Aston Villa 0 Newcastle United 0

Last updated : 18 April 2004 By Footymad Previewer

Aston Villa stumbled again as they wasted a fine opportunity to move above Newcastle into fourth spot in the Premiership table.

Once again Villa failed to grasp the chance to take advantage of a Newcastle side that played with only ten players for 81 minutes.

Players and officials on both teams became very agitated in the circumstances that prevailed - none more so than Newcastle's veteran manager, Sir Bobby Robson.

The outcome was hardly a surprise as United are a team who struggle to win away from home. They are the Premiership draw specialists on their travels and in this match they became the first club to move into double figures.

Newcastle, suffered several setbacks which began with the sending-off of Andy O'Brien in only the ninth minute for a foul on Darius Vassell and did extremely well to emerge with a hard-earned point.

It was O'Brien's second red card of the season but Newcastle did not suffer the same consequences as on the previous occasion when they were heavily defeated 5-0 by Chelsea.

The other major blow was losing Craig Bellamy five minutes into the second half with a hamstring injury.

These problems emphasise the strength in depth of the Magpies squad as they more than coped with the situation.

They operated without any real pressure from a Villa side that struggled to lift the pace and exploit the situation against depleted opposition.

Nolberto Solano made his return to the Villa side against his former club but failed to make any real impact. It was a big disappointment as Villa should have capitalised on United's predicament in the first half.

Instead they allowed the Magpies to dictate the pace and as such were unable to make much impression in a game they desperately needed to win to boost their prospects of playing in Europe next season.

United's one piece of good fortune occurred in the last minute of the first half when Vassell broke clear of Aaron Hughes who had tripped himself. Vassell put the ball in the net but referee Barry Knight disallowed the goal.

It was quite significant that Villa's first attempt on target did not arrive until the 66th minute when Shay Given easily saved a header by substitute Marcus Allback.

Midway through the second half the game became a little heated with Newcastle's Alan Shearer and Gary Speed both picking up yellow cards in an untidy encounter.