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West Ham United
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13 April 2013
• Villa Park, Birmingham
Referee: P. Dowd
• Attendance: 37011
C. N'Zogbia 55'
F. Delph 66' (own goal)
It's a good point for Fulham in reality. The Cottagers are notoriously poor travelers and have now breached the magic 40 point barrier. Premier League survival looks pretty much secured for Martin Jol's team. Villa on the other hand could really have done with three points from a very winnable home game. They're still very much fighting a relegation battle here and have just 34 points.
And we're done. That's full time from Villa Park. Charles N'Zogbia gave Aston Villa the lead early in the second-half but Fabien Delph's own goal handed Fulham a way back into this game. Both sides had the opportunities to win it but they just wouldn't go in.
90' + 2'
Darren Bent has the opportunity to knock the ball into the Fulham box but there's no danger in his cross. A draw looks likely here with just a minute left.
Three minutes stoppage time. Can Villa find a winner from somewhere? They need it. They really need it. A draw leaves them still deeply embroiled in the relegation mire.
Benteke comes close for Villa! The in-form striker slams the ball into the side netting when he probably should have slid the ball across goal. Much more likely to score at the fast post or find the lurking Darren Bent.
Again the final ball just not good enough from Villa. Lowton can't find a teammate as he finds himself in some space, running at the Fulham box.
Yellow Card Kieran Richardson
Keiron Richardson goes into the book for a rather soft foul on Sylla. Villa keep pressing.
Sylla wastes a good position for Villa, sliding his pass straight out of play after Lowton escapes down the right hand side. More quality needed if the Villains want to grab a winner here.
The ball is launched into the Fulham area from a free-kick. Schwarzer's punch is not the most convincing but it clears the danger, just. Villa continue to press but the Fulham defenders stay strong, Senderos heading away.
Both sides pushing for a winner here. A point certainly suits Fulham better here but they are still eager to secure what would be only their third away win of the season. Villa are desperate for all three points and the fans will be hoping the duo of Bent and Benteke can inspire them to a vital win.
Aston Villa make their final chance of the afternoon. Darren Bent is on for the home side to partner Benteke up front. The two strikers have failed to form an effective partnership this season with Benteke often preferred to Villa's record signing up top. Weimann is off and he will be disappointed. The young Austrian has done well here this afternoon.
Fabien Delph's nightmare afternoon continues. The ball falls to him in a fantastic position after Weimann can't find Benteke with his cross. Delph blasts the rebound way over the bar from point blank range with the goal at his mercy.
Jordan Nathaniel Bowery
Yellow Card Yacouba Sylla
Brett Holman has also entered the fray for Aston Villa. He has managed not to rack up a booking so far though. Can he grab a winner for the Villains?
The goalscorer Charles N'Zogbia is replaced by Paul Lambert. Sylla is on in his place and makes his first involvement straight away, earning a yellow card for a rash challenge.
Own Goal Fabian Delph
GOAL! Fabien Delph flicks the ball into his own net from a corner.
The ex-Leeds player has had an afternoon to forget here. Delph has been utterly anonymous all game, failing to dictate play for the Villains and has now flicked a Fulham corner into his own net. Could it cost his side two valuable points?
Enoh dives into a slightly reckless challenge, rather unwisely after being booked just five minutes ago. The man from Ajax is told to watch his step by Phil Dowd.
Mladen Petric is set to make an entrance here as Fulham search for an equaliser. The Croatian striker started brightly for the his new club earlier in the season but has struggled to make an impact in recent months with his last goal coming in October against QPR. Can he grab a vital goal here? He replaces Karagounis.
Villa need to be wary of their slender lead here. They have let more points slip from winning positions than any other side in the Premier League this season. Last home game saw a 1-0 lead against Liverpool turn into a 2-1 defeat. Can Fulham inflict the same pain here today?
Yellow Card Eyong Enoh
Fulham's defence are rocking. Villa pile on the pressure immediately after going one up and they now have a chance to attack this free-kick from just inside their own half.
Goal Charles N'Zogbia
GOAL! Charles N'Zogbia puts Aston Villa in front.
It's a lovely finish from N'Zogbia who found the ball at his feet inside the Fulham box and curled it past Schwarzer. He has marked his 50th game for the club with just his second league goal of the season. It's a big goal for Paul Lambert's men.
Fulham look much more purposeful this half. Big Martin Jol must have had the hairdryer out at half-time - in the unlikely circumstance that he actually owns one - and his side have started brightly. Karagounis has a shot from distance blocked but the corner comes to nothing.
Great chance for Berbatov! Bryan Ruiz plays a lovely pass to the Bulgarian who shoots just wide of Brad Guzan's left-hand post. So close to an opening goal for the visitors.
It opens up for Westwood here and he shoots from outside the area. His shot is deflected though and the resulting corner is cleared from that grafter Dimitar Berbatov.
Straight away Villa come close to grabbing a goal. Weimann breaks from a wide area but Schwarzer saves his shot from which was heading for the far corner. No Villa player can get to the rebound and Fulham clear.
And we're back underway here at Villa Park. No chances from either side. Who can inspire their team to an important victory?
Aston Villa managed to muster three shots on target that half, but Mark Schwarzer was equal to them all. Fulham are yet to trouble Brad Guzan in the Villa goal with Berbatov's blocked shot from an acute angle the closest they have come to an opener.
We've had just the one goal across all today's Premier League games so far. Thank god for Darron Gibson who has fired Everton in front against QPR. Unfortunately no one at Villa Park has been able to break the deadlock but it would be a surprise to see this one finish goalless. Villa have looked threatening on occasion and will know that a win takes them a whole lot closer to safety.
