Paul Lambert’s Lions were bussed into battle with Steve Bruce’s Tigers, as they went hunting for a third consecutive league win for the first time since April 2010. However, this afternoon’s big cats’ battle at the KC Stadium turned out to be a rather tame, and drab, affair.
With Agbonlahor and Westwood deemed fit enough to return to the starting line-up, Lambert made room for them. The inclusion of the pair saw the only two changes to the side that had beaten Manchester City last Saturday.
On paper, Lambert’s 4-3-3 formation looked full of attacking promise but the reality was that chances were few and far between for the visiting Villans, who really missed Benteke’s firepower today.
After fourteen minutes, the home side had a chance to score when Graham found Quinn in the box but Bacuna slid in to clear the ball for a corner.
Four minutes later, the hosts had another opportunity to open the scoring as Elmohamady crossed the ball in to Graham but Vlaar did enough to divert the chancy cross.
Villa played some neat football and Agbonlahor soon surged past two defenders and struck from twenty yards out, only for McGregor to tip the ball around the post. It proved to be the only time that Villa troubled the Scottish keeper in the first half.
Referee Clattenburg handed out a trio of cards before the break, booking Rosenior, Westwood and former Villan Davies in quick succession.
On the verge of half-time, the hazardous Huddlestone shot from twenty-five yards but he aimed straight at Guzan, who had no trouble dealing with the shot.
After fans queued for non-existent food and the stadium announcer reminded everyone how grim the first half had been, the players returned to the pitch.
Claret and blue hopes were high as Agbonlahor latched onto a clever cross from Weimann but Villa’s number 11, looking far from his best, shot wide.
Vlaar cleared an Aluko corner that was intended for Graham just ahead of the goal-line before El Ahmadi’s shot from outside the box was caught by McGregor.
Undeterred, the Moroccan soon shot again and this time the ball was deflected out for a corner.
With twenty minutes left on the clock, hoping to offer Villa the missing magic, Lambert replaced Agbonlahor and Westwood with Bowery and Tonev but neither of the pair were able to trigger a triumphant goal.
Speaking in his post-match interview, Lambert remained upbeat, saying, “I never thought we were going to win it but, equally, I never thought we were going to lose. Any point in this league you grasp.”
For those looking for positives ahead of the international break, another clean sheet was welcome, as was the point, the defence seems to be gelling and the Lions remain unbeaten by the Tigers in the Premier League era.