Aston Villa - Villa (10 men) v Pool (12)
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Aston Villa 1 - Liverpool 2

Villa Park


Attendance: 42 640

Villa (10 men) v Pool (12)

Well, there you go, the highs and lows of football.

In so many ways we matched Liverpool today, in so many ways but one, quality. They had another gear to step into, we didn't.

The game certainly wasn't helped by the fact that we were down to ten men right from the start as the mercurial Stiliyan Petrov once again proved a liability and the fact Liverpool had 12 men, as Mike Riley might just as well have been in a Liverpool shirt. I'm sorry but he was atrocious today, must have been up for the 'can I be any worse than Uriah Rennie' award. Yes Riley, you can. Jermaine Pennant was on a yellow card. He raised his hands and pushed Wilf, that is a second yellow. Wilf got a yellow for his part but because Liverpool are a top four team, they can't have red cards against them. Riley, you gifted them the game when Villa were already up against it.

Villa didn't want for endeavour and hopefully against 'lesser' teams might be able to get some points, but when you look at the difference in the benches today, you can see why Liverpool will again be a top four side and why Villa again won't be. They had Babbel to bring on, we have Harewood. No disrespect but if you buy at the bottom end of the market, you end up mid table or bottom end of the Premiership.

That said, our lads did as well as they could today, it isn't there fault there haven't been any quality additions to the team and they gave all they could. We tried to be fast on the ball but Liverpool at times gave us lessons on how to make insightful forward passes. We had our moments though and there are certainly glimmers of hope, I'd certainly back us to give most teams a battle and with a more solid keeper and hopefully a right back, I can see us pushing for Europe, trouble is I can see another 10 odd teams doing the same.

Today certainly wasn't a disaster, Liverpool got lucky with their first goal after Martin Laursen (who went off at half time feeling sick and who had apparently not been well before the game - so at least it wasn't an injury) scored an own goal. Villa of old would have let their heads drop but this season at the very least there appears to be a team spirit and they carried on fighting. We got the break in the 85th minute when Gareth Barry - who in my humble opinion looked a quality apart from the rest of our boys today - converted a penalty. That was it, we'd earnt our first draw most of us thought. But it wasn't to be. Petrov gave the ball away once again, Liverpool came forward, one of their players got blocked and Riley gave an inevitable free kick. Up stepped Steven Gerrard, who to be fair had done very little all game hopefully thanks to Nigel Reo-Coker containing him, and one world class free kick later, the claret and blue hearts were broken.

On endeavour, desire and fighting spirit, it would have been great to see Villa get a point out of this game, but we don't seem to get the luck and in my heart of hearts, I can't say that a win for Liverpool was totally out of context for this game, bad refereeing or not. Some will agree, some will disagree I guess.

Our poll asked for your predictions, 25% were correct saying we'd lose. 25% said a draw and 49% had the wind knocked out of their sales as they expected a win. Our latest poll is asking for your man of the match, however there appears to be a technical glitch on the site so at present it isn't showing!

Match stats: Click Here

Star Player

Gareth Barry, as usual!

Player Ratings

Stuart Taylor 6.

Very mixed, came out and missed a few crosses and corners, but also made some very good reflex saves.

Craig Gardner 7.

Was tough in the tackles and determined but isn't a defender or right-back and did get caught for positioning. An extra point goes for him taking one in the gonads to save what was a sure goal. Ouch.

Olof Mellberg 5.5.

Not at his best today.

Martin Laursen 6.

Haven't seen a replay of the own goal but did well considering he was feeling sick.

Wilfred Bouma 6.

Some good tackles, kept trying to get forward, had acres of space at times but didn't always get the ball. Only quibble is he gives the ball away cheaply. Looked angry coming off.

Ashley Young 6.

Fast, agile, tried to get forward, did end up running into a few blind alleys though and to be fair, the Liverpool defence was fairly solid and very big!

Gareth Barry 8.

A quality apart, some lovely touches, well taken penalty and deserves to see the squad built around him to fulfil his ambitions - if not he'll be off.

Nigel Reo-Coker 7.

Played the holding role and seemed to keep Gerrard quiet, good full debut for us in the Prem.

Stiliyan Petrov 3.

