It was not the victory that would have put to bed any relegation fears but this hard-fought point, on an afternoon when Alex McLeish unusually spent almost the entire match glued to his seat, could prove to be invaluable for Aston Villa. With two matches remaining, Villa sit three points above the bottom three, and although Bolton and Queens Park Rangers both have a game in hand, both clubs have an inferior goal difference, which could be crucial.
It certainly could have been worse for Villa here. Shay Given made a superb save in the 90th minute to keep out Peter Odemwingie's volley while Alan Hutton was lucky not to receive a red card and concede a penalty after he handled Liam Ridgewell's header.
Villa should have scored at the other end but a combination of Ben Foster's fine goalkeeping and the absence of a cutting edge in front of goal, which has been so badly lacking all season, left them frustrated.
Although Albion threatened first through Odemwingie, whose backheel was saved by Given in the ninth minute, Villa looked the more dangerous side before the interval and created three decent chances.
Chris Herd saw his first-time shot parried by Foster after good work from Richard Dunne and Gabriel Agbonlahor wasted two inviting opportunities, overrunning the ball on the first occasion after sprinting clear and shooting too close to the Albion keeper on the second.
Fortune, however, was favouring Villa four minutes into the second half, when Hutton clearly stuck out his arm to block Ridgewell's header from Graham Dorrans's corner. Several Albion players surrounded the referee, Mark Clattenburg, but the referee signalled for a corner rather than a penalty.
Charles N'Zogbia's crisp shot was stopped by Foster at the other end although Villa endured an anxious moment when Carlos Cuéllar headed Odemwingie's shot off the line and another in stoppage time, when Given kept out the Albion striker's shot.
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