Fulham claimed their first Premiership away point in almost three moments after holding Aston Villa to a drab draw and increased the pressure on beleaguered Villa boss David O’Leary.
The final whistle saw Villa booed off the field as they failed to add to their of four home wins this season. There were small chants of ‘O’Leary out!’ than never reached the crescendo seen after the 4-1 defeat at the hands of Everton last weekend, but seems clear that the tide has turned against the Irish manager.
The home side did carry the greater threat in the first period, with Kevin Phillips looking particularly threatening, but they couldn’t back down a Fulham side who have conceded some 34 away goals this season. The recalled Lee Hendrie – a regular scorer against the Whites – went closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half, firing just over from an acute angle. Luke Moore curled an effort wide having surged away from Ian Pearce before Mark Crossley blocked from Grant McCann and Zat Knight scrambled the follow-up off the line and Moritz Volz threw himself in front of Gareth Barry’s drive.
Steed Malbranque missed Fulham’s clearest opening of the first period after the visitors were denied an early penalty when Luke Moore appeared to have handled a Mark Pembridge cross and the Frenchman midfielder should have put them in front two minutes after the interval. He volleyed off target when unmarked twelve yards out after Brian McBride and Collins John had helped on a long punt forward by Crossley.
Fulham had the better of the second period with Sorensen saving twice from the unfortunate Malbranque in the closing stages, with the home fans streaming out of Villa Park long before the end. They tested Crossley only once in the second half, but the Welsh goalkeeper was easily able to block Steven Davis’s shot from Wilfred Bouma’s ball in.
ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Sorensen; De la Cruz, Hughes, Ridgewell, Bouma,Hendrie (Agbonlahor 58), McCann, Davis, Barry; Phillips, Moore (Angel 73). Subs (not used): Taylor, Cahill, Gardner.
FULHAM (4-4-2): Crossley, Volz, Rosenior, Knight, Pearce; Pembridge, Brown, Malbranque, Boa Morte; McBride, John (Radzinski 62). Subs (not used): Warner, Goma, Christanval, N. Jensen.
REFEREE: Lee Mason (Lancashire).
Ref: L Mason (Lancashire).