Premier League - Wolves joint top with Villa draw

Sat, 27 Aug 17:08:00 2011

Wolverhampton Wanderers held Aston Villa to a 0-0 Premier League draw in the Midlands derby at Villa Park.

Aston Villa v Wolves

Villa, hoping to secure a third home win in succession for manager Alex McLeish, enjoyed the greater weight of chances but on the rare occasions that they actually threatened Wayne Hennessey, they found the Wolves keeper in impressive form.

The points ends Wolves' unlikely 100 per cent start to the season but they are joint top of the table with Chelsea and Liverpool on seven points, though they find themselves third on goal difference.

Whether it was the warm glow of sunshine or the early Saturday kick-off, the first half had a subdued, almost relaxed feel to it, with the volume levels firmly out of keeping with what you would normally expect from a derby.

A lack of clear-cut chances hardly helped, and neither did a brief interlude when Villa defender Chris Herd, making only his second league start at right-back, required treatment on the pitch after inadvertently smacking his head against the post when trying to attack a cross.

Herd was given a difficult afternoon by England international Matt Jarvis and his left-back accomplice Stephen Ward, and the latter carved out the first good chance of the tie on 20 minutes when his deep cross was met at the back post by Stephen Hunt, who saw his downwards header awkwardly turned wide by Shay Given.

Villa responded and inside four minutes nearly took the lead. Gabriel Agbonlahor accelerated away from Richard Stearman down the left wing and his cut-back was met by Emile Heskey, who flung out a leg when getting in front of his man to turn the ball narrowly wide.

Stiliyan Petrov also exploited some sloppy defending from Christophe Berra to get in behind the defence, only to see his pass to Emile Heskey intercepted, while Jamie O'Hara had a couple of half-chances for Wolves before a passive first half drew to a close.

Villa emerged a renewed force though and immediately set about pressurising the visiting defence. Richard Dunne saw a header blocked by Kevin Doyle and Herd was also wreaking havoc in the air when meeting a cross from Agbonlahor and seeing his effort tipped over the bar by Wayne Hennessey.

Wolves had completely lost their shape and confusion reigned at the back when Charles N'Zogbia was left completely unmarked to collect a short corner from Petrov and drag his effort wide of the near post with 20 minutes remaining.

In an effort to stem the seemingly constant flow of Villa attacks, Mick McCarthy replaced his established wide men, Hunt and Jarvis, with two full-backs in the shape of George Elokobi and Kevin Foley, and the change did have some effect.

However, Hennessey was still forced to throw himself to his right and get two gloves to a wicked cross from Darren Bent to prevent Agbonlahor from converting with nine minutes of the match remaining.

Bent then got on the end of a deep cross to the back post from substitute Barry Bannan but after leaping above Elokobi and directing a header back across goal, the striker saw the ball land out of reach of Hennessey but on the roof of the net.

Wolves enjoyed a late rally and forced Bent to head clear from a corner when Given was primed to collect, but a point was sufficient reward for McCarthy's men.

Tom Adams - follow me on Twitter @tomEurosport / Eurosport

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