Belfast Telegraph

Clinical Nathaniel Clyne salvages point for Southampton at Villa

Aston Villa 1 Southampton 1

By Nick Mashiter

Nathaniel Clyne rescued a point for Southampton as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa.

The England defender smashed in a late leveller just as Villa were ready to clinch a first win in eight games. Fraser Forster's clanger had gifted Gabby Agbonlahor the opener with the Saints rarely at their fluid best.

They dominated possession but failed to regularly test goalkeeper Brad Guzan while Villa were left to rue Andreas Weimann's glaring miss at 1-0.

The point did at least lift Villa, who are without a win in eight games, up to 16th in the Barclays Premier League while Southampton stay second.

The draw marked Paul Lambert's 100th game in charge of Villa and he recalled Ciaran Clark and Jores Okore - Villa's only two fit centre-backs - with Okore making his first appearance since suffering a serious knee injury in September 2013.

Alan Hutton was back after an ankle problem while Shane Long replaced the injured Steven Davis, out with a hamstring issue, in the Saints' only change.

Villa were reliant on Agbonlahor's pace, which worried Southampton, and the forward earned a free-kick after being tripped by Jose Fonte but Ashley Westwood wasted the chance.

But the striker's efforts paid off on 29 minutes when Villa opened the scoring. Lambert had joked he hoped his one-time Norwich loanee Forster would have a nightmare and the keeper obliged with a gift for Agbonlahor.

Clark's long clearance should have been easily dealt with but Forster rushed out with Fonte struggling - only for Agbonlahor to beat him to the ball and fire into the empty net.

At the other end, the Saints were yet to seriously test Guzan until he tipped Sadio Mane's curling effort around the post on 37 minutes.

Fonte then headed straight at the American as the visitors threatened to get out of second gear before the break.

They were almost 2-0 behind two minutes into the second half, though, when Ryan Bertrand hacked Charles N'Zogbia's goalbound effort away.

In their last home game Villa conceded twice in the final 10 minutes to lose 2-1 to Tottenham and nerves were justified, but Southampton's decision-making remained poor, their final ball loose as Villa continued to deny them. Both goalkeepers remained untroubled, even when Fonte's cross flashed across the Villa box.

Weimann then wasted a golden chance to make the game safe with 12 minutes left when he broke from Southampton's corner. The Austrian found Agbonlahor and when he received the return, blazed over.

And Villa paid the price when the Saints' levelled with nine minutes remaining. Bertrand got the better of Weimann and his cross was brilliantly dispatched by the on-rushing Clyne from 16 yards.

Aston Villa: Guzan, Hutton, Okore, Clark, Cissokho, Cleverley, Westwood, Sanchez (Bent 74), N'Zogbia (Richardson 64), Agbonlahor, Weimann. Subs Not Used: Bacuna, Cole, Given, Lowton, Grealish.

Booked: Okore.

Goals: Agbonlahor 29.

Southampton: Forster, Clyne, Fonte, Alderweireld, Bertrand, Wanyama, Schneiderlin, Tadic, Long (Cork 89), Mane (Mayuka 79), Pelle. Subs Not Used: K Davis, Yoshida, Gardos, Reed, Targett.

Booked: Wanyama,Clyne.

Goals: Clyne 81.

Attendance: 25,311

Man of the match: Ciaran Clark

Match rating: 7/10

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

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