West Brom 0-0 Aston Villa: Derby ends in dull stalemate
By Andrew Dickson
Last Updated: 23/01/16 7:28pm
Aston Villa remain nine points from safety after they were held 0-0 in their Midlands derby at West Brom.
The teams could muster only one shot on target between them - Jordan Ayew's low effort for Villa which was palmed away by Ben Foster - in an uninspiring first half.
Remi Garde's men improved after the break and looked the more likely to score, with substitute Rudy Gestede putting their best chance just wide with a header.
West Brom - only seven points clear of the bottom three - hung on for a point which was barely deserved and though Villa continued their mini-revival to make it five games unbeaten in all competitions - including three in the Premier League - their survival prospects remain gloomy.
Villa arrived at The Hawthorns looking to avoid losing both league games against West Brom in a season for the first time since 1974 - but were ultimately able to do that as much because of their opponents' lacklustre approach as due to their own endeavours.
Garde's team began brightest without creating much and West Brom slowly eased into the game, with Stephane Sessegnon eventually forcing Joleon Lescott into a good tackle to keep him at bay.
Ayew then went close with an attempt Foster had to get down smartly for and was then denied a penalty despite Jonas Olsson' seeming to make contact in a slack challenge.
Nevertheless, referee Bobby Madley refused to away anything and normal service soon resumed, with both teams guilty of really poor deliveries at set pieces.
Away captain Micah Richards was lucky to stay on the park for his careless lunge on Claudio Yacob which eventually drew a yellow card from referee Bobby Madley rather than a red.
Villa picked up in the second half but only after a brief rally from West Brom, who wasted openings through Craig Dawson, Sessegnon and Salomon Rondon.
Gestede was one of three substitutes introduced with a quarter of the game to go - the others being West Brom's Saido Berahino and Victor Anichebe - and he almost made the most impact.
He sent a header wide then did the same with another attempt before going off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
Villa laid siege to the home goal but Ayew could not convert, Foster saved from Ashley Westwood then Idrissa Gana and Leandro Bacuna sent good chances from long range off target.
In the end, they took a point when they perhaps merited all three and after Sunderland also drew with Bournemouth, they remain six points adrift at the foot of the standings and 10 - their poor goal difference considered - off safety with 15 matches left.
Matt Le Tissier's Soccer Saturday verdict
"That was the hardest game I've had to watch all season. There didn't seem to be any ambition from either side to push enough men forward to actually cause any kind of panic in the opposition box. Villa were the more dangerous team. For West Brom, to have four attempts on goal at home in a local derby and none on target was absolutely shocking.
"They didn't show any ambition, nobody was really getting anywhere near Rondon to get any support up there, there was a serious lack of creativity in the West Brom side.
"Villa were marginally better, Westwood had a couple of strikes which tested Ben Foster but it was a very poor game. Berahino came on for the last 20 minutes for West Brom and did absolutely nothing. Aston Villa were the better team but still don't create enough clear cut chances to win any football matches."
West Brom: Foster (6), Olsson (6), Yacob (6), Evans (6), Gardner (6), McClean (5), McAuley (5), Fletcher (5), Dawson (6), Sessegnon (5), Rondon (5)
Subs used: Berahino (4), Anichebe (3), McManaman (2)
Aston Villa: Bunn (6), Richards (6), Okore (5), Lescott (6), Cissokho (5), Bacuna (5), Gana (5), Westwood (6), Gil (7), Ayew (6), Kozak (6)
Subs used: Gestede, Veretout
Man of the match: Carles Gil