Football: Joachim gives Little respite

Aston Villa 1 Joachim 87 Leicester City 1 Parker pen 53 Attendan ce: 36,429
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FOOTBALLERS have learnt never to presume, but Brian Little made a fair supposition that leaving Leicester City to manage Aston Villa would be worth the abuse and would lead to bigger and better things. Three years on, Villa have still failed to beat Leicester in a Premiership match and their relatively impoverished neighbours remain ahead of them in the table.

That Villa were more grateful for this draw highlights the differing fortunes of the two clubs and also reflects the balance of these 90 minutes. Indeed, Villa were only just saved by a goal from the substitute Julian Joachim, three minutes from the end, when they finally managed to cancel out Garry Parker's 52nd-minute penalty.

Unlike so many cautious derbies, this Midlands affair started with invention and adventure. Villa, as was their home duty, went straight on to the attack, while Leicester looked dangerous on the break through Emile Heskey.

But the game became frantic and scrappy after the early thrills and spills, although there was a fine turn and shot by Villa's Stan Collymore, and his team-mate Ian Taylor had the ball in the net before his shot was ruled out for an earlier offence.

Fortunately, the second period had the action and passion which had been anticipated from the start. The Villa defender, Riccardo Scimeca, recklessly tripped Muzzy Izzet and the referee, Mike Riley, rightly awarded a penalty. Parker, a former Villa player, scored from the spot. Leicester did not particularly deserve their lead as the penalty marked their first genuine shot on goal, but they played like winners for the next 20 minutes.

Now it was Villa who attacked on the break. One such attack presented a great chance for Simon Grayson to score against his former team-mates, but he shot wide having been put clear on goal by Collymore.

Yet the Villa equaliser still came as a surprise when Collymore crossed from the left and Joachim flicked a brilliant header into the bottom left- hand corner of Kasey Keller's goal.

The Leicester manager, Martin O'Neill, said it was a natural tendency for players to try to hang on to slender leads, but that was ultimately why Villa scrambled their point. It certainly came as a relief to Little, who now has to get his players back up for Wednesday's FA Cup replay against Portsmouth.