Belfast Telegraph

Lambert hails Villa resolve

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert praised the resolve of his players after they ended a six-match Barclays Premier League losing streak with a battling goalless draw at West Ham.

Since beating Liverpool at Anfield in mid-September, Lambert's men have plummeted down the table.

During that run, Villa saw some positive performances fail to return points, but that was not the case at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday, where goalkeeper Brad Guzan capped a superb rearguard display with a stunning save in stoppage-time to keep out a point-blank header from Andy Carroll, who was making his first appearance of the season following ankle surgery.

"It is a great point. To come to a ground where West Ham have been playing really well - they have beaten Manchester City and Liverpool not so long ago - to play as we did and be resolute I thought was first-class," said Lambert.

"We spoke all week that balls were going to be on top of us and we had to deal with it. I thought they coped fantastically well.

"In the second half I thought we were comfortable apart from the last five minutes or so when Andy Carroll comes on and there was (Diafra) Sakho up there and Carlton Cole - three big guys.

"We we are not the biggest of teams, but they put their bodies on the line."

American goalkeeper Guzan had produced a couple of good reaction stops before saving his best for the dying stages, when Villa were under siege from an aerial bombardment.

"That is what he's paid for - and he is over-paid," said Lambert.

"To be fair, his save at the end was top class, and he is a great guy and a top pro. I am delighted for him."

Villa had do to without Belgian forward Christian Benteke, who started a three-match ban following his red card at Tottenham.

However, the visitors did offer some threat on the counter, through Andreas Weimann, Charles N'Zogbia and Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Lambert added: "We have had an horrendous run of fixtures, that has made it tough, hopefully now we can pick things up."

West Ham, meanwhile, had been looking to build on some superb home form, but having just beaten the champions, manager Sam Allardyce did call for patience both on and off the field.

However, despite plenty of possession, the Irons, who had Sakho fit again after a shoulder injury, were for once unable to find a killer touch in the final third.

Allardyce, though, was not about to criticise his team's work-rate.

"It was a terrific effort that we gave. When we lulled a little bit in the second half the changes we made gave us that exciting all-important finish and our fans the chance to see another win here," he said.

"The sad thing that when our finishing was good the goalkeeper was even better. We have got to respect the point and it's our second clean sheet, which is good.

"Aston Villa are a frustrating team to break down, but we broke them down several times apart from the keeper.

"It was nearly a fantastic end to the game and we are very disappointed we didn't get the three points."

Alladryce felt West Ham mixed things up well during the closing stages, when they threw the proverbial kitchen sink at what was a dogged Villa rearguard action.

"With Andy Carroll, Sakho and Coley coming in on those crosses you could see how exciting it was getting the fans when they were getting up and heading that ball at goal," the Irons boss said.

"People forget how exciting crossing and heading the ball in the back of the net is these days.

"It's still a great thrill to see. Sadly we didn't see it in the back of the net today."

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