Harry Redknapp described captain Michael Dawson's display as ‘fantastic' after the 1-1 draw at Villa.
The defender wore the armband with Robbie Keane on the bench and both Jonathan Woodgate and Ledley King out injured for the Barclays Premier League encounter at Villa Park.
That also meant Michael lined-up alongside Sebastien Bassong for only the second time in central defence - the first, the Carling Cup win against Everton - and for the first time in the Premier League.
We started slowly in what was a fourth-versus-fifth clash at start of play and conceded a goal inside the opening 10 minutes as Gabriel Agbonlahor bundled home from a corner.
But we took control from about the midway point in the first half.
Michael saw his effort cleared off the line by Carlos Cuellar, Brad Friedel saved well from Niko Kranjcar and Jermain Defoe went close but we still trailed 1-0 at half-time. Friedel denied Kranjcar again and Defoe had a goal ruled out for handball and finally the equaliser arrived as ‘Daws' hammered his shot into the top corner from Benoit Assou-Ekotto's cross in the 77th minute.
Defoe went close again in the final seconds but it stayed 1-1 with the point lifting us up to third on Saturday night.
"Michael was fantastic at centre-half, it was a terrific performance from him," reflected Harry. "He could have scored more and had another great chance in the first half.
"What a fantastic character. He always puts in 100 per cent and if he's not in the team, he's always fantastic around the dressing room. He was outstanding and both he and Bassong did well for us.
"Michael played centre-half with Woodgate last week but he was injured so that was the first time they've played together in the league and I was delighted with how they coped."