Wednesday 17 January 2018

Bent returns but can't inspire Villa

Aston Villa 0
Stoke city 0

John Curtis

Stoke's Ryan Shotton was controversially sent off in stoppage time in an instantly forgettable Premier League goalless draw at Aston Villa.

Defender Shotton was given his marching orders by referee Roger East for a second bookable offence, but replays showed he made no contact on Villa substitute Fabian Delph.

Villa striker Darren Bent made his return to action as the home side's youngsters stood up to the physical challenge presented by Stoke.

Bent made his first appearance for nearly six weeks midway through the second period, but was unable to inspire Villa to gain the three points.

Paul Lambert's side were well worthy of a share of the spoils, though, as they extended their unbeaten run to four games and edged further away from the relegation zone.

Villa's 'tiny tots' looked readymade for Stoke to impose their physical presence on them, but they passed the challenge with flying colours.

The back three of Chris Herd, Ciaran Clark and Nathan Baker coped admirably with the threat of Kenwyne Jones and then former Villa striker Peter Crouch.

Stoke will take heart from extending their unbeaten run to six games, from which they have collected 14 points, and they have now registered eight clean sheets this season.

Lambert brought on Bent and Stephen Ireland for Agbonlahor and Holman midway through the second half while Stoke replaced Matthew Etherington and Jones with Cameron Jerome and Crouch.

Shotton was yellow-carded after 75 minutes for a foul on Ireland, and then came his red card, although there was no time left for Villa to cash in.

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