Match report: Villa 0-0 Southampton - Creditable Saints draw
Villa edged closer to Barclays Premier League safety with a hard-earned point against Southampton.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between in a tight contest, but Paul Lambert's men can feel well satisfied with a result which ends a run of four straight defeats.
Although the Saints were on top before half-time, Villa were much stronger after the interval, with Marc Albrighton unlucky not to break the deadlock with a superb shot which brought a fine save from keeper Artur Boruc.
After their recent disappointments, Villa's nerves were understandably evident from the outset, and Rickie Lambert twice had chances to put the visitors ahead inside the first five minutes.
First he failed to get any power behind a close-range header, which Brad Guzan saved comfortably, and then he sliced wide of an open target after former Villa midfielder Steven Davis had cut the ball back invitingly from the left.
The first home threat came from a flowing move involving Fabian Delph, Andi Weimann and Gabby Agbonlahor, who switched the ball back inside but just too far of the Austrian striker's determined run.
Albrighton then sent Agbonlahor on a run, only for the striker to take the ball a touch too far, allowing Jose Fonte to get back and clear at the expense of a corner.
Davis nearly made a breakthrough for the Saints in the 32nd minute, his low snap shot being tipped away by Guzan after a cross from the left had caused confusion in the home defence.
It was proving to be hard going for Lambert's men, although Albrighton and Delph linked up well for Ryan Bertrand to produce a dangerous centre that was headed away for a corner.
And despite Southampton enjoying greater possession, Villa almost snatched the lead on the stroke of half-time when Bertand and Karim El Ahmadi exchanged passes before the left-back's cross struck Dejan Lovren and went behind for another flag kick.
Villa maintained their momentum at the start of the second period and El Ahmadi might have scored twice in the opening seven minutes.
Having sidestepped a challenge on the edge of the area, the Morocco international's effort didn't carry enough power to unduly worry Boruc, who made a comfortable save.
Then El Ahmadi unleashed a shot which deflected off Fonte and on to the top of the net.
But there was a scare a few minutes later when Luke Shaw cut inside for a low cross which looked certain to lead to a goal until Adam Lallana got his feet in a tangle right in front of goal.
Lallana put the ball in the net in the 65th minute but was clearly offside, and in between times Villa had two decent chances.
El Ahmadi's flick was saved at the foot of a post following a deep free-kick from Albrighton, who then won possession before hitting a superb left-foot rising drive which was parried by the keeper.
After Lallana's effort was ruled out, neither side were able to make an impact, although the closing stages were notable for the introduction of Callum Robinson for his Barclays Premier League debut.
Villa: Guzan; Bacuna, Vlaar, Baker, Bertrand; El Ahmadi (Holt 80), Delph, Westwood; Albrighton, Agbonlahor, Weimann (Robinson 85). Unused subs: Steer, Clark, Sylla, Tonev, Lowton.
Southampton: Boruc; Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw; Ward-Prowse (Gallagher 67), Wanyama (Cork 83), Lallana (Reed 90), Schneiderlin, Davis; Lambert. Unused subs: Gazzinaga, Do Prado, Chambers, Hooiveld.