Fulham and Villa draw Blanks
Written By: Robert Halter
The start of the 2011/2012 Premier League season marked two new managers at the helm after former Spurs and Ajax manager Martin Jol guided Fulham into action against Aston Villa, whose controversial appointment of Alex McLeish from bitter rivals Birmingham City, had initially created a fans protest from the Villans supporters but with the summer signings of experienced shot stopper Shay Given and play maker Charles N’ Zogbia, the dust had now settled. For the Cottagers, John Arne Riise had joined the ranks and made the home start at Craven Cottage. Arne Riise could have got off the mark on ten minutes but blazed over the top with a clear sight of goal, after being put clean through by Whites captain Danny Murphy. Four minutes later, Damien Duff tried trickery from long range but put the ball over. Villa’s Darren Bent had a goal ruled offside midway through the first half, after Emile Heskey’s through ball was unable to beat the trap. A fierce long range strike by Villa’s captain Stiliyan Petrov narrowly cleared the Whites’ crossbar, six minutes before the break after Stephen Warnock had laid the ball off from a free kick, following Philippe Senderos’s foul on Bent. But it was a strong block by Given that kept out Andrew Johnson’s well struck shot moments later, after he cut inside and brushed past James Collins. Duff unleashed an effort from outside the box as the first forty five minutes drew to a close. Another incisive save by Given using one handed agility, stopped Bobby Zamora’s shot from close range, following Johnson’s knock down from Duff’s ball in, after just a minute of the re-start. On sixty three minutes, it was Given’s outstretched leg that prevented Zamora from scoring this time round, after a long looping ball forward by Murphy. Villa pressed six minutes later as Mark Schwarzer was forced into a save to stop Warnock’s dangerous cross. The Villans best move of the match was put wide by Marc Albrighton, after Gabriel Agbonlahor and then Bent combined to open up the Whites defence, with seventy four minutes played. But there was no breakthrough for either side as Fulham and Aston Villa had to settle for a point apiece following a goalless draw.