Barclays Premier League
West Ham United 0-0 Aston Villa
Barclays Premier League
West Ham United played out their second Barclays Premier League 0-0 draw in succession when Aston Villa proved stubborn opposition on Saturday.
The Hammers' defensive prowess has been almost unmatched in the top flight this season - this was their sixth clean sheet in ten starts - but they were unable to force a way through at the other end and so had to settle for a point.
It has been a frustration for Sam Allardyce this season that his side have not been able to make the most of their defensive solidity and no doubt he would have felt the same on an afternoon when they could have moved up to 12th in the table with three points.
It was an open start to proceedings and Andreas Weimann was presented with a fine opportunity to open the scoring with just six minutes on the clock, when Ashley Westwood's clipped through ball sent him clear.
The Austrian was the wrong side of James Tomkins, but Jussi Jaaskelainen closed the angles down and smothered the danger.
At the other end former Villa man Stewart Downing was looking to impress against his old club and he cut in from the right flank on 13 minutes before sending a shot straight down Brad Guzan's throat from the edge of the box.
Four minutes later Hammers hearts were in mouths when a rapid Villa counter threatened to catch them out directly from their own corner. Weimann was again the man streaking clear and Ravel Morrison had to track all the way back. The pair tussled as they reached the cusp of the penalty box and Weimann went to ground, but referee Howard Webb deemed no foul to have occured and waved play on.
Weimann was bemused, but Morrison deserved praise for sticking to his task and nullifying the danger.
With 20 minutes on the clock, Kevin Nolan slipped a pass through to Matt Jarvis. He took the ball round Guzan, but was forced wide and the goalkeeper recovered to block from an angle before Ron Vlaar hacked clear.
Despite, the lively opening, that was about that as goalmouth action for the first half was concerned, as the defences gradually got on top and restricted the attacking opportunities.
The second period started in much the same way, and the Hammers looked to the bench just after the hour by introducing both Coles as they searched for more penetration.
It was Villa who so nearly found it 20 minutes from the end though when Matthew Lowton crossed from the right and Christian Benteke, who had been quiet up until that point, crashed a header against the crossbar.
West Ham broke immediately and were not far away themselves when Downing moved inside from his station and slipped a neat reverse pass to Nolan, who took the shot on first time but could not direct the ball between the posts.
Benteke forced a sprawling stop in the final minute when he flashed a shot towards the far post, then Joe Cole's near post drive needed a save from Guzan, but neither team could force the breakthrough and 0-0 was how it ended.
West Ham United: Jaaskelainen; Demel, Tomkins, Reid, Rat (Diame 90); Collison (C.Cole 62), Noble, Morrison; Downing, Nolan, Jarvis (J.Cole 62)
Subs: Adrian, Maiga, O'Brien, Potts
Aston Villa: Guzan; Vlaar, Baker, Clark; Lowton, Sylla, Westwood, El Ahmadi, Bacuna; Weimann (Kozak 57), Benteke
Subs: Steer, Helenius, Herd, Bowery, Tonev, Johnson
Booked: Bacuna, Lowton
Referee: Howard Webb