English Premiership

Villa held by Birmingham

2010-10-31 17:08
Ashley Young (AP)

London - Aston Villa and Birmingham fought out a 0-0 draw as the latest instalment of their fierce local rivalry ended in stalemate at Villa Park on Sunday.

England winger Ashley Young saw a shot hit the woodwork in the closing minutes before Birmingham's towering striker Nikola Zigic sent a glancing header just wide in injury time.

The result left the midlands rivals in the same positions in the Premier League standings, Villa in 12th spot with 12 points from 10 matches, Birmingham one point behind in 13th place.

A goal-less first-half saw Birmingham finish the stronger, with Alex Hleb and Craig Gardner gradually starting to cause problems for Villa from midfield after the home side started brightly.

The major talking point came when Birmingham had strong appeals for a penalty turned down after a bouncing ball struck Nigel Reo-Coker's arm in full view of World Cup final referee Howard Webb.

Birmingham had carved out the first half chance, Craig Gardner rifling in a shot from inside the box which Villa defender James Collins blocked.

Villa had threatened sporadically, Young just failing to pick out Emile Heskey with a low pass into the box which was gathered safely by Birmingham goalkeeper Ben Foster.

Gardner meanwhile was the first player to find his way into Webb's notebook, receiving a caution after only 12 minutes for a clumsy lunge on Reo-Coker.

Zigic was the next to see yellow, booked on 39 minutes for throwing an arm into the face of Collins.

Villa defender Stephen Warnock received the third yellow card of the opening 45 minutes on the stroke of half-time, sliding in recklessly on Hleb.

The second half followed the same pattern as the first, both sides swapping low shots from distance but largely cancelling each other out in midfield.

Gardner saw a low shot easily held by Brad Friedel before Reo-Coker's 20-yard effort was blocked by Foster.

Reo-Coker was booked midway through the half after clashing with Gardner and Barry Ferguson shortly before Villa substitute Barry Bannan saw a curling shot pawed away by Foster.

With the clock running down, Villa pressed hard for a winner and could have snatched all three points when Young breezed past Liam Ridgewell before sending a shot crashing against the angle of the post and cross bar.

Zigic also had a chance for Birmingham in the closing moments, but just failed to get enough on his header from a teasing free-kick Sebastian Larsson.

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