Stalemate ‘reasonable’ for O’Neill

Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill admitted his side did not do

enough to warrant victory against Stoke at a windy Britannia


In a match of few opportunities, Stewart Downing’s shot which

inadvertently deflected off Villa team-mate John Carew but hit the

side-netting with goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen wrong-footed and Stoke

defender Robert Huth’s late header over the top were probably the

best for both sides.

A point each was really all they deserved, which was more

helpful in solidifying Stoke’s mid-table position than it was for

Villa’s top-four aspirations.

“We would love to have won the game but it was never going to

be easy,” said O’Neill.

“Stoke are always very difficult, so maybe it was a

reasonable outcome.

“There weren’t many chances in the game and the wind didn’t

help matters.

“It was a tough afternoon. We defended very stoutly indeed

and the game didn’t have that many clear-cut chances.

“At the end of the day a draw was probably a fair result.”

Stoke have lost just once at home since the turn of the year

– to Arsenal – and have had only two defeats at the Britannia since

September 26.

Potters boss Tony Pulis praised his side for their work-rate

after a third match in a week.

“It was a very windy day and I thought the teams were very

honest and committed,” he said.

“When it blows you it is ever so difficult. You think it is

windy and cold up in that [main] stand but you get down by that

pitch and it is very blustery.

“We’ve had a very busy period and a three-game week and when

you catch a top team in your third game, it is always very

difficult – especially when they haven’t played in midweek.

“However, I thought we got stronger as the game wore on and

in the last 30 minutes we were the stronger team and were the ones

pushing forward and had the better opportunities.”

Pulis made a surprise double substitution early in the second

half, removing crowd favourite Tuncay Sanli and Mamady Sidibe to

send on a completely new front two of Ricardo Fuller and Dave


Turkey international Tuncay showed his frustration after

being withdrawn but Pulis said that did not bother him.

“He’s a great lad but it makes no difference to me what names

they are or what they have or haven’t got,” added the Potters boss.

“It is all about the team for me, which is more important

than any individual.

“I’ve never changed my philosophy and that’s the way it will

always be for me.”