No, no they can't. There's just time for another offside call against Benteke and this one is goalless as we go into the break. It's been a tight game but Villa will certainly be the happier of the two sides. They've had all the best chances and kept Fulham at bay for much of this opening period.
45' + 1'
Two added minutes here. Can either side find the opener before the interval?
Up the other end N'Zogbia stings the palms of Mark Schwarzer once again. Benteke was calling for the ball just ahead of his teammate but was standing in a clearly offside position. The striker has been called offside a few times already today, perhaps showing a little inexperience.
Fulham win a corner here as Berbatov's shot from a tight angle is blocked by Nathan Baker. Ruiz whips it in and Benteke heads the ball away. The ball finds its way to Emmanuelson who goes past Bowery with a neat bit of skill. His pull back is dragged wide by Berbatov though.
Benteke is moving rather gingerly here. Paul Lambert will be praying it's nothing serious and that his star striker can make it to half-time so the physio can asses his fitness.
Better spell from Fulham. They can't get close to the Villa goal though and eventually the ball finds its way back to the centre-backs.
Lets have an interesting stat in lieu of any goals so far in the Premier League. Fulham have won just 10 of their last 73 away games in the League. The visitors don't particularly look like adding to that number today. Bad travelers.
Some lovely close control by Berbatov over on the right hand touchline. The Bulgarian's touch has been about the highlight for Martin Jol's side today. They're really struggling to carve out any clear-cut chances and stamp their authority on the game.
Hangelaand gives it way to Lowton but his pass to Weimann finds the Austrian in an offside position. Only just mind, tight call there. Seconds later Benteke finds himself in the same position as he looks over the touchline to see the linesman raising his flag for offside.
N'Zogiba plays in Benteke and his cross eventually finds its way back to the Frenchman. His shot is well saved by Schwarzer low to his right. The resulting corner falls to...guess who? It's Matthew Lowton! His shot isn't quite up to standards of last week's effort though.
Nervous moment for Fulham as Weimann is suddenly in space in front of Schwarzer. The veteran keeper comes out to clear though and the Cottagers survive again.
This is a better spell from Villa but Paul Lambert's side are possibly missing the pace of Gabby Agbonlahor against a somewhat aging Fulham back line. The Englishman has been in fine goalscoring form of late too.
Now N'Zogbia has a chance to shoot for Villa after some nice build up play by the home side. His shot flies wide though. Still goalless.
Villa come close to opening the scoring here. Weimann's cross finds its way to Benteke but is steered over by the youngster when he really should have done better.
Fulham do have a chance from a corner here but the ball is headed clear by the Villa defence. The ball comes out to Eyong Enoh but his woeful shot drifts well wide of the goal. The man from Ajax hasn't scored since 2011 so perhaps no surprises there.
We're approaching the mid-way point of this first-half and still neither goalkeeper has been tested. Both managers will be looking for a little more adventure from their respective sides.
A few murmuring of 'Shoot' coming from the Holt End every time Matthew Lowton gets on the ball following his wonder strike against Stoke last time out. The goal looked like something of a once in a lifetime effort from Lowton though, don't pin your hopes on a repeat today.
Benteke almost manages to wriggle his way through the Cottager's defence. Weimann is in an offside position though and as the ball rebounds off him another attack breaks down before any serious danger can develop.
Weimann drills one in from the left. The ball is hacked upwards by the Fulham defence though and Mark Schwarzer catches to prevent the corner.
Whenever the ball makes its way towards either goal the play seems to break down to easily. Not much quality shown in the final third so far from these two.
Nice spell of possession here from Fulham , penning Villa in. The ball breaks lose though and now Paul Lambert's side have a chance to counter.
Stanislav Manolev is coming on the replace Duff. Manolev started last time out against Newcastle and will be looking to make an impact here on his loan spell from PSV Eindhoven.
Berbatov is called offside as he looks to break free of the Villa back line, and now Damien Duff has pulled up with what looks like a groin strain. The Irishman's afternoon could well be over already.
Weimann gets the opportunity to cross from the left. The ball is headed clear by Senderos though before Benteke can get near it.
Fabien Delph has a long-range effort blocked by Brede Hangelaand. Neither side able to carve out a clear-cut chance so far.
And we're underway here, who can make the first move as both teams look for all three points?
In Dimitar Berbatov Fulham also have a man in form. Berbatov has five of Fulham's last ten goals and 13 for the season. Can he add another at Villa park today?
The Cottagers lost out to Villa for the signature of Christian Benteke in the summer and will be hoping that the impressive Belgian doesn't make them regret it even more by scoring against them today.
Despite a last minute defeat to Newcastle last time out Fulham are in decent form themselves with just one defeat in the last six games. With 39 points earned already this season Martin Jol's side look safe for another season and should play with some of the pressure off today.
The Villians are still just two points away from the relegation zone though and know that a defeat could leave them in all kinds of trouble as we approach the end of the season.
Aston Villa are on a good run with three wins from their last four and will be hoping to extend this impressive form with a win which would take them to within three points of Fulham who are tenth.
Fulham: Schwarzer; Richardson, Senderos, Hangelaand, Reither; Duff, Karagounis, Enoh, Emanuelson; Ruiz, Berbatov. Subs: Etheridge, Riise, Hughes, Manolev, Frimpong, Petric, Rodallega.
Lets begin with the line-ups shall we? Aston Villa go with: Guzan; Vlaar, Bennet, Baker, Lowton; N'Zogbia, Westwood, Delph, Bowery; Weimann, Benteke. Subs: Given, Clark, El Ahmadi, Holman, Sylla, Dawkins, Bent.
Welcome along to Goal.com's live coverage of Aston Villa vs Fulham from Villa Park. I'm Jack Johnson and I'll be taking you through today's action.
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