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Last Updated: Friday, 26 December, 2003, 16:56 GMT
Leeds 0-0 Aston Villa
Jermaine Pennant
Leeds remain in the drop zone after being held at home to Aston Villa.

Both sides showed plenty of effort and desire but the game was desperately short of goalscoring opportunities.

Juan Pablo Angel had a goal ruled out for handball, while Leeds had the ball in the net only for defender Michael Duberry to be ruled offside.

Former Leeds boss David O'Leary got a mixed response on his return to Elland Road for the first time since being sacked by the club 18 months ago.

As expected O'Leary was booed by some Leeds fans, but he also heard some cheers from fans who remembered the good times of his rollercoaster reign.

Once the game got under way there was not too much for the fans to cheer about with hardly a clear-cut chance in sight.

Villa's in-form striker Angel had the first shot in the seventh minute with a 25-yard effort which bobbled past Paul Robinson's right-hand post.

Leeds responded with Jermaine Pennant superbly controlling a high hanging ball from Mark Viduka before drilling in a cross from the right-hand edge of the area.

Villa keeper Thomas Sorensen could only parry the cross but Dion Dublin came to his keeper's rescue by clearing.

35 mins: Angel's effort is ruled out for use of the hand
54 mins: Duberry has the ball in the net for Leeds but it is ruled out for offside
The visitors were happy to counter-attack and a low cross from Jlloyd Samuel was flicked goalwards by Stefan Moore, but Robinson collected easily.

James Milner latched onto a Robinson clearance, but the 17-year-old completely mis-hit his shot and Sorensen comfortably saved.

Villa looked to have taken a 35th-minute lead when Angel bundled over the line from a Lee Hendrie left-wing free-kick.

But the Colombian clearly used his right hand and the infringement was spotted by one of the assistant referees.

Leeds looked more lively in attack in the opening exchanges of the second half and had the ball in the net themselves.

A free-kick from Milner was sidefooted home by Duberry but he was adjudged offside.

Villa's Peter Whittingham had a volley deflected over the bar by Duberry but it was Leeds who looked the more likely to break the deadlock.

Alan Smith had a shot blocked by Dublin and then skipper Dominic Matteo fired a 25-yard shot over the bar as the home side desperately looked for an opening.

Teenage defender Matthew Kilgallon was making his first Premiership start and he was lucky to get away with a shove on the back of Moore inside the penalty area.

Villa threw on Thomas Hitzlsperger and Darius Vassell in an effort to force their way back into the game.

There was a late flurry of chances with Gareth Barry, Vassell and Angel firing off target and Smith's 30-yard effort saved by Sorensen.

But neither side really did enough to deserve the three points.

And as the campaign approaches the halfway point the only thing Leeds and Villa are likely to be playing for come the end of the season is their Premiership status.

Leeds: Robinson, Kelly, Duberry, Kilgallon, Harte, Pennant (Lennon 73), Smith, Batty, Matteo (Bakke 64), Milner, Viduka. Subs not used: Carson, Sakho, McPhail.

Aston Villa: Sorensen, Delaney, Mellberg, Dublin, Samuel, Hendrie (Vassell 66), Barry, McCann, Whittingham, Angel, Moore (Hitzlsperger 66). Subs not used: Postma, De la Cruz, Johnsen.
Booked: Dublin, Whittingham.

Attendance: 38,513.

Referee: S Bennett (Kent).

BBC Sport's Ian Dennis
"The action was unable to divert attention from the ex-Leeds boss"

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