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Aston Villa play to frustrating draw against Fulham, stay 16th

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Charles N'Zogbia's curled finish put Villa ahead five minutes shy of the hour mark, but an unlucky own goal from Fabian Delph just ten minutes later gave Fulham a draw on a day of wasted chances.

Shaun Botterill

Aston Villa put in the kind of performance needed to claim three points against Fulham, but a combination of wasted chances and an unlucky glancing header from Fabian Delph that ended up in his own net conspired to ensure that they would be forced to make do with a draw. The majority of Villa's letdowns came in a first half that the home side dominated, with chance after chance going begging and the teams somehow heading to the break scoreless. Charles N'Zogbia put Villa ahead ten minutes into the second half with a wonderful curled strike from the right side of the box, but Delph's own goal canceled after another ten minutes and Fulham weathered quite the storm at the end to preserve the 1-1.

That Fulham's goal was scored by Delph is really something of a cruel irony, as the Villa midfielder put in a generally excellent shift on the day as he continues to blossom into the player Villa fans have been hoping he would become for several years. In fact, it's though to single out any Villa player as having a poor performance; Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann were perhaps below their normal standard, but they were still involved in plenty of nice attacking moves. The Villa backline was strong and did enough to earn the clean sheet, including Joe Bennett who has arguably been Villa's most improved regular over the past few months. This was just one of those days, and unfortunately Villa can't afford many of those at this point in time.

This result is very different from many of the other games in which they've dropped points this season. In many of those games, Villa never really felt as though they deserved their lead, and when they inevitably conceded it was of course disappointing, but also felt on some kind of grim level as though it were just. In this game, Villa deserved their (briefly held) lead, and it probably should have been larger. Fulham's goal involved a significant amount of bad luck, and when the final whistle blew it was very difficult to understand how Villa hadn't managed to win. Is that preferable to the way these games went earlier in the season? Probably. But the result is still the same, and with every point of vital importance, it's not something Villa can afford to allow again.