Plucky Palace hold Villa

Date published: Monday 24th August 2015 1:38

Plucky Palace hold Villa

The 53-year-old is expected to become the new Palace boss after the Eagles agreed compensation with Newcastle for their former midfielder.
He watched Yannick Bolasie come closest to handing the visitors a precious three points in their battle against the drop, but his shot cannoned against the crossbar.
Villa also had chances as Alan Hutton and a Leandro Bacuna free-kick tested Julian Speroni, while Christian Benteke missed a golden opportunity to grab victory.
The result continued Villa’s worries in front of goal – Paul Lambert’s side having scored just 11 times in 20 games – but Pardew would have been pleased by Palace’s gritty outing.
Palace remain the the relegation zone – a point from safety – while Villa moved up to 12th, five points clear of their opponents.
Villa started brightly and Benteke forced Speroni into a low save inside the first minute and the returning Gabriel Agbonlahor then skied over.
The hosts pinned Palace back and only a fine save from Speroni denied Hutton from point blank range after Aly Cissokho cashed in on Adrian Mariappa’s indecision.
But Villa suffered a blow after 15 minutes when skipper Ron Vlaar limped off with a suspected calf injury and was replaced by Ciaran Clark.
And the visitors should have gone ahead after a minute later when Bolasie blew a golden chance.
The midfielder capitalised on a lucky break of the ball to run the length of the Villa half, leaving Clark for dead, but only managed to smash the bar with just ‘keeper Brad Guzan to beat.
It was the last flashpoint of a dour half though with the teams cancelling each other out. Both lacked the creativity and nous to raise the tempo of a game played at pedestrian pace.
Palace had scored just two goals in six matches while Villa had netted just once in their last four outings prior to the game, so the half-time stalemate was no surprise.
Tom Cleverley’s shot was deflected wide after Villa were jeered off at the break and Benteke planted a header wide as they tried to inject some much-needed excitement in the second half.
Cissokho then produced a vital tackle on James McArthur on the hour as the sides continued to cancel each other out.
But Benteke should have made it 1-0 with 19 minutes left when he arrowed a 12-yard effort over the bar after collecting Carlos Sanchez’s pass.
It summed up the game and Speroni punched Bacuna’s free kick away with four minutes left in the final lacklustre action.
Player ratings
Aston Villa: Guzan (6) Hutton (7) Vlaar (4) Okore (6) Cissokho (5) Cleverley (6) Sanchez (8) Bacuna (5) Agbonlahor (6) Benteke (6) Weimann (6).
Subs: Clark (7) Cole (4) Grealish (5).
Crystal Palace: Speroni (6) Mariappa (6) Dann (7) Delaney (6) Ward (7) McArthur (6) Kelly (6) Ledley (7) Puncheon (7) Zaha (5) Bolasie (7).
Subs: Gayle (6) Bannan (4).
Man of the match: Carlos Sanchez (Aston Villa).

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