Villa end losing streak with fortunate Swansea draw
Published 28/12/2013 | 17:02
Aston Villa ended their losing run but there was little respite for under-fire manager Paul Lambert as they ground out a 1-1 draw with Swansea.
It was a meeting of two out-of-form teams, with Villa having lost their previous four matches while Swansea were without a win in five.
The hosts scored in the first half at Villa Park for the first time this Barclays Premier League season through Gabriel Agbonlahor in the seventh minute but Swansea piled on the pressure and got their reward when Roland Lamah equalised eight minutes before half-time.
The Welsh side dominated the second half but were unable to find a winner.
Swansea boss Michael Laudrup made seven changes from the defeat by Chelsea on Boxing Day, while Villa had midfielder Ashley Westwood back after suspension.
The hosts had left the field to jeers after losing at home to Crystal Palace on Thursday but they began positively, pressing high up the pitch and wasting no time breaking forward.
They got their reward after seven minutes as Andreas Weimann picked up the ball on the right and played in Agbonlahor, who exploited dreadful positioning by the Swansea defence and found himself all alone on the edge of the penalty area.
The striker hesitated but then showed good composure to place the ball under Gerhard Tremmel.
It was just what Villa needed, but as the half wore on Swansea became more and more dominant.
Their first chance came in the 17th minute when Pablo Hernandez cut inside and tested Brad Guzan, who initially spilled the ball but quickly gathered it.
Three minutes later the visitors should have been level but Ben Davies headed the ball into the ground and over the bar from six yards when he was picked out by Jonathan De Guzman's corner.
Villa threatened sporadically but their periods of possession were fleeting and the pressure continued to grow at the other end.
The visiting fans celebrated erroneously when Antonio Luna's poor clearance fell to De Guzman on the edge of the area and he flashed a shot just wide.
But two minutes later Swansea were level, Jonjo Shelvey picking out the lively Hernandez on the left and his cross was headed in at the back post by Lamah.
Guzan got an arm to the header but could not keep it out.
The home fans again expressed their disgruntlement at the half-time whistle, and the pattern continued at the start of the second half.
Guzan was called into action again in the 52nd minute, tipping over De Guzman's free-kick, before Wilfried Bony fired well over the bar.
Shelvey was the next to try his luck but his shot was blocked five yards out by Luna and Bony was unable to get to the rebound.
The worry for the visitors was they were not testing Guzan nearly enough and there was always the danger that Villa could hit them on the break.
Agbonlahor at least tried a shot at goal for the hosts in the 71st minute but it was from 25 yards and flew well over the bar.
A goal appeared much more likely at the other end, and Villa did well to block Bony's dangerous shot before Shelvey's cross just evaded two Swansea players.
Lambert sent on Karim El Ahmadi, Libor Kozak and Marc Albrighton in a bid to give Villa more attacking impetus but they were struggling to string two passes together.
Fabian Delph, one bright spot for Villa this season, tested Tremmel with a well-struck shot but it was straight at the Swansea keeper.
That turned out to be the final chance and there were again boos as referee Roger East blew the final whistle.