Aston Villa 0 Sunderland 0

by James, Junior Black Cats reporter

Black Cats play out stalemate with the Villans.

Sunderland got their first away point under Gus Poyet in a nervy affair at Villa Park which saw the Black Cats have the best chances in a 0-0 draw with Aston Villa.

Poyet made three changes to the side that lost 2-0 at Stoke City, with Andrea Dossena, Craig Gardner and Fabio Borini all making the starting line-up.

Ondrej Celustka, Adam Johnson and Jack Colback, meanwhile, found themselves on the bench.

Aston Villa and Gabby Agbonlahor, in particular, made a bright start to the game.

The England international headed wide from a Fabian Delph cross from the right early on before seeing his shot from the edge of the box saved by Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone.

The Black Cats responded, though, through a chance of their own as good play by Steven Fletcher saw the Scot unleash Dossena on the left wing. The Italian had more time then he realised and his shot from the left hand side of the box hit Brad Guzan’s side netting.

Sunderland threatened the Villa goal shortly afterwards, this time through a Seb Larsson free kick. Tricky Italian Emanuele Giaccherini was fouled on the left corner of the box, a similar position to where Dossena had shot from minutes earlier. The Swede took the in-swinging free kick and the ball whipped agonizingly close to Guzan’s far post as Sunderland looked to pile the pressure onto their hosts.

Gardner did have the ball in the back of the net shortly before half time, but his sweetly struck left footed shot from the edge of the area was ruled out correctly as the former Villa man had strayed offside.

Some extended pressure by the Lads resulted into two corner kicks being won in a matter of moments. The latter was played short to Ki, who sent the ball toward the far post and Phil Bardsley, who scored a late winner in this fixture under Steve Bruce’s tenure at the club, headed the ball back across goal towards Giaccherini but when the former Juventus man looked a certainty to score he lifted the ball over the bar, making the half time score 0-0.

The home side only managed to have one clear chance to score in the second half and, once again, it fell to the pacey Agbonlahor. The striker nipped past Dossena on the right before cutting inside, his shot, however, was not powerful enough to beat Mannone at his near post.

Sunderland then came within a grasp of grabbing all three points late on as Giaccherini’s in-swinging cross from the left was met by Fabio Borini, who was about eight yards out, at the near post. The Italian’s powerful header looped past the helpless Guzan only to crash against the bar and back out.

This proved to be the last chance in a game which Sunderland dominated and needed to come out with all three points. However, a clean sheet and a point away from home are always welcome.