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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Aston Villa 1 - West Ham 0

Villa Park

06/10/2007

Attendance: 40 842

Villa Beat Pink & Blues

I got a text after the 1-0 win over West Ham which read: 'I'll take the three points happily but we have GOT to become a 90 minute team'.

And so it continues, a good half - a bad half. BUT the major difference is Villa are now picking up wins where before they'd scrape a draw or take no points with a loss.

Villa started much the brighter and for the duration of the first half we used our pace to really test West Ham. Within the first few minutes we could have gone ahead when a cross (was it Gabby or Young, I forget) to Luke Moore should have resulted in a goal and not the miss-kick that entailed. Moore looks slightly short of confidence and that would have done him the world of good. With luck and a prevailing wind, things will come right for the lad, he is still young and he is still learning.

I don't think anyone could go any further with a match report without mentioning the incompetent referee, Steve Tanner. As Jon.H said in the match stats article comments: 'Just been flicking through my dictionary and under the definition of incompetence it said Steve Tanner.' This ref was truly awful, he did his best to ruin a decent game as he was fussy, blew the whistle for petty fouls and has obviously never heard of the 'keep the game flowing' style of reffing. He also missed three cast iron penalty claims, two for Villa and one for West Ham.

The first claim came for us, when Ashley Young was brought down by Lucas Neill who struggled to keep up with the pacey winger - lets face it, what defender wouldn't have struggled to keep up with him on yesterdays form? The decision from the ref though was a goalkick with Young lying on the floor looking towards the man in blacks direction in disbelief! Next up was a handball, again from Neill that Shearer on MOTD (only two games yesterday and still Villa were last!) said was a certain penalty. Then in the second half our very own Zat Knight wrestled Carlton Cole to the floor, in anyone else's book a sure penalty!

West Ham also had a goal disallowed for hand ball and having seen the replay, the player should have been sent off for blatantly cheating. He just dived with his hand fully out and punched the ball into the net. Not exactly the hand of God eh Camara? Still, karma got the better of him as he left the field on 36 minutes to be replaced by the useless Carlton Cole, who was guilty of missing two great chances.

Villa went ahead through a deflected Craig Gardner free kick on the edge of the box, that was two goals in a week for the young midfielder - who looked more than worthy of his place in the team at the expense of Stiliyan Petrov, and that goal proved enough to make it four wins in a row at Villa Park. The return of the fortress perhaps?

The second half was a far more scrappy affair and West Ham certainly had the best of it. What I couldn't understand was why Villa decided to play so deep? I also couldn't understand why Craig Gardner was brought off and replaced by Stiliyan Petrov but more to the point, why some Villa fans booed the Bulgarian. I even had someone behind me (bearing in mind I sit right by the bench so if I could hear it so could the manager and player) shouting 'MARTIN - NO NO NO'. Not sure how that is going to help a player who is obviously very short on confidence? What is it with fans these days. Surely the golden rule is you NEVER boo your own players, you can slate them before the game, at half time and after the match if you want, but when they are on the pitch, in the claret and blue shirt, they are 'ours' and you support them? Maybe I'm just old fashioned. Or maybe I'm just old! :o(

Anyway, despite maybe riding our luck a bit in the second half, we had the safety net of Carlton Cole leading their line and an unfit Dean Ashton. They could have scored, by the replays Cole should have scored, but all that matters is they didn't score.

Villa got more points and climbed into fifth, if only we'd not blown it against Spurs, we'd have been riding even higher! One thing is sure, we've got a gem in Cole, a real captain in Gareth Barry and some exciting young talent at Villa BUT they HAVE to toughen up and learn to really close down games. That will take time, patience and hopefully some swift action in the next transfer window.

Next up, Manchester United. No problem at all!

West Ham Images on official site
Match stats - Click Here
Managers reactions - Click Here

Star Player

Ashley Young, Gareth Barry, Martin Laursen, take your pick, you'd be right with any of the three!

Player Ratings


Scott Carson 7

didn't have that much to do, what he had to do, he did well.

Olof Mellberg 6

really not at his best at right-back, feel sorry for him being shunted out there. Looks like the old sailor action man with that crew cut as well!

Martin Laursen 9

didn't miss a header all game.

Zat Knight 6

nearly cost us a penalty, think Gary Cahill is head and shoulders above him but then, who cares what I think... best not answer that!?

Wilfred Bouma 6

had a decent game.

Ashley Young 8

first half 9 as he was - as MON said - virtually unplayable. We really do have a star in the making, wish he'd score though as he's in my fantasy team!

Gareth Barry 8

excellent, bossed the midfield.

Craig Gardner 7

really like this guy, he is full bloodied, confident and learning all the time. Could be a fixture in our midfield for a long time to come.

Nigel Hokey-Cokey 5

average performance when most expected him to put in a top show against his former club.

Luke Moore 6

put in the effort, not getting the breaks, should have scored early on. Needs a goal to bolster his confidence.

Gabby Agbonlahor 6

used his pace well and caused their defence some headaches.

Maloney (66, on for Moore)

Didn't really get into the game.

Petrov (78, on for Gardner)

was nervous to see him come on for Gardner, didn't notice too much of him.

