Clark header helps Villa hold Newcastle

Aston Villa collected their first Premier League point of the season courtesy of a spirited performance in a 1-1 draw with Newcastle United at the Sports Direct Arena.

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Clark header helps Villa hold Newcastle
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Ciaran Clark scores for Newcastle

Paul Lambert's side moved ahead on 22 minutes after a sustained period of pressure when Ciaran Clark rose to power home Barry Bannan's cross from close range.

Newcastle were struggling to break down Villa, but managed to retrieve a point from a difficult afternoon courtesy of a thumping drive by Hatem Ben Arfa that left visiting goalkeeper Brad Guzan - who had an assured afternoon after replacing the dropped Shay Given - with no chance on 59 minutes.

Indeed, it was Guzan who finalised the point for his side when he leapt across his goal five minutes into injury time to prevent Yohan Cabaye's free-kick from finding the back of the net.

Villa will be happier with the point having lost 1-0 at West Ham and 3-1 to Everton in their opening couple of matches of the new campaign.

Aston Villa have gone 13 Premier League matches without a win, which is a new record in the top league for the club, but the nature of this performance will surely encourage their manager as the players head off for the international break.

Newcastle United were without Ryan Taylor, who is set to be missing for several months with the knee injury he suffered during the Europa League win over Atromitos.

With James Perch also missing due to injury, there was a place on the subs bench for 18-year-old Gael Bigirimana, who would replace the injured Danny Simpson after he departed the action with a hamstring strain. Otherwise, it was an unchanged selection from the side that started in the 2-0 defeat at Chelsea eight days earlier.

Newcastle saw plenty of the ball early on, but it was Villa who threatened first before they scored with Tim Krul making a couple of decent saves to repel Darren Bent on 19 and 20 minutes.

Guzan made his first save of note on 31 minutes when he somehow managed to throw a leg at the ball to prevent Papiss Demba Cisse's shot from beating him after some neat work by Demba Ba out wide.

Cisse headed wide of the goal a minute into time added on in the first period. Villa were looking comfortable until Ben Arfa finally found his range to thump a blistering effort high beyond the despairing dive of Guzan.

It was Newcastle’s 999th Premier League goal and suddenly the home fans began to sense the 1,000 being the winner here.

Both sides began to find space the longer the game progressed in sweaty and exacting conditions with Stephen Ireland flashing a volley wide of goal on 78 minutes that could have sealed all three points for the visitors. In the final analysis, a draw was about the right outcome.

But Villa did not deserve to lose.

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