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Premier League

  • 9 April 2012
  • • 17:30
  • • Villa Park, Birmingham
  • Referee: M. Dean
  • • Attendance: 30100

Aston Villa 1-1 Stoke City: Huth cancels out Weimann opener as McLeish's side extend winless run to four matches

The youngster's fabulous opener was cancelled out by a late goal from a set-piece as the Birmingham side could only take a point despite looking untroubled for much of the match

Aston Villa extended their Premier League winless run to four games as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Stoke City at Villa Park.

Andreas Weimann opened the scoring after 32 minutes with a fine effort from the edge of the area, curling the ball into the opposite corner high over Asmir Begovic.

However, Stoke earned an equaliser in the second half as Jermaine Pennant's free-kick was nodded home by Robert Huth.

The injuries that have blighted Alex McLeish's side were there for all to see in the starting XI, with the relatively inexperienced Weimann coming in up front. There was also a starting berth for 20-year-old Nathan Baker at the back, whilst Stephen Warnock was drafted into midfield.

The Potters, meanwhile, made three changes to the side that defeated Wolves with Wilson Palacios and Kenwyne Jones coming in for Glenn Whelan and Peter Crouch, while Rory Delap earned his first start in nearly two months in place of Pennant.

Stoke almost gave away a chance straight from kick-off, as they gifted possession to Stephen Ireland, but the midfielder was just unable to find Weimann.

Warnock, playing on the left wing, hauled down Ryan Shotton in the opening 10 minutes to pick up the game's first booking, but nothing came of the free-kick that followed.

Jones had a shot that rippled the side netting after 18 minutes, and just a minute later the Villa home faithful showed their support for absent captain Stilian Petrov, dedicating a minute of applause to the man affectionately known as Stan.

The next 10 minutes ticked by without any real consequence, but just after the half-hour mark, Villa took the lead through a stunning effort from Weimann.

The 20-year-old found himself in possession 25 yards from goal, and after a quick one-two with Ireland, he whipped a fabulous effort over Asmir Begovic and into the far corner for a delightful goal.

And, though Stoke are a team noted for their prowess from set pieces, it was Villa who were causing trouble, with numerous corners in the first half.

James Collins almost had an opportunity to double the lead straight after the opener from one of these corners, but he was closed down quickly and rushed his shot which flew over.

Stoke came close shortly after, as Shay Given dropped a high ball under a challenge from Jones, only for Chris Herd to mop up.

And only a desperate block from Warnock stopped Palacios from equalising, as the defender threw himself in front of a shot that was bound for goal to deflect it wide.

Jonathan Walters came close in added time in the first half, heading Matthew Etherington's cross onto the roof of the net after Given was again put under pressure by Jones.

Villa went into the break looking quite comfortable and defending solidly to keep Tony Pulis' side at arm's length as the Potters gave something of an end-of-season performance in the first 45 minutes.

However, the visitors came out after the break with a higher intensity to their play, forcing Villa onto the back foot with a barrage of set-pieces in the opening 10 minutes.

Despite that onslaught, the first real chance of the second half fell to Gabriel Agbonlahor, who was put through down the left. As Begovic came out to narrow the angle, the Villa captain snatched at his shot and dragged it across the face of goal, eventually curving out for a throw-in.

In the build-up to the shot, Warnock picked up an injury after landing awkwardly on his ankle. Though a stretcher was called for, the left-back was able to walk unaided, but could not continue and was replaced by Gary Gardner.

15 minutes into the second period Pulis rang the changes, bringing on Crouch and Pennant for Jones and the ineffectual Etherington.

It took a further 10 minutes before Stoke could really trouble the hosts, but when they did it earned them an equaliser. Pennant went down under a challenge on the wing with the ball going out of play and picked himself up to deliver a wonderful free-kick into the six-yard-box which was dispatched by Huth. There were plenty of complaints from the home side though, as the German centre-back appeared to be using James Collins as a platform to aid his jump.

Collins' remonstrations earned him a yellow card, and he was even more incensed a minute later when he was denied a penalty at the other end as Ryan Shawcross seemed to have hold of his shirt, denying him from reaching a Barry Bannan free-kick.

With 10 minutes remaining, Pulis made his last throw of the dice, bringing Ricardo Fuller off the bench for Delap for the striker's first appearance since his reckless stamp on Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic at Stamford Bridge.

With five minutes left Stoke earned a throw in despite the ball rebounding off Pennant and from Ryan Shotton's long throw, there was a clash of heads between Huth and Herd, with the Aston Villa man coming off worse. The Australian was eventually stretchered off following some distressing scenes in which he struggled to regain his balance.

As the 90th minute approached, Stoke had the ball in the net. Shawcross volleyed in a knock-down by Huth from a corner, but the whistle had long since blown for a foul by the German defender on Collins.

Five minutes of added time were displayed and as they began Weimann was sent through on goal, but couldn't quite keep his footing as defenders caught up and robbed him of the ball.

Stoke had one last opportunity deep into added time to get the ball forward, but Villa dealt with the long pass and held on for a draw.

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