News of the 42-year-old’s passing came just a few hours before kick-off in his native Wales with the home side hastily arranging a minutes silence to allow both clubs and their supporters to pay their respects. That silence quickly turned into a minutes applause with Villa keeper Shay Given unable to control his emotions on a day where football took a backseat. The goalkeeper spent around seven years playing with Speed at Newcastle his devastation was visible for the world to see as tributes flocked in for the former Leeds, Everton and Bolton midfielder. The atmosphere inside the Liberty Stadium was understandably glum as both sides tried to lift the spirits inside the ground and put on a performance that would prove a fitting tribute to the memory of a man renowned as being a true professional and gentleman. Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers saw his side lose their unbeaten home record last week against Manchester United but will have been confident of securing a positive result against Villa who are poor on the road. Alex McLeish’s side have yet to win on their travels and once again lacked the cutting edge that could have seen them snatch victory.
The opening forty five minutes was a drab affair with either side unable to muster any clear goalscoring opportunities as both sets of players huffed and puffed to no avail. Gabriel Agbonlahor looked Villa’s most threatening player with his pace causing Angel Rangel problems before the defender went off to be replaced by youngster Ashley Richards. It was Agbonlahor who had the first meaningful effort of the game but his drilled strike was well saved by Michael Vorm before teeing up Steven Warnock who swept an effort over the bar. The Swan’s were looking comfortable in possession but just couldn’t conjure up a telling final ball with Leon Britton and Joe Allen unable to find a way past a stern visiting back four. Scott Sinclair was cutting an isolated figure on the left wing but almost put his side in front lashing a shot wide of Given’s goal. The host’s were also defending well at the back but would have been breathing a huge sigh of relief just minutes before the interval with Villa claiming they should have had a penalty. Emile Heskey’s header appeared to strike the arm of defender Ashley Williams and despite vehement appeals from the Villa players referee Neil Swabrick brushed them aside as the first half ended goalless.
It would be a similar story after the break with both sides showing plenty of endeavour although Agbonlahor went close to giving Villa the lead seeing his swerving effort turned over unconvincingly by Vorm. The home side were then dealt another blow with Danny Graham forced off with Leroy Lita taking his place as they started to grow into the game. An encouraging spell of possession almost paid dividends but Allen could only flash an effort wide. It was the introduction of Lita that almost won the game for Swansea with the former Middlesbrough striker turning James Collins in the area before firing beyond the right-hand post after being found by Mark Gower in the penalty area. Collins made up for his error moments later producing a superb block to deny Sinclair after he outpaced Alan Hutton down the left. The home support continued to will their team forward but it was Villa who almost snatched the points with Chris Herd heading wide from six-yards out as their winless run on the road stretches to a seventh game.