Tottenham Hotspur 0 Aston Villa 0: O'Leary deflects attention with envious look at Spurs' resources

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The Independent Football

As the row reverberates, and rumours continue to circulate about Villa's financial future, all O'Leary can do is earn results by making best use of the resources at his disposal.

That task was carried out satisfactorily on Saturday as an industrious but fundamentally unthreatening Villa team frustrated a Tottenham side keen to widen the gap between themselves and their fifth-placed rivals Arsenal, who had lost at Everton in the morning.

Despite having Gareth Barry sent off in the 83rd minute for a second yellow card after a tackle on Aaron Lennon, Villa - unbeaten in four away games - extended the run with a point that keeps them above the worst of the relegation scrap.

The home team offered a performance that was full of invention and optimism. But Villa, with Olof Mellberg and Mark Delaney obdurate in central defence, and the goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen in fine form, defied the best that the hyperactive forward pairing of Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe could produce.

For Defoe, back in the side now Mido is on African Nations' Cup duty for Egypt, the frustration was particularly intense and he was substituted 15 minutes from time by Grzegorz Raziak, who showed touches of the form which persuaded Martin Jol to sign him from Derby County.

O'Leary was full of praise for Spurs' recent purchases, adding that many of the new arrivals - such as Lennon, Michael Dawson and Jermaine Jenas (who was carried off with concussion) - were just the kind of players he would sign if he had the resources.

"Nottingham Forest gave me a regular directors' box ticket because I was watching Dawson so often," O'Leary said. "But we couldn't sign him." It was the same story, apparently, with his former goalkeeper at Leeds, Paul Robinson. "Spurs got him cheap. Definitely. But it was not cheap for us."

Whoever decides to take advantage of the apparent opportunity to purchase one of England's proudest old clubs, they will be in no doubt about the necessity of providing more funds for O'Leary when they arrive at Villa Park.

Jol denied that the afternoon's action had been frustrating, preferring to describe it as disappointing. "You get frustrated if you give a goal away after playing like we did today," he said. "But we played our football from the back. The midfield did well, [and] we created five or six chances."

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson; Kelly, Dawson, King, Lee; Jenas (Lennon, 45), Carrick, Davids (Brown, 62), Tainio; Defoe (Raziak, 75), Keane. Substitutes not used: Cerny (gk), Gardner.

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Sorensen; Hughes, Delaney, Mellberg, Barry; Milner, McCann, Davis, Hendrie; Baros (Moore, 79; Samuel, 85), Angel. Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk), Ridgewell, Gardner.

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).

Booked: Villa Angel, Barry.

Sent off: Barry (83).

Man of the match: Keane.

Attendance: 36,243.