What is the point? What am I missing? Put Gardner in there and buy us a right-back for goodness sake. Should have scored but shot right at Reina, gave the ball away far too often. Major disappointment, can't blame a lack of pre-season now. I wish it was him rumoured to be going back to Celtic.

John Carew 5.

Clearly not fit, so not sure why he was on the whole of the game. At least I hope he wasn't fit as he did little and we did once again tend to hoof the ball up to him, I think he is more refined a striker - big bugger or not - so doesn't need long balls into him.

Gabriel Agbonlahor 5.

Didn't see much today. If I was Luke Moore - having scored so many in pre-season, I'd have been gutted at not starting today.

Luke Moore

(on for Wilfred Bouma 71 - Barry went left back). Didn't really get any chances. The supply still isn't get the right balls to the strikers.

Gary Cahill 6.

(on for Laursen at half time) Seemed to be ok, I like Cahill, think he'll be a fixture in our side for years to come.

Good to be back!

Nice to see Villa Park full and for the atmosphere to be so good. Lets hope we can keep it up when we play the smaller teams in the middle of winter! Great to see all the old faces around by me, win lose or draw, I do love the Villa !

Manager Rating

Martin O'Neill was very animated on the touchline today, not sure how effective he is whilst shouting at the players but I did like his rants against the ref.

Opponent Rating

Rafa Benitez for some reason has decided to do a working mans club impression of Tom Jones, albeit a squat sized one, with his goatee beard. Not a good look Rafa, but sadly for Villa, a very good team. Still don't think Liverpool will crack 1st or 2nd this season, not unless Mike Riley is their ref every week.

The Journalist

Writer: J P Fear Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday August 11 2007

Time: 9:11PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
shame we lost, but still great to be back down at Villa Park! Got to beat the teams like Fulham this year to be in with a shout of Europe.
The Fear
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11/08/2007 21:19:00

Any reason why Bennett was swapped for Riley today? And if that was a free kick for Gerrards goal we may as pack up now. What for the future penalties for dirty looks! u bitch!!!
silkie villain
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11/08/2007 21:22:00

We really do need some quality signings unless we are going to be happy with 15th in the prem . We looked the same team as last year in my opinion .
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11/08/2007 21:30:00

Liverpool were never going to lose today. 'Scouse' Riley made sure of that. Diabolical decision for the free kick from which Gerrard scored the winner (he took it superbly though). I really had hoped for an improvement in the standard of referreeing this season, but it doesn't look like that's gonna happen.
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11/08/2007 21:32:00

the ref gave an unbelievable amount of frees against us today all Carew had to do was stand next to someone and it was a free.We were shighte though.
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11/08/2007 21:33:00

agree wtih dudley_villa, not really progressed and not seen the replay of the free kick, my mate was spitting feathers it was given, looked it to me but from his reaction I'd like to see it again tonight!! was a special free kick, only thing he really did all game, NRC kept him in his pocket the rest of the time.
The Fear
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11/08/2007 21:34:00

Nice report JF - Agree that LPool only had to play most of the game in 3rd gear. We've got a long, long way to go to compete for Europe on this showing. MON will retire from football at the end of this season - just wait and see.
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11/08/2007 21:36:00

drop petrov ffs,an 8 for Barry?I think a 5 at most I hardly saw him.
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11/08/2007 21:37:00

He may come good one day I hope
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11/08/2007 21:41:00

I just don't understand how Petrov can continue to play so badly and get picked - he never even gets sub'd. I think he and O'Neill must be in love! On today's showing we should have kept Davis and dumped Petrov. Maloney is currently a better prospect.
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11/08/2007 21:45:00

Pking - I personally though Barry was again awesome today but unless he gets 2 or 3 better quality players around him in midfield and up front, he'll be away to one of the top Clubs.
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11/08/2007 21:50:00

"He raised his hands and pushed Wilf" Pennant didn't raise his hands, Wilf did, see it again. I agree that the Gerrard foul was harsh, but so was your penalty. It was ball to hand, Carragher didn't know where the ball was, how did Riley think that was intentional I don't know. And to call Riley a scouser ref is hilarious. He usually sends off Liverpool players and give penalties against us, like today. "Steven Gerrard, who to be fair had done very little all game hopefully thanks to Nigel Reo-Coker containing him" Gerrard had two good attempts at goal prior to the free kick, one saved by Gardner's 'balls', the second a good save by your goalkeeper, so Nigel didn't contain him that much. Good luck the rest of the season.
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11/08/2007 21:55:00

