Match Report: Aston Villa 0 Stoke City 0
ASTON VILLA 0
STOKE CITY 0
STOKE City ground out a goalless draw at Aston Villa this afternoon to stretch their unbeaten run to six games.
Ryan Shotton was sent off in the third minute of injury time after collecting a second booking in an otherwise uneventful contest.
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Stoke were well worth their point after another excellent defensive performance in a game in which neither keeper had to make a save of note.
Tony Pulis made just one change to the team which won at West Brom last week as Dean Whitehead replaced the suspended Charlie Adam.
Stoke were soon on the back foot, but right back Shotton snuffed out an early Villa opening as he raced across to win the ball from Christian Benteke on the edge of the area.
Villa came closer on 12 minutes when a corner from the left dropped to Benteke at the back post. He smashed the ball goalwards from ten yards but Ryan Shawcross threw himself at the shot to make a crucial block.
City quickly changed their formation from 4-5-1 to 3-5-2 to match Aston Villa's system. That meant Ryan Shotton and Matthew Etherington going to right and left wing back respectively as Geoff Cameron moved into a back three with Robert Huth and Shawcross.
Barry Bannan curled a 25-yard free kick over the bar, but Villa came closer on 35 minutes when Eric Lichaj broke into the left side of the area. He pulled the ball across the face of goal towards Benteke, but Huth came to City's rescue with a last-gasp block to deny Benteke a tap in.
Brett Holman broke down the right before pulling the ball back to Benteke, but his 18-yard strike was blocked by Cameron.
Ciaran Clark was fortunate to escape a booking for a sliding challenge on Glenn Whelan as a scrappy half drew to a close.
Aston Villa 0 Stoke City 0
Villa should have scored within a minute of the restart when Holman volleyed the ball across to Benteke. He had just Begovic to beat but could only steer a weak volley straight to the keeper. .
Begovic then blocked Lowton's cross-shot at his near post after a frantic goalmouth scramble.
Referee Roger East was resisting the temptation to get his cards out, despite some borderline challenges on both sides.
Benteke's scuffed shot was blocked by Cameron as Villa struggled to convert their superior possession into chances.
Villa boss Paul Lambert made a double change on 67 minutes as Darren Bent and Stephen Ireland replaced Gabriel Agbonlahor and Holman.
But Stoke were beginning to threaten and came close to scoring moments later with their first shot of the game. Jones's header across the area dropped to Walters whose ferocious ten-yard strike was deflected over by Nathan Baker's sliding challenge.
Cameron Jerome replaced Etherington on 68 minutes before Tony Pulis made a second change on 75 minutes as Peter Crouch replaced Jones.
Shotton became the first player on either side to be booked as he was yellow-carded for dissent on 75 minutes.
Stoke were playing the game more in the Villa half as the match wore on, so Fabian Delph came on for Bannan on 78 minutes as Lambert tried to wrest the initiative back to Villa.
Shotton was desperately unlucky to be sent off in the third minute of injury time after earning a second booking, this time for a trip on Delph.
If there was any contact it looked accidental, but at least City only had to play a few seconds with ten men before the full-time whistle confirmed a hard-earned point.
ASTON VILLA: Guzan, Clark, Baker, Herd, Lichaj, Bannan (Delp, 78), Westwood, Holman (Ireland, 67), Lowton, Agbonlahor (Bent, 67), Benteke.
Subs: Given, El Ahmadi, Weimann, Williams.
STOKE CITY: Begovic, Cameron, Huth, Shawcross, Shotton, Etherington (Jerome, 68), Whelan, Nzonzi, Whitehead, Walters, Jones (Crouch, 75).
Subs: Sorensen, Palacios, Upson, Kightly, Wilkinson.
Referee: Roger East