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Saturday, 17 November, 2001, 16:56 GMT
Boro hold toothless Villa
Villa's Olof Mellberg slides in on Alen Boksic
Villa's Olof Mellberg slides in on Alen Boksic

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Aston Villa 0-0 Middlesbrough

Aston Villa missed the chance to go top of the Premiership with a wasteful performance at Villa Park.

John Gregory's side dominated but lacked the finishing touch to seal a fifth home league win in a row.

Boro defenders Gareth Southgate and Ugo Ehiogu will have been relieved to come away with a clean sheet on their return to Villa Park.

Boro's Carlos Marinelli (left) runs at Ian Talyor
Boro's Marinelli (left) runs at Talyor
The visitors were often overwhelmed by the home side, for whom Lee Hendrie was outstanding.

The young midfielder's tireless work-rate was complemented by several creative touches.

After 11 minutes he created Villa's first good chance of the afternoon.

He slotted a delightful through-ball to Juan Pablo Angel, who thumped the ball first time from 12 yards, but saw his effort come back off the crossbar.

Minutes later Angel shot powerfully from 25 yards with his left foot and Mark Crossley had to be alert to save.

Villa suffered a set-back when Mark Delaney was stretchered off with a suspected knee injury after 16 minutes.

I shook hands with them and told them 'well played' as they came off and both grunted something towards me
John Gregory on Villa old boys Southgate and Eghiogu

Ian Taylor came on at right-back, and Villa's shape was disrupted as a result of Taylor playing in an unfamiliar role.

But they still dominated their lacklustre opponents, and Boro boss Steve McClaren was incensed by the ineptitude of his side.

Hadji chance

But Boro almost stole the lead near the end of the half.

Carlos Marinelli swung in a corner from the left and Franck Queudreue hit the crossbar with a powerful far-post header.

Middlesbrough were forced to make a half-time substitution, with the experienced Colin Cooper replacing the injured Queuedrue in defence.

I shook John's hand. I don't know what he was expecting. I certainly did not turn down his handshake
Gareth Southgate

Villa were on the offensive again after the interval.

Stone cut in from the left and struck a curling shot that Crossley saved, and Angel was then went desperately close with a shot on the turn.

Villa had another golden chance after 56 minutes when Angel turned a cross from Stone back into the path of Kachloul.

But the Moroccan could not keep his shot down after twisting in the penalty area and it flew over the crossbar.

Aston Villa: Schmeichel, Delaney, Wright, Mellberg, Alpay, Stone, Boateng, Hendrie, Kachloul, Angel, Vassell. Subs: Taylor, Dublin, Enckelman, Ginola, Barry.

Middlesbrough: Crossley, Stockdale, Queudrue, Ehiogu, Southgate, Marinelli, Mustoe, Johnston, Greening, Nemeth, Boksic. Subs: Beresford, Windass, Wilson, Stamp, Cooper.

Referee: P Jones (Loughborough).

BBC Sport's Bob Ballard
"Not even David Ginola could save a turgid second half"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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