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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 September 2006, 18:07 GMT 19:07 UK
Watford 0-0 Aston Villa
By Mandeep Sanghera

Watford keeper Ben Foster saves against Stiliyan Petrov in his side's goalless draw with Aston Villa
Foster is quick to clear and stop Petrov getting in a shot
Watford keeper Ben Foster and his Aston Villa counterpart Thomas Sorensen stole the show as their two sides had to settle for a draw at Vicarage Road.

Villa dominated for the first hour but Foster twice denied Stiliyan Petrov and dived full length to keep out a Gabriel Agbonlahor strike.

Watford produced a strong finish but Sorensen saved from Hameur Bouazza before tipping over a Marlon King shot.

Sorensen also somehow kept out a Malky Mackay header as honours finished even.

The verve which has been introduced into Villa's play since Martin O'Neill's appointment as manager was again evident from the start.

But, against a rugged Watford, they spurned some early chances before becoming increasingly frustrated through Foster's exploits as well as the home side's use of the offside trap.

Foster was warmed up for a busy first-half when he comfortably held a Steven Davis shot before a crucial save after nine minutes from Petrov.

Aston Villa keeper Thomas Sorensen
Sorensen was called on late but rose to the challenge

Petrov had been played through on goal by Agbonlahor's clever chipped ball from the right wing but the alert Foster quickly came out and blocked the Bulgarian's half-volley.

Davis almost immediately sent an angled shot just wide of the far post Villa's mounting pressure almost saw Watford buckle under the strain.

But the home side's offside trap clicked into gear with Agbonlahor continually being caught out through a mixture of Watford's application as well as the Villa striker's own fault.

Agbonlahor did manage to legally race clean through on goal on one occasion but produced a weak shot which was saved.

606 VIEW
Petrov was again given a sight of goal after a one-two with Juan Pablo Angel but he was again foiled by Foster's speed in coming out to scramble the ball clear.

The second half showed signs of going the same way as the first as Foster dived full length to turn a well-struck left-foot Agbonlahor strike round the post.

Angel sidefooted high as Villa squandered another chance before the Colombian headed wide from six yards.

Villa came close to being made to pay for their missed chances when Bouazza released a 20-yard strike but Sorensen came to their rescue.

Sorensen then tipped over and angled half-volley on the turn from King and produced a superb reaction save to keep out Mackay's header both teams had to settle for a point apiece.

  • Watford boss Aidy Boothroyd:
    "In the second half, I thought there was only one team in it for long periods, but we didn't convert our chances.

    "But we're making them and it's only a matter of time before we start winning, so no complaints with the result.

    "It's a long-term process at this club, the players come here to develop."

  • Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill:
    "We are probably pleased to have got something out of the game.

    "It's a bit frustrating because on Sunday we were coming away frustrated because we hadn't won at West Ham.

    "But overall I'm exceptionally pleased with the team. They put everything into the game. They've got a bit of determination, a wee bit of skill too."

    Watford: Foster, Doyley (DeMerit 45), Shittu, Mackay, Stewart, Smith (Priskin 78), Mahon, Francis, Young, Henderson (Bouazza 45), King.
    Subs Not Used: Lee, Spring.

    Booked: Mackay.

    Aston Villa: Sorensen, Mellberg, Laursen, Ridgewell, Barry, Davis (Gardner 85), Petrov, McCann, Agbonlahor, Angel, Moore (Baros 72).
    Subs Not Used: Taylor, Whittingham, Berger.

    Att: 18,620

    Ref: M Dean (Wirral).


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