Heskey.

It was Stoke who went closest to winning when Ryan Shawcross fired home after Huth headed a Pennant corner back across the box, only for referee Mike Dean to rule it out for a foul.

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