Aston Villa - Villa Park Buzzing 2-1
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Aston Villa 2 - Reading 1

Villa Park


Attendance: 37 329

Villa Park Buzzing 2-1

So, Martin O'Neill rolls into town, and despite the best efforts of Reading, the party could not be spoilt. Reading took an early lead but Villa were not going to capitulate at Villa Park - not this season!

What a difference a manager makes, sure the squad is still the same squad, very thin on the ground and in great need of re-enforcements, but last night, for the first time in a long time, they looked like a team. Even the players on the bench looked interested as they were jumping up and down when we scored and often standing up during the game to see what was going on.

As for Martin O'Neill, he got the sort of reception you would expect and he certainly confirmed my suspicions, he has had pogo sticks implanted into his legs as he was jumping up and down like a good en. Funny, he has been here 2 minutes and he already looks and feels like a Villa manager, standing with the Villa tracksuit on, pacing the touchline (giving the fourth official plenty to do, maybe they will need to attach some elastic on him so he can only stroll so far?!) and getting totally involved. Bit different to our last manager, what was his name again?

Last night it felt to me that the soul was back at Aston Villa and the buzz and excitement was infectious. With over 37 000 fans there, it just shows what a bit of optimism can do to the Villa faithful. If DOL had remained, I would think the attendance would be 10 000 under that! Only thing we need to crack now is for the Holte End to forget about Birmingham City - who cares about them? So why sing about them?! The ground was also full of talk of Randy Lerner and the takeover, with some funds and fresh ideas, Villa Park is going to be rocking and rolling. We'll soon have the ground full to the rafters and many of the younger fans will see what it really means being a Lion. Many won't have been around for the European nights, lets hope they come soon and we can all forget about the politics and the past, and start to enjoy a bright future.

Reading were certainly no push over, I don't think anyone expected them to be and our defence was caught cold in the 4th minute as Reading cut through our team and Doyle scored.

Villa weren't to be rushed or panicked though, they played how they should, with the ball mostly on the ground, they seemed to have a better understanding and more cohesion and it was great to see the amount of forward passes had increased. The midfield still aren't always providing the necessary through balls to Angel who gets caught off-side very often because of that. There seemed to be more patient build ups last night and it was good to see. On the 34th minute Villa quite rightly got a penalty and , Sonko saw red. Angel neatly despatched the penalty and Villa Park erupted, as did O'Neill and the bench.

The second goal was nutted in by the ever brilliant Gareth Barry from a perfectly floated cross by Peter Whittingham. So happy to see Whitts still at Villa, the fans are too quick to get on the back of the youth players, but given time these players will become regulars for Villa. He came on as sub for Jlloyd Samuel who picked up a knock.

Vital Villa did a poll on the result and 92% said we would win, only 3% that we would lose and the remaining 5% said a draw. The majority were spot on and the Lions are in dreamland. Reading huffed and puffed, with some great teamwork and crisp passing, but there was only ever going to be one winner last night and that was the mighty Villa. Our luck looks like it is on the turn, long may it continue.

Star Player

Gareth Barry.

Player Ratings

Thomas Sorenson: 6

not responsible for goal as far as I could see.

Olof Mellberg: 8

The bearded one was back to form and not letting much get passed him. Made some vital tackles.

Liam Ridgewell: 7

Starting to get the hang of this premiership malarkey!

Aaron Hughes: 6

In and out but contributes well and does get forward.

Jlloyd Samuel: 5

Not at the races yet, but I still say there is a good player in him and MON will bring that out. Looked like he was struggling with a niggle (injury) at times.

Gavin McCann: 7

Best I've seen McCann play for two seasons, some lovely touches, tough tackles + loads of determination, welcome back!

Steven Davis: 6

Some smashing touches, a few flicks that didn't come off but would have been masterful if they had, this lad will be a star.

Gareth Barry: 9

This lad is a star! Great contribution, deserves to be captain and deserved to be on the goal sheet.

Gabriel Agbonlahor: 7

Another star in the making, scored what looked a perfectly legitimate goal (but haven't seen the replays).

Luke Moore: 5

Patchy, got the pace, got the touches, but wasn't fully at the races yesterday, got to start threatening and shooting.

Juan Pablo Angel: 7

I like Angel despite him having my share of hair, I think with the right service he will contribute greatly to the scoresheet. Nicely taken penalty and a few good touches. Certainly gets up and down the pitch and made a few defensive contributions.

Peter Whittingham (sub on 59th for Samuel) 7

Excellent cross for winning goal.

Manager Rating

Martin O'Neill 10 out of 10! He'll be a Villa Park legend and looked so right on the touchline.

Opponent Rating

Steve Coppell, got a great team there, they should cause a fair few teams a problem this year, thought Seol was immense for them.

Happy days!

Great to be back at Villa Park. I think I win the record for the worlds shortest boycott and I never actuall had to miss a match. Happy days!