Manager Rating

Martin O'Neill. Must be exhausted at the end of games, he never stands still!

Opponent Rating

Big problems for Curbs, can't see him being West Ham boss come next season, my West Ham mate who came to the game with me fears relegation despite the money spent.

The Holte

The Holte. Was able to go in the Holte pub before the game, had a nice drink, beef bap and chips, good company, a chat with the lovely ladies of Villa, Alison Plant and Nicola Keye, what more could you ask for?

Swing Low

What a great sound, to hear Swing Low Sweet Chariot sung from the Holte End, maybe we should adopt the song?! Then roars of England, England all round the stadium with the Hammers fans joining in. Always a GREAT day when the Aussies are beaten, to come home and see the Australian players faces having been beaten by England just put the icing on the cake for a good day out.




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The Journalist

Writer: J P Fear Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday October 7 2007

Time: 1:16PM

Your Comments

Oh Fear, you've gone for the "short on confidence" quote for Luke Moore! What have you done!
murph
Sorry but Barry did not boss the midfield or anything like it.When we were playing well his vision and distribution were top class but in the second half we needed someone in midfield to take contol of the game and push us foward,Barry did not do this and he was not fully concentrating on his defensive responsabilities.
Pking
Big problems for Curbs? We should remember Spam were without some major players. We would be struggling too with similar injuries to key players.
Saurat
I think somebody else may have mentioned it elsewhere but Bowyer spent the afternoon rolling on the floor whenever NRC got within a foot of him, Blatant doesn't even begin to describe his antics. Overall a poor game with a good result. The atmosphere in the Holte was pretty dire until the last ten minutes or so, apart from the Swing Low Sweet Chariot before half time. Also why, with Maloney and Gabby up front did we proceed to pump long balls up field? Upson must have been laughing all the way to the bank being challenged in the air by wee Shaun. However overall it is a good sign that we are winning games even when playing poorly, and I have to say in my opinion Laursen was head and shoulders above anybody else for man of the match.
Jon.H
Thought his control in midfield stopped West Ham ever getting decent service and any rythym, agree first half was best but that counts for all players. I think I'm Barry blind, just think he is an awesome player.

Strikers live on confidence though murph and I'm clutching at straws! lol
The Fear
There is no question that Barry is awsome but at times I dont think he does the captain role and lead the players enough when were retreating towards our own penalty box.
Pking
Again disgusted by the boo's for Petrov. As the majority in the ground were. You could hear a chorus of disapproval all around. Morons.
Adam Deuce
Lausen was gravy yesterday, soooooooooooooooooooo much bottle.
Stig
SauratYes, I think Curbs is going to struggle. Had a good chat with my guest at the game, a Hammer, and it seems all is not glowing at West Ham. You have to remember they've bought a fair few players at very high wages who are all very injury prone, that is why they are missing!
The Fear
Agree Stig, he came off to have his bandage put on and the chap didn't seem to give a damn about all the blood, was just hurrying them up to get him back on. Within a few mins of being back on he did a diving header. The bloke has real balls!
The Fear
What did others make of the Hokey-Cokey yesterday? Thought he was pretty tame, although it is true every time he went near Bowyer the dirty git took a dive. Was willing NRC to get a goal, that would have really made the day great!!!!!!
The Fear
I'm a big Barry fan but thought he was distinctly average yesterday. Laursen was immense. Young was exciting. I think it was a pretty poor match though, and I would say the Hammers controlled the second half without ever really threatening. I'm fairly sure the stats on the VP screen said only two shots on target for us? Like others here, I was appalled by the Petrov 'greeting'.
VillaYamYam
Barry or Moore can do no wrong no matter how they perform. I'd have Maloney starting instead of Moore, he deserves a chance. Did anyone notice Gabby should have squared for Shaun late on for a opne goal. If Gabby could look up occasionally he'd be even better!
tarzan
I thought Maloney looked to have a few decent touches when he came on - I really think he should be the next guy to get a few games under his belt when we get the opportunity. Signs of real class there i'm convinced....
YatesyVillain
I think Maloney deserves a start, he was quality again when he came on. I'm one of Petrov's biggest critics but i was disgusted at the boo's that rang out around VP on saturday. how is this guy going to improve and find form if *****s around the ground boo him before he kicks a ball. I think MON has realised his mistake with Marlon! FINALLY!!!! Great 3 points UTV
*Holte*End*Star*
expensive mistake though....4million squid....ouch
YatesyVillain
To be fair, Petrov did ok when he came on. Booing him was unforgivable, he's wearing a Villa shirt so you support the guy. Maloney should be starting games now, he looks good on the ball, very composed.
astonmilan
Petrov, Harewood, there were murmurings of discontent about Big JC before his untimely injury. Its the Villa Park way, always has been, always will be. Agree that Shaun Maloney deserves a run now. He looks decent enough in his limited appearances as substitute, lets now see what he can do when given a starting role.
glensider
All is definitely not well at Upton Park. Lot of cash splashed out on questionable, injury prone signings, with so far little return. Curbs could well be walking a tightrope if results dont start going his way reasonably quickly.
glensider
 

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