With both teams in good form, and confident after midweek cup wins, the game between fourth placed Aston Villa and 18th placed Blackburn Rovers proved to be a fiesty controversial encounter. Blackburn welcomed David Dunn into the starting line up, who slotted in on the left flank, with Morten Gamst shifting over to the right flank, replacing the injured Brett Emerton. El Hadji Diouf started on the bench.
It was Aston Villa who took charge from the outset, with Heskey having the first attempt on goal, only for it to be blocked out. Villa continued to push on, with Agbonlahor and Young’s pace troubling the Rovers defence on either flank. In the first of many controversial moments, the travelling Villa fans were left bewildered as to why Emile Heskey’s chested goal from a Milner free kick was dissalowed by the referee. It was later made clear that the goal was disallowed for a push in the back, rather then a hand ball, Villa could count themselves unlucky.
Rovers started to up the tempo, however the only method into the Villa 18 yard box was route 1. A nice interplay between Benni and Jason Roberts found Robbo back to goal, who flicked a back heel onto the path of Morten Gamst, whose effort was blasted wide of the goal. Slack Rovers marking put Villa ahead in the 25th minute. A short corner taken by Villa set James Milner free, who avoided the first defender in David Dunn, blasting into the far corner of the goal from outside the penalty box. 1-0 Villa
Curtis Davies almost made it 2-0 for Villa minutes later. A delightful corner from Ashley Young found an unmarked Davies, who pounced ahead of Nelsen, however his header glanced wide of the far post. Rovers then had firm claims for a penalty. A clearing header was popped back into the goal mouth, finding the chest of Benni McCarthy. Gareth Barry appeared to be all over Benni, who lost control of the ball, Benni however did not go to ground, and attempted to scissor kick, however his effort flew into the grand stands. Aston Villa were once again denied a goal by the official with only minutes left in the first half. Agbonlahor was set free, and blasted the ball in the back of the net, however, he was ruled fractionally offside. Half Time, Rovers-0, Villa 1
Rovers made two changes at the break, with Tugay and El Hadji Diouf coming on for David Dunn and the ineffectual Keith Andrews.
Rovers started to play with more width on the pitch, with El Hadji finding space on the left flank. However, it was Villa once again who were creating all the chances. Agbonlahor came close twice, blasting 1 effort wide of the goal, and the second cleared of the line by Grella. In what was a sloppy second half, Rovers continued to play a direct style of football, whilst Villa’s fast creative approach appeared to trouble the Rovers defence. Andre Oijer picked up a head gash, whilst Warnock was cleaned up in a tackle. Roque then came on for Jason Roberts, who only moments later was unluckily not awarded a penalty for what once again appeared to be a blatant tug of the shirt in the box.
Benni continued to run around in the box, however, his first touch wasnt up to his usual standard. Rovers best chance in the game fell to Roque Santa Cruz. Roque held up the ball outside the box, and was given space by the defence. He blasted a shot which swerved just outside the far post. Rovers had another claim for a penalty, a delightful long ball by Tugay almost put Roque in the clear, however an outstretched arm from the Villa central defender appeared to strike Roque in the face, who then went down. No penalty….
With Rovers finally pushing up in search of an equalizer, Aston Villa and Agbonlahor got their due rewards in the 90th minute, with a deflected shot of Nelsen leaving Robinson stranded, 2-0 Villa Full Time
Paul Robinson 6
Couldnt do anything about the 2 goals, however his positioning on corners was appauling to be honest. A couple of air swings, a couple of rush outs….
Ryan Nelsen 8
Fantastic game from the Admiral, read the game well, anticipated the pace of the Villa wingers, and put his body on the line
Chris Samba 7
Decent game from the Wall, nothing to fancy, no errors. Really needs to make himself more of a precense on the long throw ins and corners
Steven Warnock 7
Quiet game from Steven, tried to push on, but his combination with Dunn and El hadji Diouf just didnt work
Andre Oijer 7.5
Solid game from Andre, made up for a lack of pace with sheer strength and good positioning
Keith Andrews 5
Poor game from Keith. Really did not get involved, and when he did, he simply was in the way…..
David Dunn 6.5
Would of preferred him playing more central, looked out of place on the left flank
Vince Grella 7
Solid game from Vinnie. Lost the ball in a dominant tackle late the game which im sure he wouldnt be too happy with
Morten Gamst 6.5
Yes, he is a natural right footer, but surely he is much more dangerous on the left flank. SHould of been on the left, and Carlos should of had the opportunity on the right
Jason Roberts 6
Held the ball up well, nothing else though…..Went to ground way to easily when he was through on goal
Benni McCarthy 6.5
Poor game from Benni today, the service wasnt the best, but his first touch was even worse
Tried to pull the strings, but was run ragged by the Villa Midfield
El Hadji Diouf 7
Not afraid to take on the defence, i guess thats good to see, tried to penetrate on the left flank with little luck
1 chance, last year it would of gone in, this year, it wont. ALso went down too easily whilst through on goal
Not sure if he got the tactics right this game King Sam. Should of started with Dunny and Grella in the middle, Gamst on the left and Carlos on the right, surely Carlos deserved a run after his mid week performance???
Roque and JR going down too easily
Seriously lads, your bloody through on goal. Stay on your feet, and bury that ball. Roberts absolutely turned his marker inside out, got a small tug and went head over heels, Roque would of had a perfect one on one opportunity, unless he had a horendous first touch. Contact was minimal, and he went down immediately.
These are good 1 on 1 opportunities. Sorry I might sound critical, but comon lads, no need to take it over the top, take these chances and dont go down!!!!
Were we just outclassed in the midfield, or did we lack that creative option. Would of liked Dunny to play more central with Grella