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Last Updated: Monday, 9 April 2007, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Aston Villa 1-1 Wigan
By John May

Aston Villa celebrate their equaliser
Patrik Berger celebrates his part in Villa's equaliser
Wigan clung on for a precious point at Aston Villa to help their relegation fight after being forced to play for nearly an hour with 10 men.

Luis Antonio Valencia was sent off by referee Mark Halsey for a two-footed challenge on Villa's Wilfred Bouma.

Emile Heskey had put Wigan ahead from close range, despite Villa claims keeper Thomas Sorensen was blocked.

Gabriel Agbonlahor touched home Villa's equaliser, with the referee's assistant ruling the ball crossed the line.

Agbonlahor threatened Wigan three times in the opening five minutes but such was his pace that he outran the support and was left waiting vainly for the cavalry to arrive.

Patrik Berger drew a full-length save from Wigan keeper John Filan and as Villa searched for an early opener the Latics struggled to break out of their own half.

Filan again came to Wigan's rescue, spreading to block as Agbonlahor broke clear, leaving Wigan's defender's spluttering in his dust.

606: DEBATE
MD

Heskey's former Birmingham City connections earned him boos whenever he touched the ball but he was cast in the role of pantomime villain when he controversially put Wigan ahead against the run of play.

Villa keeper Sorensen appeared to be held by Matt Jackson as Lee McCulloch headed back a deep corner and Heskey reacted to hook the ball in from close range.

Wigan suffered a self-inflicted blow on 35 minutes when Valencia was rightly shown a straight red card by referee Halsey for a dreadful, leaping ugly lunge on Bouma.

Despite their numerical advantage, Villa failed to test Filan and Wigan achieved their first target of reaching half time ahead.

Villa were at it from the restart, with Stiliyan Petrov crossing for Ashley Young to draw another fine, full-length save from Filan.

Emile Heskey put Wigan ahead
Emile Heskey gave Wigan a vital lead

But the Wigan keeper was helpless as Villa levelled five minutes into the second half

The assistant's flag stayed down as Berger latched on to Gareth Barry's pass but it was soon up to signal a goal as Agbonlahor got a touch to the cross and was credited with the goal despite Leighton Baines' effort to hook the ball off the line.

Unable to locate their lone outlet up front, Heskey, Wigan constantly found the ball coming straight back at them.

But for all their possession, Villa failed to build a head of steam and were content to try and pick Wigan apart.

Mellberg thought he had put Villa ahead twice within the space of 30 seconds. First he out-jumped Filan, only for Baines to sweep round and clear his looping header off the line.

But the linesman who adjudged Villa's equaliser to have crossed the line still had a part to play. Filan parried Mellberg's header against the inside of the post and this time the flag stayed down as the Aussie keeper snaked out an arm to drag the rebound back into play.

Villa huffed and puffed but were unable to find the goal that would give them their first League win over Wigan in four attempts.


  • Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill:
    "We could and should have won the game because we had lots of possession.  

    "Luck was not with us but we're happy to get four points from six games over the Easter period without our talisman John Carew.  

    "We kept going and tried to create chances and I am delighted with the effort of the team."

  • Wigan boss Paul Jewell:
    "Once we lost Luis Antonio Valencia because he was sent off it was attack against defence and so all things being equal we are happy with the point.

    "I have to give our players enormous credit. We had to re-organise the team three or four times but they stuck to the task and got vital blocks in.

    "We rode our luck at times but it is a big point for us, a point at this stage of the season is vital."


    Aston Villa: Sorensen, Bardsley, Mellberg, Laursen, Bouma (Young 38), Gardner, Petrov, Berger, Barry, Maloney (Moore 73), Agbonlahor.
    Subs Not Used: Taylor, Davis, Hughes.

    Booked: Petrov, Mellberg.

    Goals: Agbonlahor 50.

    Wigan: Filan, Hall (Skoko 52), Jackson, Baines, Unsworth (Taylor 46), Valencia, Scharner, Landzaat, Kilbane, Heskey (Folan 84), McCulloch.
    Subs Not Used: Nash, Aghahowa.

    Sent Off: Valencia (34).

    Booked: Baines, Filan, Scharner.

    Goals: Heskey 21.

    Att: 31,920.

    Ref: M Halsey (Lancashire).



    SEE ALSO
    Premiership clockwatch
    09 Apr 07 |  Premiership
    Monday's Premiership photos
    09 Apr 07 |  Football


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