Villa restoring belief - Houllier

Last updated : 16 January 2011 By BBC Sport

Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier says the belief is returning to his players after they came from behind to draw the second-city derby at Birmingham.James Collins' goal cancelled out Roger Johnson's opener for Birmingham to earn Villa a point in a entertaining end-to-end encounter on Sunday.

"In football, will is as important as skill and the players really want to get back up the table," said Houllier.

"I think we are getting stronger in terms of character and attitude."

It was engrossing encounter at St Andrew's, during which both sides created enough chances to win the match.

Villa struck the woodwork four times and Houllier feels the number of opportunities created by his side should have seen them emerge victorious.

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"I think we should have got more than a point, considering the number of chances we created," added Houllier. "When we came back to 1-1 we had a number of good chances to win the game.

"James Collins scored the goal for us, but he could have had a second goal. But after that, there was Nathan Delfouneso's shot and four or five times overall we hit the bar."

Houllier admitted Villa (who moved up to 17th in the table after Sunday's draw) are still in a perilous position in the league, but is hopeful of remedying this after seeing his side score a last-minute equaliser to earn a 3-3 draw at Chelsea on 2 January and now come from behind again against Birmingham.

"We're not in a very strong position in the league so we have to fight for everything and we were extremely resilient to the end," he said.

"This is a derby and Birmingham were winning 1-0 so credit to the players because in terms of character they were outstanding."

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish also felt his side had enough clear-cut opportunities when in front to wrap up the game, in addition to having a penalty claim rejected by referee Mark Clattenburg.

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"It was probably a fair result overall. We have come a long way in a couple of years in terms of these derby games and the results," said the Scot, whose side are just one place and one point above Villa. "Had we been a bit more clinical at 1-0, we would have seen it through.

"Craig Gardner had a wonderful chance with a volley which he put wide and he is a guy you would normally want and trust in that situation.

"Brad Friedel also made a great save at that point from Matt Derbyshire and we had the chance to turn the screw.

"But we allowed Villa to come back into it, and gave away a few unnecessary free-kicks and I was disappointed with the build-up to their equaliser.

"But the shot from Collins was not even on target before it hit someone and was deflected in."

Before the game, McLeish voiced his concern at City's failure to win any penalties this season and felt his side again had a strong case when Marc Albrighton caught the legs of Birmingham full-back David Murphy.

"I don't even claim for those now. I've got to be dignified after a game and the referee has got a tough job," he added.

"But their guy [Albrighton] has caught the legs of our guy [Murphy] and I've certainly seen those given against us."

Source: BBC Sport

Source: BBC Sport