The referee was absolutely awful, how can a player be offside when the defending player has the last touch? then should have been sent off for fouling JC. I think the referee should be hung drawn and quatered - petrov won the ball on the edge of the area and gerards momentom carried him in to him. Villa were a little short of Liverpool technically but we deserved a point. Barry, Young, and especially Gabbi were very very quiet although Young come in to the game towards the end. I hate losing to totally wrong decisions from ref's if we were well beaten then fair enought, but we were not and I feel so strongly about how bad the ref was today. Total Shambles.
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11/08/2007 23:10:00

JohnDoe typical scouser, yes the decision would not have been given at anfield, but was a complete and clear cut penalty. full stop no arguement. Not given at Anfield, Old Trafford or maybe Standfor Brigde.
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11/08/2007 23:14:00

O'Neil is in love with the guy
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11/08/2007 23:20:00

KSarge1, There have been many clearer hand balls against the visitors not given at Anfield, so what's your point. My understanding of the rules that there has to be intent when the hand hits the ball otherwise it's ball to hand and not a penalty.
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11/08/2007 23:35:00

Wow are you boys serious with the 10 Vs 12 thing? You were totally fairly beaten, thats the reason we didnt hear a squeak from the Villa fans for the first 45 minutes! Taylor had to make 4 or 5 outstanding saves, the first thing Pepe had to do was pick the ball out of his net after 85 minutes. Come on I quite like Villa, but if you seriously believe you deserved anything less than a loss today you're deluded. It was a pretty soft-free kick, but I remember us losing to United last season because of a soft free-kick and I'm sure you understand just how many soft free-kicks are given each game. If you're basing the whole reason you didnt deserve to lose on a soft free-kick which was then expertly and devastatingly scored by Stevie, then I'm sorry for that. We came with pressure on us, we gifted you a penalty and then we scored a stunning and deserved winner. The reason Villa didnt get a draw was because you didnt deserve one, and the reason we had to rely on a Stevie screamer was because of one man, your goalkeeper. Show a bit of grace in defeat, I expect these excuses of Chelsea but not you guys.
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11/08/2007 23:42:00

Nozz06 good luck in the future, torrres was fantastic 1st half and i concede that on the basis of the 1st half you deserved the points. But why do you always have to devote half your summer tansfer fees on referee bungs to prove your point!
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11/08/2007 23:49:00

We were very disappointing today. Last week we play 'pass and move' but this week just knocked long balls to Carew, which was totally ineffective. Liverpool deserved to win, but I didn't think they were very special either. I thought it was a poor performance from Villa and the only thing worse was Riley's performance. Although Liverpool were better than us we should have gained a point before that awful decision. Even Alan Hansen in his unbaised capacity agreed it should have never been a free kick as Petrov clearly played the ball before Gerrard ran into him. You hope these decisions even themselves over a season, but somehow I doubt it.
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12/08/2007 00:20:00

I went 2 the game 2day thinking the referee's wore black tops. but mike riely obviously forgot to take his liverpool shirt off before the game!!! He was diabolical!!! Having said that Liverpool deserved the win even without the help of the Ref as they outplayed us from ball 1! If we expect to be fighting against teams like Liverpool we need to buy some good signings, but can't see it coming!!!???
ChrisyB's Villa
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12/08/2007 00:36:00

I have to I'm disappointed in MON. Petrov should have been dragged off for shear disinterest. Maloney on for some creativity, surely! Long ball crap is killing me.
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12/08/2007 01:51:00

myleftfoot - totally agree Petrov should have been replaced by Maloney at HT - I just hope O'Neill leaves Petrov out for a few games and lets him earn his place! Hansen admitted on MOD last night that LPool free-kick for their last goal was a mistake and in slow motion it was an obvious hand-ball by Carragher for our pen. So we were robbed of a well deserved point, if only for endeavour, But the quality gap between the 2 teams was enormous in nearly all departments. GET YOUR FINGER OUT O'NEILL AND MAKE SOME QUALITY SIGNINGS OR "GET ON YER BIKE".
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12/08/2007 06:56:00

have to agree with nearly every other post about petrov, and i am really getting sick of MON playing him. I can't believe he got rid of Davis. I dont think Barry was that good either, definately not an 8, likewise Reo Coker he looked lost in the middle didn't break up any play like i hoped he would. Gerrard and Alonso had them in their back pocket. I don't know why we dont just play a 442 like and the end of last season when we looked good, with gabby up front where he plays his best football and young and the right. Petrov needs to go back into the reserves, and Gardner in the middle, Gardner looked great on the ball throughout the game, but was caught out of position on too many occasions as you would expect of a centre mid playing at right back. I like carew, i think he is a good player but i hate the style we play when he is in the team, i'd prefer to see gabby and luke rather than chipping the ball into carew all day, its so predictable. Bouma was woeful, his delivery was shocking i couldn't believe he was upset when he came off he was killing us, but everyone has there off days and if he can play anything like he did at the tail end of last season well do alright All in all, we were poor, but it was mainly because we were playing against a good team. For the last few years we could barely keep possession against the top sides, but we could yesterday to a certain extent, we just didn't do anything with it. But yet again we have failed to beat, or get anything from the top 4. On another note, it was really disappointing seeing the scores of man city, newcastle, sunderland. I watched the city game and all the players Sven signed (without ever seeing them play live), looked quality. Sven may have taken a few risks, and all of them might not work out, but yesterday they looked quality and I think they will get better. Then we have MON signings, the players thet he put endless amounts of reasearch into to be sure that they work out and he gets value for money. Well the problem is here is that they dont look any better for similar amounts of money. Some Id say are possibly really bad signings, Petrov has been useless so far (hopfully he will settle in some time in this centenary, Maloney wants to go back to Celtic, Harewood hasnt had a chance to prove himself but we all know is *****. On the other hand I think Young will be a great signing (one he admits he paid over the odds), and Reo Coker has the potential to be. The point I am trying to make is there are no sure things in football, and in order to do well in anything you have to take risks. The club has given him the backing now it is time to take a few risks and bring some players in even if you have to pay over the odds or bring players in from overseas. Because at the moment every other team is doing this and if we dont, we are at risk of being left behind.
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12/08/2007 08:15:00

Pennant raised no hands. Bouma did. Bouma should have been sent off for the poor challenge and then the raising of hands. Can you tell me how one decision, good or bad, means that a referee is biased towards a certain team?
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12/08/2007 08:59:00

I dont think it was just that one decision, i don't think there was much wrong with that decision it was every other decision that he made. liverpool were given freekicks all game for nothing.
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12/08/2007 09:05:00

Funnily enough villacross, I have a similar feeling, hope we are wrong, hope he gets things sorted, we do need a good manager here for many years to build an empire.
The Fear
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12/08/2007 09:10:00

I guess the vote(s) for Petrov as MOM came from a Bin Dipper.
Villain Of The North
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12/08/2007 09:12:00

Taylor and Gardener were the only decent performers, Reo coker and Barry were ordinary and lost the ball too often although nowhere near as bad as Petrov. Why was Young not started on the wing. Main problems were: Barry trying to do too much( maybe because not enough quality around him), midfield holding hands and bunching up leaving massive gaps in behind, Long balls up to Carew. Liverpool are always ultra defensive and break quick we should have played to counter this not get over hyped because we beat an under strength tired Inter team last week.
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12/08/2007 09:25:00

If you think all the problems are down to Petrov,you are deluded - a lot of poor performances yesterday,quality/motivation and sharpness wasn`t anywhere and i think the Manager made a few scary decisions,main one was that the team shape was a joke and Liverpool loved it.
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12/08/2007 09:27:00

if it's any consalation, it was never a free kick!
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12/08/2007 09:30:00

I agree with Aspinall. This Petrov villification is ridiculous. Most of thier bench would walk into our first team. They have nearly the best midfield in the premiership. What do you expect? Oh yes I forgot - a victory.
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12/08/2007 10:01:00

come on folks!!! its the first game of the season, we have a couple of weeks left in the tranfer window. we was playing Lpool. a team that will be in the top 4. lets put some perspective on this. OH yes please can we stop vilifying Petrov. it seems to me villa fans have always had to have a scape goat. the list is endless of scape goats Petrov is the current one until Harewood plays. The poor lad is on to loser before he even kicks a ball...
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12/08/2007 10:18:00

There were a lot of poor performances for the Liverpool game but Petrov goes missing for far too long in games and was the worst player on the pitch. I honestly don't think we deserved a point and although it quite clearly wasn't a freekick, it was very well taken. If we are going to beat the top four sides at home we have to get in their faces. Never felt that we were going to score until we got the penalty. Why did MON try and play 4-3-3 at times. We need Gabby to play through the middle with Carew and put Young on the right, Barry in the middle with Reo-Coker and Berger on the left and drop Petrov.
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12/08/2007 10:22:00

It was a frustrating game as we looked like boys against men. I will put it down to first game of the season jitters! I do hope Moore gets a starting place up front in our next game and is given the run he deserves. As I have said before, he is our best fininsher so we simply need to play him.
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12/08/2007 10:34:00

exactly ntdes - why didn`t we spend 1st 10 minutes hitting them ? They must have laughed their nads off
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12/08/2007 10:37:00

Moore needs to be starting every game. He had a stormer pre season and then gets dropped to the bench for the opener! We all know he was instrumental in our good start last season and the fact that our decline began when he got injured. The best finisher at the club by a long way. More Moore please Martin.
Adam Deuce
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12/08/2007 12:27:00

jeez there's some over the top reactions on here...its just one game ffs, against one of the top sides. if we did scrape the draw it would be so different on here. i believe in petrov, he will improve, but his time is running out
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12/08/2007 12:37:00

Stig, that is a disgraceful comment. Grow up
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12/08/2007 13:36:00

why didn't MON sub petrov for maloney with even 25 to go?? it is strange this thing with petrov, he has been the same since arriving.
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12/08/2007 13:45:00

here we go again losing to the top 5 clubs, we never looked like winning, we never deserved to win, so all the hype about the new villa revolution is over and we've not improved one bit, we've got Newcastle next, another defeat coming up, we will not be getting in europe this year or next year if MON dosen't sort things out in the transfer market all in all very poor, and I didn't see any signs of hope for the near future!
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12/08/2007 14:20:00

lets not blame the ref! we were second best in every department yesterday, after 29 mins I turned to my son and said we will not score today in open play, there midfield over ran us for 90mins
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12/08/2007 14:24:00

Eltoro, I agree. The way we set up allowed the Liverpool midfield far to much space. That on top of Petrov strolling around lost it.
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12/08/2007 14:36:00

Cant blame the ref. Well we can do, but that attitude and approach will achieve absolutely nothing. Lets look at our own failings. We are not where we need to be, not if we're seriously thinking of challenging for a top six place. New quality signings are imperative, otherwise the better players we currently have, the Gareth Barry's of this world, will become disillusioned and unsettled at more promises broken.
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12/08/2007 15:15:00

Inept squad, make do full back, reserve keeper, poorly prepared, the own goal was the epitome of a badly prepared squad. Lacking in ideas, route one football to an injured striker, never in with a chance in front of a record season ticket and capacity ground. A manager who still picks his first ten regardless of form and injury sticking to 80's tactics, with 80's ideas in 2007. It will get better against poorer opposition when players played are fully fit. If it doesn't ......
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12/08/2007 18:02:00

Petrov aside, less said about him the better.......... The rest of the team only managed to threaten in patches. Bottom line Villas try to hit Carew and see what happens did not work, alas there was not a plan B to fall back on. TBH I would have tossed Marlon Harewood on to give him a go, I honestly thought only four Villa Players earned their wages, under pressure Taylor, Barry, Wilf and Gardener. I was surprised Wilf went as he was trying to link play up the left hand side, alas there was no one to link up with.......
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12/08/2007 18:48:00

I watched the Arsenal Fulham game, and Davis was easily Fulhams best player, i am so *****ed off that he has left.
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13/08/2007 08:10:00

We have the playewrs to give the top teams a good game in my opinion but we have to get the tactics right! The long ball today proved fruitless. I though Barry, petrov and Reo-Coker were pretty uninvolved because the midfield was bypassed going forward most of the time.
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13/08/2007 08:24:00

Understand and appreciate your anger liamo1981, but its all water under the bridge now. Davis is out of here, we have to build and move on. Didn't rate young Steven myself, but am still annoyed we showed him the door without a replacement coming in.
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14/08/2007 19:07:00


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