Premier League - Villa held in bore draw

Sat, 25 Feb 17:02:00 2012

Wigan stay rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table after playing out a drab goalless draw with Aston Villa at the DW Stadium.

Wigan 0 Aston Villa 0

Despite Wigan's victory over Bolton Wanderers in their last Premier League outing fresh in the home side's minds, Roberto Martinez's men began in tentative fashion.

An away point was overshadowed by an apparently serious injury to Villa and England striker Darren Bent, who was stretched off in agony after a second-half challenge from Antolin Alcaraz.

It was immediately obvious he could not continue and he now looks set for a long period on the sidelines.

An early attacking flurry which most notably saw Victor Moses's pullback evade the on-rushing Franco Di Santo and James McArthur in the ninth minute, was duly cancelled out by some intricate Aston Villa play with Robbie Keane pulling the strings from a withdrawn striker position.

Keane's low drive in the 10th minute was expertly tipped round Wigan's far post by Ali Al-Habsi and then, five minutes later, the Irishman's clipped delivery into the path of strike partner Bent forced the Omani keeper into a fine smothering save to deny Bent and the Villans an early opening goal.

As the first-half progressed, though, Wigan grew into the game and began to dominate possession. However, a distinct lack of incisiveness in the final attacking third summed up the Latics' recent plight - with Jean Beausejour, Moses and Jordi Gomez all particularly guilty of poor deliveries into the Villa penalty box time and time again.

It spoke volumes that Wigan, a team propping up the Premier League with the fewest goals attained in the division so far this season, failed to even register a shot on target to test Shay Given for the entire opening 45 minutes.

Villa began the second-half on the front foot, with Carlos Cuellar notable in wasting their best opportunity in the opening exchanges - heading straight at Al-Habsi from an unmarked position, just several yards out from the Wigan goal.

Although Wigan quickly began to impose themselves once more - mainly through the lively Di Santo whose header flashed across the Villa goal in the 52nd minute and double-shot was charged down by James Collins in the 58th minute - their lack of creativity and spark in front of goal was telling.

That prompted Roberto Martinez to introduce Hugo Rodallega after the hour-mark had passed, but the Colombian struggled to inject any real attacking vigour into Wigan's play.

Rodallega, along with James McCarthy, made poor decisions with the ball at their feet as Wigan advanced forward on two separate occasions just past the 70-minute mark, as the home side's frustrations continued to grow.

Villa for their part introduced Emile Heskey, Stephen Ireland and Charles N'Zogbia to freshen up their attacking options, but it was Wigan who were to end the stronger of the two teams.

Rodallega curled an effort just over Given's bar in the 84th minute and then, three minutes later, the Colombian teed up Moses whose first-time strike was charged down by the Villa keeper.

However, even with seven minutes of injury time allocated, mostly as a result of Bent's earlier injury, Wigan, nor Villa for that matter, were able to find that breakthrough goal - the best chance falling to Di Santo in the 93rd minute whose low strike from the edge of the Villa box was palmed away by Given - and so it resulted in honours even for two teams experiencing indifferent form at the wrong end of the table.

Liam Graf / Eurosport

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