Aston Villa secure hard-earned point
Aston Villa edged closer to Barclays Premier League survival after collecting a hard-earned point from a goalless draw with West Brom at the Hawthorns.
But it needed a controversial refereeing decision by Mark Clattenburg to deny Albion victory after Villa defender Alan Hutton clearly used his arm to block a goal-bound header from Liam Ridgewell.
But Clattenburg and his assistant failed to spot the incident and the visitors survived to earn their 16th draw of the campaign. Alex McLeish's side deserved their share of the spoils on the balance of play and were again left to rue failing to be more clinical in front of goal
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Chris Herd and Charles N'Zogbia all failed to make the most of gilt-edged chances and Albion's Ben Foster was the busier of the two keepers.
Villa looked full of attacking intent in the early stages and N'Zogbia found Stephen Warnock in space but his shot was blocked by Billy Jones.
Albion nearly caught out Villa with their first serious counter-attack. Carlos Cuellar failed to make clean contact on his attempted clearance from Shane Long's cross-shot after a determined run by the Republic of Ireland striker. The loose ball broke to leading scorer Peter Odemwingie whose close-range back heel was blocked.
The first clearcut chance fell to Villa midfielder Chris Herd after 26 minutes. Richard Dunne showed good control to the right of Foster's goal before sending over a low cross which landed in Herd's path. His shot flew straight at Foster, who saved.
Agbonlahor, without a goal in 20 league games, then used his pace to get clear of the Baggies back four. But his touch was heavy inside the area and Foster was able to block his eventual shot. Foster blocked another shot from Agbonlahor with his feet.
Warnock became the first player to be yellow carded after 36 minutes for bringing down Long who needed treatment before being able to resume. Hutton followed Warnock into referee Mark Clattenburg's notebook after pulling back Jerome Thomas.
After the penalty appeal controversy, Foster again came to Albion's rescue when he blocked a fierce close range attempt from N'Zogbia after he was completely unmarked from Agbonlahor's accurate cross. Tempers were becoming frayed and Clark and Heskey were booked in quick succession.