Hull and Villa share spoils
Hull City and Aston Villa were forced to share the spoils in a goalless draw at the KC Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday.
It is a result that should go down relatively well in both camps, with each side heading into the international break unbeaten in three Premier League matches and arguably ahead of their own schedules.
For Villa, the formidable figure of Christian Benteke was a huge miss, while Hull were without four-goal top-scorer Robbie Brady (hernia) for the first time this season.
Gabriel Agbonlahor did his best to make up for Benteke's absence but missed a fine chance to score early in the second half after Andreas Weimann's cut-back left him with an inviting shot.
The Tigers, meanwhile, did not force Brad Guzan into a single save as Danny Graham's lengthy goal drought showed little sign of ending.
Agbonlahor looked lively from the start, using his pace to find gaps and sending a snap-shot wide from 20 yards.
Hull quickly decided the right wing was the their likeliest route to goal, with Ahmed Elmohamady the outlet.
In the 15th minute the Egyptian linked with Sone Aluko, whose deft reverse pass gave Graham the chance to cross for the advancing Stephen Quinn. Graham picked the right ball but Leandro Bacuna did well the bundle it out for a corner.
Graham found himself on the end of similar cross from Elmohamady soon after, but he could not muster a clean connection from close range.
Indeed it was Hull's Allan McGregor who made the first save of the day, getting down well to claw a skiddy Agbonlahor effort wide.
While two yellow cards in quick succession energised the fans, neither side did much to threaten again before the break.
Immediately after the break Hull reverted to their earlier plan of allowing Elmohamady to attack Antonio Luna down the right.
He responded with a pair of teasing crosses toward Graham though both were dealt with by Ron Vlaar and Guzan.
It took 53 minutes for Weimann to impose himself on the game but when he finally put his pace to good use he turned a near lost cause into an effective cut-back for Agbonlahor.
The striker took a touch before pulling the trigger but missed the target by a
yard at the far post.
With a little over 20 minutes to play, Steve Bruce replaced Aluko and Quinn with Yannick Sagbo and George Boyd.
Within seconds both new arrivals were involved in arguably Hull's best move yet.
Boyd released Maynor Figueroa on the overlap and when he whipped the ball towards the box, Sagbo dummied to leave Elmohamady with a shooting opportunity on the right-hand side of the area. But the winger snatched somewhat at his effort and sprayed it wide.
Neither side were able to snatch a winner in the scrappy closing stages and while Paul Lambert and Steve Bruce may savour a point come the end of the season, both managers will also leave the KC Stadium ruing squandered opportunities.