Cardiff City 0 Aston Villa 0 match report: David Marshall wonder save at death means relieved Cardiff get vital point

New manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has goalkeeper to thank as his relegation threatened side hang on

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The Independent Football

David Marshall is getting used to rescuing Cardiff City and two spectacular second-half saves helped his relegation- threatened side to snatch a priceless point.

The Scottish international goalkeeper first thwarted Fabian Delph and finally, in spectacular fashion, Andreas Weimann at the death to halt Aston Villa’s second-half surge as the visitors went in search of maximum points.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s relegation haunted side had suffered a blow before the game when Craig Bellamy “reluctantly accepted” the FA charge of violent conduct against him for striking Jonathan de Guzman following last weekend’s south Wales derby defeat at Swansea. The Welsh striker now sits out three games – although one of them will be Saturday’s FA Cup clash with Wigan – just when his experience is needed most.

Shorn of his star turn, Solskjaer reunited the old Sunderland front-runners Kenwyne Jones and Fraizer Campbell at the head of an attacking 4-4-2 formation that went in search of much needed goals. The pair probed for that vital opening goal in the first half and gave the Villa back four plenty of problems.

They also kept Brad Guzan on his toes in the visitors’ goal. Twice in the space of 10 seconds, the American had his woodwork to thank for the game remaining level when he first pushed a Campbell shot onto his right-hand post and then Craig Noone’s dipping, deflected shot from 25 yards cracked the crossbar.

There were a few other close shaves for Guzan, but the goal that Solskjaer was so desperately seeking for his side didn’t arrive in the opening half, even though Wilfried Zaha managed to get the ball in the net from a corner after 35 minutes but was clearly offside.

Fraizer Campbell causes an awkward moment for Villa keeper Brad Guzan (Getty)

So, it was the same old story for the Bluebirds fans, who witnessed a blank sheet in the first-half for the 21st time in 26 Premier League games this season. As for Villa, after last weekend’s damaging 2-0 home defeat at the hands of West Ham, Paul Lambert was much the happier – if somewhat relieved – manager at the interval.

His side had managed to contain Cardiff and, on the odd occasion, had looked dangerous on the break, with Christian Benteke pulling the strings. But what a difference a cup of tea and a dressing-room chat can make because Lambert’s side came out and took the game to Cardiff in the second half. They pressed forward at pace and it took Steven Caulker and Ben Turner at their very best at the heart of the home defence to keep them at bay.

Pressure from a series of corners was finally eased when Cardiff countered, resulting in a Jones and Campbell combination at the other end that  saw the latter shoot wide. But Villa’s vastly improved attitude almost paid dividends on the hour when Leandro Bacuna sprinted out of his own half, linked perfectly with Gabriel Agbonlahor who raced on into the box but the striker could only push his shot wide.

Inspired by their success on the break, Villa had two golden chances to steal the points when Delph forced a brilliant one-handed save from  Marshall and then Kevin Theophile-Catherine thwarted Agbonlahor with a timely tackle 15 yards out as the Villa striker was clean through.

Weimann had the last chance, but Marshall also defied him with an incredible reaction save to tip the ball over. Those three moments could be crucial in the final analysis, but it is at the other end of the pitch that last season’s Championship winners have the biggest problem.

Man of the match Turner.

Match rating 7/10.

Referee Clattenburg (Lancashire).

Attendance 27,597.