Aston Villa 1 Stoke 1
Stoke defender Robert Huth scored for the second time in three days to earn his side a point in their Barclays Premier League clash at Aston Villa.
Huth netted his side’s first goal when they came from behind to defeat Wolves on Saturday and made another telling contribution against Alex McLeish’s side at Villa Park.
The former Chelsea player’s 71st-minute header cancelled out a stunning strike from Villa striker Andreas Weimann which had broken the deadlock.
A draw was a fair result from a game which seldom reached any great heights, although McLeish will be annoyed to have conceded yet another goal from a set-piece – the 21st of the campaign.
Villa, missing seven senior players through illness or injury, edged further away from the bottom three and can look at a satisfactory Easter after also sharing the spoils with Liverpool.
Stoke, despite playing their 51st game of the season – 16 more than Villa - still showed their ultra competitive edge in securing a hard-earned point.
The hosts made a purposeful start, Weimann find Stephen Ireland in space inside the Stoke box early on but he elected not to shoot and Potters defender Marc Wilson cut out his pass intended for Barry Bannan.
Villa midfielder Stephen Warnock became the first player to be booked after eight minutes for a late challenge on Ryan Shotton.
The first noteworthy attempt on goal came from Villa defender James Collins, who climbed at the far post to meet an inswinging Bannan corner, but the Wales’ international’s downward header did not overly trouble Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.
Shay Given comfortably dealt with a header by Rory Delap from a Matthew Etherington cross, but after 32 minutes a superb finish from Weimann put Villa in front.
The Austrian exchanged passes with Ireland on the edge of the Stoke box before curling a 20-yard drive past Begovic into the top corner of the net.
It was his second senior goal since announcing his arrival on the Premier League scene last month with a last-gasp winner against Fulham.
Jonathan Walters was relieved to deflect a ball back across the box from Bannan over his own bar following a deep cross from Warnock.
Left-back Eric Lichaj became the second Villa player to be yellow-carded after 39 minutes for bringing down Delap.
Stoke enjoyed a spell of possession towards the interval with Wilson Palacios having a shot deflected wide and Huth heading past the post from an Etherington corner.
The Potters started the second period on the offensive with a series of trademark long throws.
Huth got on the end of an Etherington corner but Collins did enough to put him off as he directed his header wide.
Gabriel Agbonlahor had a good chance to double Villa’s lead after 55 minutes when he raced onto a pass from Bannan but he shot across the face of goal.
Villa were forced into a change after 59 minutes when Warnock was unable to continue after landing awkwardly on his ankle, and he was replaced by Gary Gardner.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis made a double change after 62 minutes with former Villa striker Peter Crouch and Jermaine Pennant replacing Kenwyne Jones and Etherington respectively.
And, with 19 minutes remaining, Huth put Stoke back on level terms.
Pennant was brought down by Gardner and took the free-kick to the right of the Villa box himself. Huth was the first to react and climbed above Collins to head home.
Villa midfielder Chris Herd was carried off on a stretcher with a head injury after lengthy treatment following a clash with Huth and replaced by Emile Heskey.
Stoke looked like they had snatched a late winner when Ryan Shawcross fired home after Huth had headed a Pennant corner back across the box, but referee Mike Dean had spotted an infringement.