Sports Mole's minute-by-minute report of Aston Villa's goalless draw with Parma in pre-season.
By Jack Prescott, Rugby Editor Filed: Saturday, August 9, 2014 at 14:29 UK
Last Updated: Saturday, August 9, 2014 at 21:02 UK
Aston Villa finished their pre-season schedule on Saturday with a goalless draw at home to Parma.
Both sides struggled to create chances throughout the match at Villa Park, though the hosts came within inches of taking the lead in stoppage time.
Darren Bent's effort from the edge of the box looked to be heading into the top corner before crashing against the crossbar and going out of play.
Read Sports Mole's minute-by-minute report below to see how the action unfolded.
2.31pmGood afternoon and welcome to Sports Mole's live text coverage as Aston Villa play their final pre-season friendly of the summer at home to Parma. Let's get this show up and running with a bit of team news...
2.34pmASTON VILLA SUBS: Given, Vlaar, Bennett, Okore, Clark, Bacuna, El Ahmadi, Herd, Bent, Gardner, Lowton, Grealish
2.36pmVilla boss Paul Lambert has chopped and changed his starting XI a few times already during pre-season, but he's named a fairly strong lineup this afternoon. Brad Guzan, Philippe Senderos, Fabian Delph, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann are all given the nod, though Ron Vlaar and Darren Bent are among those who have to settle for a place on the bench.
2.45pmVilla's form in pre-season has been fairly impressive, with Paul Lambert's side winning four of their six matches so far. While today's match can be seen as a step up in terms of their opponents (Parma finished sixth last season), the home fans will be expecting their team to put in another encouraging display ahead of next weekend's Premier League opener away to Stoke City.
2.48pmPaul Lambert has been quite active in the transfer window already this summer, bringing a total of four new players into his squad. The latest of those was former Liverpool defender Aly Cissokho, who signed a four-year deal at Villa Park last night. You can read more about that transfer here.
2.51pmOf course, one of Villa's biggest signings of the summer was in the dugout. Roy Keane is now assistant manager at the club, and it will be fascinating to see what impact he has on the team this season. Plenty of eyes are sure to be on the fiery Irishman today, analysing his every move next to Lambert down on the touchline.
2.55pmThough he isn't in the squad this afternoon, Christian Benteke seems to be well on the road to recovery following the serious knee injury that he picked up at the end of last season. Teammate Leandro Bacuna recently revealed that the Belgian striker is "doing very well at the moment" in terms of his rehab.
2.58pmThe teams are starting to emerge in the tunnel at Villa Park. Not long to go now. For those who are interested, it's a sunny day in the Midlands, though there is a bit of cloud cover overhead.
4 minIt's been an even opening to this match so far, with both teams hustling for possession in the midfield. No chances to speak of as yet, though the two sides are showing plenty of positivity in the early stages.
6 minSomething of a half-chance for the visitors there as Biabiany takes aim from all of 25 yards, but his tame effort is deflected into the path of Guzan. The midfielder failed to get a clean strike of the ball on that occasion.
9 minThe Italians create another opening on the edge of the area with Palladino, only for the striker's weak shot to be easily gathered by Guzan. Villa are struggling to push into their opponents' half at the moment.
11 minCHANCE! That's more like it from Villa! Agbonlahor lays the ball off to Weimann on the edge of the box and the forward's stinging drive is pushed behind for a corner by the goalkeeper. The resulting corner is put into a dangerous area, though Parma do just about enough to clear the threat.
14 minHe may have had an erratic career at Villa Park, but N'Zogbia is looking very lively for the hosts right now. The winger is showing plenty of dynamism, running at the Parma defence with little fear. Paul Lambert is sure to be pleased with the urgency that N'Zogbia is displaying this afternoon.
15 minDISALLOWED GOAL! Villa think they're ahead, but the goal is ruled out for offside! Westwood's whipped cross was prodded home by Senderos, only for the linesman's flag to go up straight away. What a home debut that could have been for the Swiss defender.
17 minYELLOW CARD! Ooh, that's not a good challenge from Baker. The defender rightly goes into the book after chopping down Palladino out by the touchline. No complaints from the youngster.
20 minThat earlier foul from Baker has added a little bit of spice to this pre-season friendly. Both teams aren't shying away from throwing themselves into tackles at the moment. As it stands, it's Villa who have been the better side during the last five minutes or so.
23 minThe game's hit a bit of a lull in the last few minutes, with both sides doing little to worry each other. The passing is crisp in the midfield, though there hasn't been too much in terms of action at either end. That little bit of quality is missing right now.
26 minCHANCES! A good move from Parma ends with Biabiany having a crack on the angle from just inside the box, but Guzan shows good agility to get down low and collect the ball. The Italians create another opportunity moments later, though Belfodil slices wide after being granted plenty of space inside the area.
29 minIt must be said that Parma have a small pocket of fans inside Villa Park this afternoon, and they're doing their best to make some noise. The same can't be said for the Villa fans, though let's give them the benefit of the doubt as it's only a pre-season friendly.
32 minParma show some neat touches in the final third once more as they try to breach the Villa defence. However, Palladino's threaded pass for Belfodil just has too much on it, allowing Guzan to ease the pressure by gathering the ball. The Serie A do look dangerous once they get into advanced positions, certainly more so than Villa.
