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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 August 2007, 18:10 GMT 19:10 UK
Newcastle 0-0 Aston Villa
Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce
Allardyce spent a frustrating afternoon
Aston Villa frustrated Newcastle in Sam Allardyce's first home game in charge to open their account for the season.

Villa boss Martin O'Neill set Newcastle a defensive problem they were never able to solve, despite Michael Owen's return from the bench.

Defender David Rozehnal was denied by Scott Carson in one of the few clear-cut chances Newcastle created.

Villa defender Martin Laursen's header was blocked by Steve Harper, who also tipped away Nigel Reo-Coker's shot.

Villa stood resolute and firm and, after soaking up Newcastle's initial surge, they emerged to create the early danger.

John Carew took advantage as the Newcastle defence stood off him to amble forward and let fly with a shot which Steve Harper tipped over.

From the resulting corner Laursen escaped his marker but planted a free header straight at Harper who blocked with his chest.


Villa were happy to get plenty of men behind the ball, safe in the knowledge that they had an outlet in Gabriel Agbonlahor's pace, while Carew offered an imposing target.

James Milner was Newcastle's best outlet and he provided a cross which Mark Viduka just failed to acrobatically make contact with, while Alan Smith shanked his shot as Milner cleverly cut the ball back to him.

Agbonlahor sounded alarms when he surged forward from deep in his own half, leaving defenders coughing in his vapour trail.

The ball broke for him on the edge of the Newcastle box, but instead of knocking the ball square to the unmarked Reo-Coker, shot wearily wide.

Having gone close at one end, Laursen came even closer to scoring his second own goal in successive weeks when he headed Geremi's inswinging free-kick downwards and was relieved to see the ball bounce over the bar.

Newcastle finished the first half strongly and it needed a superb reflex save from Carson to claw away Rozehnal's close-range piledriver.

Newcastle's James Milner and Villa's Craig Gardner
Craig Gardner keeps James Milner in check

Villa's system continued to frustrate Newcastle, with Ashley Young and Stilian Petrov cutting off the supply down the flanks, and making it difficult for Newcastle to bring target man Viduka into the game.

Villa carried a threat on the break and Agbonlahor's raking pass found Reo-Coker, Harper needing to stretch to tip away the midfielder's left-foot curler.

On the rare occasions Newcastle did break down Villa's solid defence, their final pass let them down, with Milner tricking his way into a promising position, only to fail to pick out a clutch of team-mates in the middle.

Newcastle threw Owen into the fray with 23 minutes left, but their problem of supplying him remained as Villa continued to outwit and frustrate the home team.

  • Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce:
    He said: "Aston Villa have been with Martin O'Neill for 12 months and they have a very stubborn defence. We cancelled each other out.

    "We both tried to change it during the games but there weren't many chances.

    "It's disappointing not to create more chances or score but a clean sheet is very important. It's a good platform to build on."

  • Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill:
    "We were playing away from home against a good side yet I thought we were the better side.

    "I thought we bossed it. We defended very strongly and had a lot of possession. Deep down I'm disappointed not to have won.

    "Our second half-performance was really good. I'm delighted with the effort and with the energy we showed."

    Newcastle: Harper, Carr, Rozehnal, Taylor, N'Zogbia, Smith, Butt, Geremi (Cacapa 90), Martins (Owen 63), Viduka (Ameobi 77), Milner.
    Subs Not Used: Forster, Ramage.

    Aston Villa: Carson, Gardner, Mellberg, Laursen, Bouma, Young, Petrov, Reo-Coker, Barry, Agbonlahor, Carew (Moore 66).
    Subs Not Used: Taylor, Harewood, Cahill, Maloney.

    Booked: Gardner, Reo-Coker.

    Att: 51,049

    Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).

    Saturday's football photos
    18 Aug 07 |  Football


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