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Page last updated at 17:31 GMT, Saturday, 24 January 2009

Doncaster 0-0 Aston Villa

Gareth Roberts challenges Villa's Gareth Barry
Gareth Roberts (r) challenges Aston Villa's Gareth Barry

Aston Villa secured an FA Cup fourth-round replay despite a pulsating display by Championship side Doncaster.

Rovers' Martin Woods rattled the bar with a cracking first-half shot and again late on with a free-kick.

But Villa always looked dangerous and Doncaster's veteran keeper Neil Sullivan produced fine saves to deny Gabriel Agbonlahor and Curtis Davies.

And Agbanlahor missed a great chance when he fired against the bar after being released by Steve Sidwell.

It was an uncomfortable afternoon for the Premier League side as they struggled to find any real tempo at Keepmoat Stadium.

Villa manager Martin O'Neill named a virtually full-strength line-up, although central defender Carlos Cuellar was deployed at right-back with Nigel Reo-Coker playing in midfield.

Cuellar did not look comfortable and Rovers' Gareth Roberts sneaked behind the Spaniard early on, only to fire wide from seven yards out.


And Villa were given an even bigger scare when Cuellar's over-hit backpass was cleared by keeper Brad Friedel as far as Woods, whose strike smashed against the upright.

Villa themselves missed an early chance, with Agbonlahor shooting high and wide after pouncing on a defensive mix-up.

O'Neill's men also went close when James Milner headed wide from Gareth Barry's cross, before Sullivan saved superbly from Agbonlahor.

Reo-Coker served up a terrific cross from the right and the outstretched Agbonlahor saw his effort pushed away.

Sullivan also did well to keep out Milner's second-half free-kick as Villa enjoyed a spell of pressure.

Sidwell missed a wonderful opportunity by heading Barry's cross wide and then sent Agbonlahor clear, but the forward's shot came back off the woodwork.

Rovers - who will no doubt test Villa in the replay - went within a whisker of a shock victory when Woods was thwarted by the crossbar for the second time.

The midfielder's 87th-minute free-kick beat Friedel and so nearly broke the deadlock.

There was still time for Craig Gardner to miss a golden chance to take Villa through when he shot straight at Sullivan from close range.

Doncaster manager Sean O'Driscoll:
"I thought we gave a good account of ourselves. We were indebted to Neil Sullivan on a couple of occasions, but then we were a whisker away from scoring ourselves.

"Villa are an excellent counter-attacking side, but we matched them and gave them problems, so I'm pleased with the performance and the result.

"We controlled parts of the game, were a threat, and although we've had problems scoring goals this season, we made them play as well as they did."

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill:
"I thought it was a good game, and I was impressed with Doncaster.

"They played particularly well in the first half, had the better of it, and it took us some time to get into our stride.

"But in the second half we were more like ourselves. We had a couple of great chances but didn't take them. I'm delighted that we're still in the FA Cup."

Doncaster: Sullivan, O'Connor, Mills, Hird, Roberts, Woods, Stock, Wellens, Coppinger (Price 76), Guy (Heffernan 76), Spicer (Lockwood 90).
Subs Not Used: Taylor, Van Nieuwstadt, Wilson, Byfield.

Aston Villa: Friedel, Davies, Cuellar, Knight, Reo-Coker (Gardner 70), Sidwell, Petrov, Barry, Shorey, Milner, Agbonlahor.
Subs Not Used: Harewood, Delfouneso, Salifou, Guzan, Osbourne, Clark.

Att: 13,517

Ref: Mark Halsey.

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor 7.75 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
FA Cup photos
24 Jan 09 |  FA Cup
Live text - FA Cup fourth round
24 Jan 09 |  FA Cup

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