35 minHutton does well to win a corner for Villa, which is whipped into a good area. N'zogbia flicks the ball into the heart of the box, though no one is there to prod in.
39 minIt will be interesting to see how Paul Lambert opts to shake up his team in the second half. Darren Bent, who has failed to make an impact during his time at Villa Park, is among the subs. He could be just the sort of player that Villa need in this match - someone to make those runs in behind the defence. At the moment the hosts are relying too much on breaking Parma down, and it isn't working.
41 minCHANCE! N'zogbia continues to be Villa's biggest threat, this time cutting in from the right and seeing his shot deflected over the crossbar. However, the home side fail to make anything happen from the resulting corner.
44 minJust a minute plus stoppage time remaining in this first half, which has had all the hallmarks of a pre-season friendly. Still, you just feel that there's a goal in this match somewhere. If you were to pick the team that's most likely to score right now, you'd have to say that it's the Italians.
3.47pmThe referee blows his half-time whistle, bringing an end to a fairly-underwhelming opening 45 minutes at Villa Park. With no goals to speak of so far, let's hope for a bit more action during the second period.
3.50pmThe biggest moment of that first half came early on when Senderos saw his goal ruled out for offside. Other than that, the hosts have not done a great deal to trouble Parma. While the Italians have also been guilty of struggling up front, they've forced Guzan into one or two saves so far. A bit more composure in the final third and they could be ahead.
3.53pmVilla are currently parading new signing Aly Cissokho around the pitch, giving the home fans a chance to welcome the French international defender to the club.
3.58pmIt's hard to say what Cissokho made of that reception. Villa Park isn't exactly full this afternoon, and not all of the fans seemed to impressed by his presentation!
46 minSECOND HALF UNDERWAY! The teams are back out and it will be Parma to kick us off. Villa have made one change at the break, with Ron Vlaar replacing Nathan Baker. The club captain gets a rousing cheer when his named is read out over the PA system.
49 minCHANCE! An early opening for Villa at the start of the second half as N'zogbia tees up Weimann inside the box, though his effort is blocked by the Parma defence. Hutton did well at the start of that move, bursting into the box with plenty of intent.
52 minA slight worry for Villa there, with Belfodil's fierce drive deflecting behind for a corner. That could have gone anywhere. The resulting corner is floated into the penalty area, but Guzan jumps highest to collect the ball.
55 minCHANCE! Good opportunity for Parma to take the lead, but Guzan stands tall to make the save! Palladino drives through the Villa defence, bursting through a couple of defenders before prodding the ball towards goal from about 12 yards. However, Guzan is there to get down low and keep the ball out. Solid stuff from the American.
58 minWeimann troubles the Parma goalkeeper with a looping header from the edge of the penalty area, but his attempt is easily saved in the end. It would have taken something special to find the net there. Still goalless as we approach the hour-mark.
60 minNow it's Richardson who tries his luck with a speculative effort, trying to lace a half-volley into the top corner from 25 yards. It's not a bad try from the summer signing, though it dips over the crossbar in the end. Villa are knocking on the door a bit more now. Can they make the breakthrough inside the final 30 minutes of this match?
63 minSUBSTITUTIONS: Three changes here for Villa as Okore, Bent and Grealish replace Weimann, Senderos and Richardson.
69 minThat's poor from N'zogbia. Villa put together a decent passing move there, but the winger ruins it by hitting the ball out of play when trying to feed Stevens down the right flank.
72 minSUBSTITUTIONS: More changes for Villa here as Bennett and Bacuna come on for Stevens and N'zogbia. Just under 20 minutes left to play in this, Villa's final friendly of the summer. How we need a goal...
75 minThere's little to suggest that either side is going to break the deadlock at the moment. The passing has gone a bit sloppy, while the creating of chances is equally as under-par. Villa could ideally do with a win here to give them some momentum heading into next week's Premier League opener at Stoke because that's not going to be an easy match in the slightest.
79 minOne player who has impressed since coming on is Grealish. The youngster has shown no fear in getting at the Parma defence, giving them one or two problems from wide positions. It looks like he could be one to watch in the future.
82 minHalf a chance for Villa there as Delph creates some space for himself about 25 yards out before hitting a low shot wide of goal.
83 minSUBSTITUTIONS: That's Delph's last action of the match as he is replaced by Gardner. Villa make three further changes, with Westwood, Agbonlahor and Hutton being withdrawn for El Ahmadi, Herd and Lowton.
86 minAround four minutes left to play at Villa Park, where the score remains 0-0. Paul Lambert may gloss over his side's performance after the match, but there can't be too much that he's happy with. Villa have shown plenty of energy, especially in midfield, though the tone of their overall display has been one lacking in imagination and drive.
88 minCHANCE! Almost a late winner for Villa as El Ahmadi unleashes a powerful drive from 25 yards out, but the substitutes's effort flashes narrowly wide of the post. That would have been a spectacular way to win the match.
90 minOFF THE BAR! So close again for Villa! The ball comes to Bent on the edge of the area, though he can only slam his shot against the crossbar and out of play. The striker was inches away.
4.51pmWe almost had some late drama at the end there, but it just wasn't to be. It ends goalless between Aston Villa and Parma following a largely-dull 90 minutes in the Midlands.
4.53pmThat's all from me for today, but you will be able to follow live text coverage of Villa's Premier League opener at Stoke City next weekend right here on Sports Mole. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and we hope to see you soon. Goodbye!