This afternoon’s home tie was slow to start and neither side had many real chances in the first half as Villa missed Agbonlahor’s pace, which would have been a great weapon against the ageing Fulham defence.
Once they settled in to the game, Villa enjoyed a good spell in the opposition’s box and, 34 minutes in, looked set to open the scoring but the ball seemed to come off Benteke’s heel as he volleyed Weimann’s cross over the bar. Villa continued pressing and N’Zogbia, who started in place of the injured Agbonlahor, soon forced a sound reaction save from Schwarzer.
Berbatov then had a chance to put the visitors ahead but his side-footed shot, from 12 yards out, was uncharacteristically tame and went wide, much to the relief of those of a claret and blue persuasion.
As the clock ticked towards half-time, N’Zogbia forced another decent save from Schwarzer but he appeared to be offside in any case.
After the restart, an early chance for Weimann went begging and it began to look like Berbatov was having a bad day at the office when his shot shaved the post in the 49th minute.
Six minutes later, Berbatov and his team-mates were no doubt regretting that near miss when Weimann crossed the ball in for N’Zogbia inside the area. Zoggy’s curling shot was measured perfectly and the ball wound its way into the corner of the net, beyond Schwarzer’s reach.
That lead was to last only eleven minutes. Baker, deservedly voted today’s official man of the match, conceded a corner and Ruiz clipped the ball to the near post. Attempting to head clear, Delph managed to head the ball over the line, despite Westwood’s valiant efforts to clear it.
Following Lambert’s (now customary) questionable substitutions, Berbatov set up a golden opportunity for one of the visiting side’s subs, Petric, but Lowton did just enough to put him off and tragedy was averted.
After Benteke wasted another fine cross from Weimann, the ball broke to Delph, opening the door to redemption. However, he shot high from his wide position and the score remained 1-1.
Overall, a cruel moment for an otherwise decent Delph proved the difference between 1 point and three of them today. Despite Lambert’s positivity in calling the draw ‘a massive point’, he’ll no doubt be as disappointed as the rest of us about the manner in which that draw came about.