Lambert unfazed as lowest gate in 15 years see Villa draw

Lambert unfazed as lowest gate in 15 years see Villa draw

Boss Paul Lambert defended Aston Villa’s fans after their lowest league gate for 15 years.

Just 25,311 watched Villa hold Southampton to a 1-1 draw at Villa Park, where Gabby Agbonlahor’s opener – following Fraser Forster’s gaffe – was cancelled out by Nathaniel Clyne.

It was the lowest crowd in the Premier League at Villa Park since a 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday in 1999, when just 23,885 turned up.

But Lambert insisted the Villa Park faithful have always given him their backing.

“People paid hard-earned money and they are still getting behind you, that’s what this team needs, he said.

“They have been great, I’ve got nothing but compliments for the supporters here. It’s a massive football club with massive expectancy levels and like you said it was cold and on Sky.

“I thought we were excellent in spells of the game and there were massive pluses. (Alan) Hutton was excellent and the two centre-backs were outstanding. (Jores) Okore has not played in 14 months and he was outstanding, Ciaran (Clark) took the lead and helped him, and Gabby was a threat the whole night.”

Lambert confirmed Ron Vlaar and Philippe Senderos will be out for Saturday’s trip to Burnley with their calf injuries.

Nathan Baker also remains sidelined with his knee injury.

He said: “We had six players out, three centre-backs, (Christian) Benteke, (Fabian) Delph and (Libor) Kozak which is half a team. It’s a big point, they are a good side.

“You have to give credit where credit’s due. We got at them and it paid off with Gabby’s speed.”

Agbonlahor scored with Villa’s only shot on target, cashing in on Forster’s rush of blood when he came to clear Clark’s clearance and missed.

Villa are still winless in eight games, despite the point, although Lambert felt they could have won after Andi Weimann missed a fine chance before Clyne’s 81st-minute equaliser.

He added: “We should have been 2-0 up, I thought Andi should have scored when Gabby cuts it back and he hits it over the bar.

“He’s scored important goals for us so I’m not going to let one chance change what I think of him.”

The draw left Southampton six points behind leaders Chelsea and boss Ronald Koeman refused to blame Forster.

He said: “He is a great goalkeeper and that doesn’t change after this mistake.

“It doesn’t usually go against us and it was a misunderstanding. He came out, stopped and if you stop you are too late.

“He is clever enough to understand that kind of mistake.

“We deserve the goal and we had the patience in the second half. We knew they would defend and keep their organisation.

“It was late but well deserved. We played more football than they did. Every game in the Premier League is difficult and they were missing some key players and in a difficult situation. Maybe that’s more dangerous than normal.”

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