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
“There weren’t many chances in the game and the wind didn’t
“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
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being withdrawn but Pulis said that did not bother him.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.”