Paul Lambert was gutted to leave Villa Park empty-handed again on Monday night as another defensive mistake cost them more valuable points.

Stand-in captain Ciaran Clark was the guilty party as his mistake was pounced on by Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko, who set up Carlos Tevez for the only goal of the game.

The match-winning strike came on the stroke of half-time, just as Paul Lambert was preparing a morale-boosting half-time team-talk.

Instead he was forced to re-think, but insisted that he witheld from laying into his skipper, despite the error. “The goal is a mistake,” he said.

“I wouldn’t have minded if someone had put one in the top corner with a bit of skill. But it’s a mistake by us.

“There was only a minute to go in the first half. It is easy to be critical of Ciaran though.

“The lad has been excellent all season.

“He will learn from it, he won’t make the same mistake again.

“I just think he has tried something he maybe shouldn’t have, feeling confident.

“But he has been excellent for me throughout the games.”

When asked whether he had to pick up the Republic of Ireland international at half-time, Lambert added: “I just had chat with him. It is easy to go in and absolutely take the paint off the wall – I knew that wouldn’t do him any good.

“When someone makes a mistake – a genuine mistake, and with how young he is... I thought he responded brilliantly in the second half.

“But when you’re playing at this level and you make mistakes with the calibre of strikers you’re playing against, you know that’s what can happen,” Lambert added.