<i>Charlton Athletic 0 Aston Villa 0</i>

David O'Leary's assertion that this match was unlikely to make it onto the Match of the Day highlight reel does not do justice to his side's performance.

Aston Villa reached new heights of mediocrity against Charlton Athletic and, for that, the Villa manager must take some of the credit.

With Luke Moore in such poor form, having only scored five times in the last three games, O'Leary took the brave step of playing Juan Pablo Angel (two league goals all season), and Milan Baros (five league goals) upfront against a Charlton side who, prior to this match, hadn't conceded a goal in their last four home league games.

It took 46 minutes for O'Leary's side to have a shot on target, when James Milner's strike forced a save from Thomas Myhre and a full 70 minutes before they seriously threatened the Charlton goal.

Angel's main contribution to the action was to run around and look threatening, without actually doing anything, while Baros' laughable attempt to win a penalty in the 61st minute should have been more harshly dealt with by the referee.

Even the introduction of Moore at half-time for the injured Aaron Hughes, and Kevin Phillips' for the irrelevant Angel failed to improve the odds of a goal.

Too often, the final pass missed its intended target altogether or was under-hit and intercepted. Creatively, Villa seemed devoid of ideas and more often than not ended up going sideways, rather than forwards.

The home side were no better, having found that the long ball over the top was their mostly likely route to goal and, although Marcus Bent and Darren Bent posed more of a threat upfront, Villa goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen was always equal to the task.

When Marcus Bent limped off with a hamstring injury just before the hour, he took with him the likelihood of a goal gracing a truly dismal affair.

This was the Barclays Premiership at its very worst. Two average sides played out a very average game to main-tain their slightly less than average league positions. There wasn't even the threat of relegation to make it interesting.

The only positive thing that can be said for the entire affair was that it stretched Villa's unbeaten run away from home to eight games.

"I think it was a frustrating game for everybody," said Alan Curbishley, the Charlton Athletic manager.

"It was quite windy out there and the pitch was dry and bobbly. I think we had the better of the first half and perhaps needed to score and they got stronger as the game went on.

"In the first half, I thought we broke quite well, on three or our occasions, but picked the wrong ball, or didn't manage to do it. On paper, it was going to be a tough encounter, 'dogged' if you like, and that's the way it turned out. I think, at the end of it, a draw was a fair result."

David O'Leary's take on the game was much the same as it always has been; small squad, club in transition, too many injuries.

"Neither team deserved to get beat. I thought it was a nil-nil," said the Iirishman.

"I don't think either team went out there to get a point. I don't think it was a lack of trying on either part. I think, with the substitutions, both managers were sending on players to try and win the game. But if you look at the two clubs, we've got the same budgets, we're chasing the same type of players, we're in the same type of mix.

We're kind of evenly matched and I think that came through in the game today.

"A point each and let's move on. I don't think you'll see much of it on Match of the Day, I think it might be a little clip at the end to give both clubs a mention."

For O'Leary, the draw put his side another point along the road to his first priority, 40 points and safety.

"The club is in a very transitional floating period," he said. "My priority is to get it to safety as quickly as possible and see what life brings us in the summer. We haven't been able to bring in anybody and we have a very small squad and it is about keeping this club safe."

For everyone else, it was a fairly dour encounter that did little to warm the spirits, or encourage a belief that either side need concentrate on anything other than their challenge for the FA Cup. ..SUPL: