Writer: J P Fear
Date:Thursday December 29 2005
Attendance: 20 446
Blimey, what is up with Villa these days? Attacking football? Goals? This isn't what we are used to!?
Last nights game reminded me of the very best of the Keegan years at Newcastle United, useless defending, loads of attacking and a never say die attitude.
On the balance of play, Fulham had the greater possession, Game Stats Click Here
but Villa possibly would have felt the most deserving of a victory despite having to come from behind three times! I say we probably deserved it because Fulham were given a penalty by a linesman, or assistant referee or whatever they are calling themselves this week after the ref Andy D'urso (who was a late replacement for Beeby who injured himself in the warm up!) had waved away the claims. Delaney was definitely first or equal to the ball that saw McBride (?) take a tumble and he was very unlucky - especially considering a great performance - to have the decision go against him.
We also allowed Fulham two very (very) soft goals and to be fair, with Laursen (a player good enough for Inter Milan) and Mellberg (a player good enough for any team!) both out injured, and a distinct lack of cover in defence, we can't blame the team for these sort of errors. Ok, maybe we can, as they should know not to leave players un marked, but you get my drift!
The first for Fulham came from a Ridgewell mistake, the other defenders went for the off side trap but Ridgewell stayed too deep. A nice easy header for McBride being the result. Sorenson had no chance.
Villa drew level in great style with a class set up from Baros to Moore, who still had plenty to do, to cooly slot the ball home. He actually missed an easier chance earlier, but this was just reward for the young striker who is coming on leaps and bounds. Trouble is, Villa seemed incapable all night of holding on after scoring sure enough, Ridgewell gave the ball away when he should have moved it forward - sometimes simple is best (and I should know!!) - and Delaney and McBride both went for the same ball with the result,quite wrongly, being a penalty. Helguson took a very cool tap in penalty, one that looks great when scored and pathetic when saved! Sorenson chose the wrong way and 2-1 it was!
McCann, who looked industrious throughout, hit the post from a sublime Milner freekick and then - again from a Milner cross - Ridgewell was left unmarked for a lovely tap in following a good run, proving you sometimes just have to be in the right place at the right time.
Within 57 seconds Fulham were back in front. A lovely cross from (I think) Boa Morte resulted in an unchallenged McBride - with acres of space and time - heading a well directed ball leaving Sorenson once again with no chance. I'm not sure which defender should have been marking the striker, but whoever it was must have taken a tongue lashing from O'Leary at full time!
Still, all was not finished and Villa, unlike some performances this season, refused to give up. Baros gave another good pass to McCann only for supposed Villa target Zat Knight to block and then Ridgewell had an attempt that he failed to convert, only for the ball to zip right back in for him to convert from close range - again from a Milner cross. Milner really did look back on song and long may it continue.
McBride nearly spoilt Villa's night in injury time shooting just wide, but maybe on reflection, a draw was fair as both teams provided excellent entertainment and excitement. A great advert for attacking football, if not a masterclass in how to defend!
With this sort of performance, and the points picked up in the last month, Villa should be able to stop looking quite so worryingly below them in the league, a few more points and we might even start looking above. That said, the players are dropping like flies and we all have to hope that the injury that forced Bouma off in the second half isn't a serious one, we simply can't lose another defender!
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Date:Thursday December 29 2005
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