A bore draw for the hosts in a match that saw chances at a premium but frustration all around as both sides came close to snatching all three points with goalkeepers in good formStoke City was held to a 0-0 draw with Aston Villa after Marc Wilson's effort in the second half crashed off the bar for the hosts as they remain hard to beat at home in the Premier League.
The home side came closest to opening the scoring, though Villa itself hit the post in the first half through Emile Heskey before Nathan Delfouneso found Thomas Sorensen in his way in the Stoke goal.
Stoke began in its usual dominant style in the air, pressing Villa early with a series of early corners and throw-ins, resulting in a header for Robert Huth that went over Brad Guzan’s bar.
The teams cancelled each other out for much of the opening 20 minutes, but the first real chance fell to Heskey, as his header hit the post from Charles N'Zogbia's corner.
There were some strong tackles flying in throughout the game, but there was no sinister edge to the match, with Ciaran Clark putting in a strong challenge on Dean Whitehead, but taking the ball cleanly.
Kenwyne Jones came close to opening the scoring late on in the half, chasing his own flick-on towards goal, but Guzan was out quickly to smother the ball at the striker's feet and keep it all square at half-time.
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Alex McLeish was forced into a substitution at halftime as Heskey suffered a recurrence of an Achilles injury, with Nathan Delfouneso his replacement.
There was almost an instant impact for the starlet, as he won a flick on before Agbonlahor turned Shawcross and sprinted for goal. The pacey striker crossed for Delfouneso, but his effort on the slide was well stopped by Thomas Sorensen.
Huth again had a chance from a header, but this time Richard Dunne did just enough to put him off and again the ball flew over the bar.
With just over 20 minutes to go, Wilson came as close as either side had done to finding the back of the net, meeting Etherington's corner with a header that crashed off the underside of the bar and onto the chest of Agbonlahor, who just managed to keep the ball from crossing the line.
Stoke continued its aerial siege on the Villa goal, but was susceptible to the counter attack and had to be wary of players such as N'Zogbia, Albrighton, Agbonlahor and Delfouneso, who could all break at pace.
N'Zogbia came close for Villa, though it was due to the fact that Sorensen spilled his soft free kick, although it fell straight to a defender, luckily for the Danish goalkeeper.
The match started to get a bit of pace about it as both teams started to push for a goal in the latter stages, but it seemed that they were all happy to settle for a Boxing Day draw.