The home side edged proceedings whilst the visitors had Shay Given to thank throughout in an even encounter as Martin Jol and Alex McLeish oversee first games in new rolesFulham and Aston Villa both had to be content with just a point after the two sides played out a goalless opening day draw at Craven Cottage.
The opening exchanges saw the home side come out on top but not before Charles N’Zogbia had his first chance to impress for Villa, delivering a lovely free-kick into the box however Richard Dunne failed to read the chance and the ball went out harmlessly for a throw.
The first effort on goal came after just 10 minutes when debutant John Arne Riise ran onto a through ball but he thundered his shot over the bar from just inside the penalty box.
The chances continued to come for Fulham with Damien Duff volleying wide on his weaker foot as the hosts continued to enjoy the better of the first half.
However, it was the away side who should have opened the scoring after a defensive lapse from Philippe Senderos.
A long ball from inside his own half from Stephen Warnock was left by the Swiss defender, which allowed Emile Heskey to nip in behind him but his chip-cum-shot was easily blocked by Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
The visitors had the ball in the back of the net after 22 minutes when Darren Bent ran onto Emile Heskey’s through ball but the England striker made his run too early and was a yard or two offside.
Heskey was causing mischief in the home side’s box again as he headed over from a Charles N’Zogbia cross.
Stalemate | Agbonlahor and Hughes battle for possession at Craven CottageThe best move of the half came from a move straight out of the training ground after Senderos had brought down Heskey around 40 yards out.
Stephen Warnock sent a delightful cross-field free-kick to N’Zogbia who was waiting patiently on the touchline. His cross was then headed over by James Collins – whose reaction suggested he should have done better.
Stiliyan Petrov had Schwarzer flying across his goal after he unleashed a drive that was always rising from around 25 yards out after Warnock teed him up from another well-worked free kick.
Given was called into action for the first time five minutes before the break, parrying Johnson’s shot after skilfully working his way into the box.
Bobby Zamora went close twice within the first five minutes of the second-half with a shot and a header which brought the best out of Shay Given on both occasions.
The home side’s strong start to the half continued and Villa were thankful for Dunne’s last-ditch challenge on Andrew Johnson when the striker was bearing down on goal - anything other than a great tackle would have resulted in either a goal or a penalty with the possibility of a sending off.
Given again come out on top against Zamora when one-on-one he could only shoot straight at the goalkeeper and almost immediately after that Johnson went through on goal but his weak effort fell comfortably into the Irishman’s hands.
Substitute Marc Albrighton had the Villa fans on his feet when they thought he had scored but he rifled his shot into the side netting.
The game ebbed and flowed with neither side getting themselves across the finishing line with a draw ultimately a fair result.