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Aston Villa 0 Fulham 0 match report

last updated Saturday 25th March 2006, 7:46 PM
Fulham Man of the Match Steed Malbranque
Fulham Man of the Match Steed Malbranque

Fulham collected their first Premiership point away from Craven Cottage for nearly three months to increase the pressure on Aston Villa boss David O'Leary.

Chris Coleman's side managed to avoid defeat on their travels for the first time since the goalless draw with West Brom on December 3 although a first win of the season still eludes them.

But the final whistle was greeted with boos by the home supporters who have become fed-up with their side's dismal record at Villa Park - just four victories in 2005-2006.

Villa fans had chanted 'O'Leary out' after the 4-1 mauling at Everton the previous weekend had left Villa perched in the bottom six.

There were only small and isolated pockets of protest on this occasion during the 90 minutes against the former Leeds boss who had called for supporters to get fully behind his young side.

But one banner simply said 'O'Leary out' while another on the upper tier of the Holte End read 'We are not fickle, we just don't like you.'

There was at least some purpose about Villa in the opening 45 minutes with Kevin Phillips looking sharp and Gavin McCann impressive in midfield but the confidence seemed to drain out of the team in the second period as the fans became more agitated.

Fulham will take great heart from keeping a clean sheet after conceding 34 goals away away from Craven Cottage.

And in the second half they had the better chances with the impressive Steed Malbranque testing Thomas Sorensen on several occasions.

Fulham appealed for an early penalty when a corner from Mark Pembridge appeared to strike the hand of Luke Moore but referee Lee Mason waved play on.

The Cottagers created the first clear chance of the game when Villa midfielder McCann lost possession and Malbranque played in Collins John but the striker pulled his shot wide of the far post.

John had another opportunity when he seized onto Malbranque's ball back across the box but his first-time volley flew into the Holte End.

Match Stats AVilla Fulham
Goals 0 0
Possession 51% 49%
Goal attempts 10 9
On Target 2 3
Corners 8 4
Off-sides 9 1
Fouls 14 9
Yellows 0 0
Reds 0 0
source: skysport

But Villa gradually took control and the recalled Lee Hendrie brought the home crowd to life when he was only inches too high with a right-footed volley from a narrow angle.

Moore showed a neat turn of pace to cut back inside and move away from the challenge of Ian Pearce but his eventual shot was always curling away from Mark Crossley's goal.

Villa came close on three occasions to taking the lead in just a few seconds.

Mark Crossley blocked a shot from McCann whose rebound effort was cleared off the line by Zat Knight and, when the loose ball fell to Villa skipper Gareth Barry, his powerdrive was kept out by the challenge of Moritz Volz.

Barry then chose to go for glory when the over-lapping defender Wilfred Bouma was in acres of space and his shot was deflected for a throw-in.

The visitors were struggling to move out of second gear and in another Villa move Steven Davis would have been disappointed to drag his pass behind Phillips after he had made a good run to the edge of the Fulham area,

Coleman would have wanted an improved display from his side and Malbranque missed a good chance to put them ahead two minutes after the restart.

A long free-kick from Crossley was flicked on by both Brian McBride and John into the path of Malbranque who found himself unmarked 12 yards out but he sent his volley wide.

Villa briefly came to life when Crossley went down at his near post to block a shot from Davis from a cross by Wilfred Bouma.

The Villa fans began to lose patience with their side and Sorensen twice had to go down to cling onto fierce drives from Malbranque.

Aston Villa Sorensen, De la Cruz, Hughes, Ridgewell, Bouma,Hendrie (Agbonlahor 58), McCann, Davis, Barry, Phillips,Moore (Angel 73).
Subs Not Used: Taylor, Cahill, Gardner.

Fulham Crossley, Volz, Pearce, Knight, Rosenior, Malbranque,Brown, Pembridge, Boa Morte, McBride, John (Radzinski 62).
Subs Not Used: Warner, Goma, Niclas Jensen, Christanval.

Att: 32,605

Ref: L Mason (Lancashire).

Source John Curtis at PA Sport
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