Alex McLeish defiant over Aston Villa's survival fight

Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish remained defiant after seeing his team draw at West Brom to maintain a three-point gap from the Premier League's bottom three.

Villa have failed to win in eight games and have slipped perilously close to the relegation zone.

But although fans have turned on him and their rivals have started to pick up points, McLeish has kept his belief.

"I have had to show my experience and leadership. I will not curl up and die," McLeish said.

"I will persevere to the end as I always have done.

"It gives me great pride to be manager of these players. We have had some troubles this season but we have some key players back now."

Wigan Athletic thumped Newcastle 4-0 to move level on 37 points with McLeish's side.

Bolton, who drew 2-2 with Sunderland, and QPR, who play Chelsea on Sunday, both have 34 points and a game in hand.

Villa had chances to take all three points at the Hawthorns and ease the pressure for the run-in, with the impressive Gabriel Agbonlahor twice being denied by Baggies goalkeeper Ben Foster as he raced through on goal.

McLeish also felt his side could have had two penalties, for handballs by Chris Brunt before the break and Jonas Olsson in the latter stages.

But West Brom were denied what appeared a blatant spot-kick when Alan Hutton knocked Liam Ridgewell's goalbound header over the bar with his forearm. And Peter Odemwingie was also denied a late winner by a brilliant Shay Given block.

McLeish, who has always maintained he would not walk away from Villa,external-link added: "The agony continues a little bit but the fighting spirit was fantastic. They [the players] went from start to finish and put themselves on the line again.

"Hutton did [appear to handle] but I thought it was very similar to Chris Brunt handling. If Hutton's is a penalty, then Brunt's is a penalty.

"Then we had a better shout with five minutes to go when Jonas Olsson slid along the ground and dragged the ball with his arm when Ciaran Clark's shot was going in the bottom corner.

"We felt a bit disappointed we didn't get that decision.

"The difference is getting the goals and the finishing. We have been unlucky but one of the guys will get the goals we want in the next two games."

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