Aston Villa 0-0 Middlesbrough - 12-Sep-2017 : Match Report
Struggling Aston Villa again failed dismally to improve their lowly position as they were held by Middlesbrough to their second goalless Championship home draw in the space four days.
Villa had few excuses as for an hour they battled against 10-man Middlesbrough after Adama Traore had been sent off in the fourth minute.
In a game which failed to hit any high notes, Villa's Henri Lansbury was also shown red midway through the second half.
Following the disappointment of their poor goalless performance against lowly Brentford it was hardly a surprise that manager Steve Bruce made four changes as he reverted to a more experienced line-up.
Middlesbrough, fresh from their first away win in 13 months, certainly made a positive start with Ben Gibson quickly testing the ability of Villa's talented goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, who was forced to make an impressive save to his left to keep out a well-directed header.
The game exploded in dramatic fashion in only the third minute when Traore received a direct red card on his return to Villa Park
The former Barcelona player took out Conor Hourihane with a sliding tackle with both players finishing on the touchline.
Referee James Linington consulted his linesman before brandishing the red card much to the anguish of the former Villa defender.
Villa's poor finishing was highlighted when Davies cleverly put Robert Snodgrass in possession only for the Scot to shoot weakly straight at goalkeeper Darren Randolph.
As to be expected Middlesbrough had to mount a rearguard action and at times they had a back line of seven players thwarting Villa's weak attempts to open the scoring as illustrated by Randolph making easy saves from Lansbury and Snodgrass.
The barren first half resulted in Villa drafting in Scott Hogan and Albert Adomah but the home side still conspired to make heavy weather of their task.
Five minutes into the second half Adomah produced a left wing cross which Snodgrass met with a shot which rattled the crossbar.
Both teams were on a level footing In the 63rd minute of an untidy game when Lansbury received a straight red card for needless tripping substitute Marvin Johnson.
Villa's current plight was emphasised late in the game when Hogan himself blocked Hourihane's shot while on Middlesbrough's goalline.