Aston Villa vs Newcastle match report: Honours even in dull draw at Villa Park

Aston Villa 0 Newcastle 0

Villa Park

It says everything about Aston Villa’s lack of menace yesterday that the most dangerous moment conjured up by a man in home colours came when Roy Keane (below), their new assistant manager, accidentally flung a water bottle straight at manager Paul Lambert’s private parts down in the technical area.

That symbolised the lack of cutting edge from a Villa side who, still missing the injured Christian Benteke, did not manage a single shot on target and owed the point gained against Newcastle United to Brad Guzan’s second-half saves from Daryl Janmaat and Siem de Jong.

Yet to suggest this was a straight rerun of last season’s home woes – when Villa suffered a record 10 defeats in Birmingham – would be unfair as Lambert was quick to point out afterwards. “That was a game that we’d have lost last year,” he said. “It’s a great start for us after the doom and gloom towards the end of last season. We were resolute, had another clean sheet and some really big performances.”

Villa now have four points and their first back-to-back shutouts since last November, following their opening-day win at Stoke. Not a bad start and the home fans who did turn up in the disappointingly low 30,267 crowd – a consequence partly, perhaps, of the early kick-off and the T20 finals taking place at Edgbaston – will have seen a particularly dynamic performance from Alan Hutton on his first appearance at Villa Park since May 2012. Lambert was delighted with both Hutton and his new left-back Aly Cissohko, saying: “I thought he and Cissokho were outstanding.”

It was a day for full-backs to shine given the equally impressive display from Newcastle’s £6m summer recruit Janmaat. A member of Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands World Cup side, he was up and down the right all afternoon and came as close as anybody to breaking the deadlock in the second half when he had a flying header turned over by Guzan and then shot just wide following a surge into the box.

An early run by Janmaat led to the best opening of the first half too when Yoan Gouffran’s deflected shot fell to Rémy Cabella close to goal but the French winger slipped as he shot and the ball trickled wide. With Jack Colback helping Newcastle gain control in midfield in front of watching England manager Roy Hodgson, the visitors looked increasingly likely winners.

“We absolutely dominated the second half,” said Alan Pardew, the Newcastle manager. They should have won it but centre-back Mike Williamson – sent off late on for a second booking after obstructing the lively Fabian Delph – missed his kick when unmarked at the back post. Then De Jong, on his debut, failed to beat Guzan with a fierce shot after being put clear by fellow substitute Ayoze Perez. “Willo should have headed it instead of trying the left-foot volley and then Siem had a massive chance,” added Pardew, who has yet to see a Newcastle goal this term. “We’ve got a good solid team and it’s just about getting the goals.”

Lambert could say the same. Villa’s only real threat came in the first period with a Charles N’Zogbia header on to the top of the net and free-kick narrowly wide. He was able to give Colombia midfielder Carlos Sanchez his debut as a second-half substitute yet what Villa need above all is Benteke, whose anticipated return next month cannot come soon enough.

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