Match Stats

For Match Stats - Click Here

The Journalist

Writer: J P Fear Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday August 24 2006

Time: 12:20PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
samuel did have a poor game but we have been saying that for the last 18 months, whittingham was a revelation when he came on and i believe with bouma not fit yet then whitts can make the L/B position his own, his crossing ability is great and he could supply the service for angel. i seem to remember he supplied a few for Angel in his 23 goal season...!
Report Abuse
24/08/2006 12:42:00

I was disapointed to hear small sections of the Villa crowd booing him when he walked off. The lad needs the fans behind him to get his confidence back up. You could tell he wanted to come off and it is a shame cause on his day he can be a good player. But apart from that I thought McCann and Barry were outstanding and Ridge and Mellberg were dominant. Good display boys and it was great to hear the Holte End roar again!!! i had shivers down my spine when they outsung the Reading fans who looked stunned at the loudness of the Holt End!
Report Abuse
24/08/2006 12:56:00

up the villa! good result although we do need few new additions to are thin squad quickly to keep are good results going and also bouma back for dodgy j lloyd at left back! the villa revolution is here AT LAST! happy days indeed!
Belfast Villain
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24/08/2006 13:22:00

o'neill was brilliant last night, you could really tell that the game meant so much to him, he looked nervous/angry/twicthy when we were one nil down which is exactly what ewve been crying out for, not some plum to sit in the 'doug out' with a stupid brown jacket on
Report Abuse
24/08/2006 13:45:00

J P Fear,What Game Was U Watching. 2 Me Luke Moore Was One Of The 3 Best Villa Players On The Pitch. U R Saying Agbonlahor,Hughes,Davis,Sorenson,Ridgewell And Whittingham All Had A better Game Then Him. U r also Saying That He That He Was No Better Or Worse Then Samuel. Bull*****. All Is It U Dont Rate Luke Moore And U Give Im The 5 Be4 The Match Started?. Please Explaing 2 Me Why He Got A 5
Report Abuse
24/08/2006 14:49:00

Angel will bag a hat full of goals this season if we keep providing the crosses for him to get his head on to. That season he scored loads, a lot were headers... then for some reason we stopped sending the crosses over. He had 3 good headed chances last night. More of the same service and he'll score his fair share.
Report Abuse
24/08/2006 15:02:00

adamsutton, the one reason is I'd typed it in wrong, it IS meant to be 6, so thus changed! oops. BUT it isn't true I don't like him, I've watched him come through the reserve ranks and think he is an excellent player. I don't have any pre-judged dislikes when watching anyone in the villa shirt, but I do know what you mean, there are the boo boys about who pick on one or two and always kick off. HOWEVER, isn't football all about opinion? Some rate players, others don't, we all see a different match and then sit round the pubs and on internet forums and disect and argue about them?! Anyone is VERY welcome to submit match reports or player ratings.
The Fear
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24/08/2006 15:20:00

A mate was having a conversation with Gordon Cowans & asked him who the most skillful player at the clubs was. To his amazement (& mine) he stated Peter Whittingham. Well he should know, MON is just the man to take him to the next level
Willie Willie Anders
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24/08/2006 15:22:00

Ok The Fear. Fair Anoth. I still think he deserves higher then a 6. A 7 i would give im. But thats ur opinon. I rate luke morre. The player who i dont rate is Steven Davis. He is good but 2 much over rated.
Report Abuse
24/08/2006 15:33:00

After the depressing fare we've endured for the past two years, last night was a revelation. A great crowd, a gritty performance, and a manager who kicks and heads every ball. The future looks bright...the future's claret & blue!
Report Abuse
24/08/2006 15:36:00

great thing now is we are talking / arguing football not the politics, long may that continue! Think Gabby will be a superstar as well, looks class to me (hope that isn't the kiss of death!)
The Fear
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24/08/2006 15:42:00

I've read a lot that MON's preferred formation is 3-5-2 employing wingbacks. Perhaps this is the way forward and would allow Whitts to play ahead of Jlloyd who has looked a bit shaky and was taken to the cleaners by Seoul. Also on a couple of occassions I thought the midfield were looking to play balls over the top but for all of his good points, JPA lacks real pace to run onto such a pass. Maybe playing Luke or Gabby down the middle would be better, at least until Baros is fit again and then play with JPA for his aerial ability and ball holding up, and Baros as the strike partnership. Also I would then play Delaney as right wing back and move Hughes inside as one of the defensive three with Olly and Ridge/Laursen. Also feel that McCann played really well last night alongside GB. Davo is still carrying a niggle hence his subdued showing but still felt he did ok. All in all the future looks promising. The bells are ringing...............!!!
Report Abuse
24/08/2006 16:57:00

yeah bored of singing anti-blues ones. pro-villa ones are much better.
Report Abuse
24/08/2006 17:31:00

A definite improved showing on the Villa Park performances that we suffered last season. Many plus points, but apart from the very welcome three points that we bagged, one of the most important things was that the feel good factor was back at Villa Park. Supporters were arriving with smiles on their faces, Villa Park was buzzing again, and apart from Easter Sunday this past April, the atmosphere inside the stadium was better than its been for some considerable time.
Report Abuse
24/08/2006 18:45:00

I'm not a samuel fan, but i don't like any villa player getting boos ,i remember the stick Dubin got was bad.
the flying villain
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24/08/2006 19:14:00

Anyone notice we had a single ball system rather than a multi ball one. Thought that was starnge for a home game. Thought Samuel didn't have a clue and I hear Samuel was taken off cos he was injured? Thought MON took him off cos he was bad??? McCann & Davis got bullied at times in the middle and first 20 mins wondered how we managed to keep Arsenal out for so long. Chuffed when we went behind that the fans got behind the team. Barry was superb and looks like he's committed to the club and with some decent crosses Angel looks sharp. Seems a shame that some of the kids will be sacrificed for bigger names eventually but they won't take us into the top 6.
Report Abuse
24/08/2006 21:45:00

Although I'm not a Samuel fan either I totally agree that he shouldn't be booed by our own fans. I seem to recall him getting stick from the RFC fans as he went to the tunnel, maybe a quick show of support from the Holte would have shut them up. Re: anti Blues songs, I take my son to every game with me and would NEVER allow him to use that type of language in normal day to day circumstances so why should a football match be any different. Surely now, with new management and owners (and Blues not even in the same division) it is an ideal time to move on and sing positive songs about Villa.
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24/08/2006 21:51:00


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