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

Reading 1 - Aston Villa 2

Madejski Stadium


Attendance: 23 889

Villa Dominate Reading

No doubt we'll have a live match report from our roving reporter Glensider later.

Must say from my armchair position that looked a very professional performance from Villa and will hopefully put to bed their no show against Fulham.

47 points, equal with Liverpool and Everton, surely we can't start to really believe 4th is in our grasp? Well, who knows, the run in for us doesn't look that bad and if we carry on in the manner we played today.... No, I'll not say it! Top six and Europe is very much in our hands though.

From start to finish, and backed up by the stats (61% possession) Villa were in command. There were a fair few chances which went begging and a missed penalty and although Reading at times threatened, the defence were up to the challenge, which is just as well as Scott Carson, from an early shot which he spilled onward, looked a wee bit (copyright MON) shakey.

I must admit I didn't think that Marlon Harewood deserved to be dropped back to the bench when we were all discussing starting line ups in the forum and I thought bringing Gabby straight back in sent him and the others the wrong message. Well, he proved me wrong as that was one of his best performances of the season and although he didn't score, he certainly terrorised the Reading defence.

Ashley Young took his chance with aplomb and the mighty (who'd have thought?) Marlon Harewood took his chance equally well, in fact he took it bloody brilliantly!

Very few complaints at all at the performance today, although it would have been nice to have seen us score the game out of Reading's reach far earlier!

Roll on Arsenal next week, with our spirit who knows what we can get at the Emirates, I'd not be betting against 3 points, that is for sure.

Star Player

Martin Laursen, a total rock.

Agree or disagree? Have your say in our man of the match poll.

Player Ratings

Mr Shakey 5.5

Mr Shakey Of Shakesville today but did also pull off a couple of useful saves. Such a shame, he just doesn't look confident at the moment, he spilled a shot early on and the final minute goal by Reading should have been a bread and butter save. Ho hum, he is young and will no doubt get better,whether at Villa or not is another matter and only MON knows the answer to that.

Craig Gardener 7

No messing.

Martin Laursen 10

Immense and as Ray Wilkins said in commentary, the ball seems to be magnetic whenever it is near him as he always gets it.

Curtis Davies 8


Shaun Maloney 5.5

Very quiet day at the office.

Wilfred Bouma 8

Thought he had a great game today.

Gareth Barry 7

Missed penalty was a shame but his general performance was befitting a captain. Also, the penalty should never have been given so justice was done!

Nigel Hokey-Cokey 7

Little bit in and out but does do the dirty work and apparently was suffering with stomach cramps.

Ashley Young 7.5

Top goal, good performance and will continue to get better and better. Mouthwatering prospect.

Gabby Agbonlahor 8

No goal but a great team contribution. Did actually look up a few times when passing as well, more of that and he'll be even better for us.

John Carew 6

Mixed today, some great points but some of his shots are so tame and with his strength and size he could put himself about more. Hopefully he'll take note from how Harewood uses his assets!

Harewood (on for Maloney 73 minute)

Great goal, great contribution, my word!

Osbourne (on for NRC 86th minute)

Not on long enough to rate.

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The Journalist

Writer: J P Fear Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday February 24 2008

Time: 3:01PM

Your Comments

Mighty Marlon!! he's brilliant, what a great finish and love the fact he gives he shirt away in appreciation to the villa away fans. The interview after the game he looks like a thorughly decent chap not a grumble being sub. Barry had a bit of a nightmare I thought, gave the ball away cheaply sometimes, he scewed the penalty up, but that only due to his high standard of keeping possessesion. Carson my god indecision a plenty and everytime he made a save he put it back in the mix of thinks, great block by Gardener! If he gets in the england squad again i'd be surprised! Cant complain difficult place to go, Reading do not look like a team that will be relegated they put villa under some good pressure. Champs league next season ;-)
If city beat us tomorow, all 4 teams will be on 47 points lol. Carson is not a 10 mil keeper, i can't believe your even thinking about paying that.
who is the 10% that is voting for Carson MOM, my ar se ! or is that what you call sarcastic poll taking?
Maloney 5.5? Disagree I thought he looked lively and added balance to the side. Also Gabby out-scoring Young? Surely not right - is your telly out of focus Mr Fear? Totally agree with all of the negative Carson comments - surely he is no better than Sorenson? Sorry Taylor never looks comfortable to me either.
it's subjective, what Fear says is not Gospel!
Craig Gardener was great today his distribution was first class.
chris the villan
gardener is much too slow to be a right back and struggled against hunt. gabby was brilliant and much better than young i thought. carson was poor again, when they got that free kick i just knew they where going to score for some reason, i should have been our first clean sheet for weeks, and looked dodgy all game kept pushing the ball back into the 6 yard box after every save. i thought bouma was brilliant, didn't put a foot wrong all game he is so good defensively. Laursen and Davies were brilliant at the back. Carew is a big clumsy freak, he was ok, but the commentator here in australia thought he was brilliant my ratings are Carson 5 Bouma 8 Laursen 9 Davies 8 Gardener 5 Young 7 Barry 6 Reo coker 6 Maloney 6 Gabby 8 Carew 6
Fear is ALWAYS Gospel!!!!
pongo wearing
I it is, but some people have a go at poor FEAR for putting out the wrong ratings and at the end of the day he puts it on and lets all us lot decide to, it is down to opinion. For example I thought Carew had quite a good game he took on half the reading defence with some trickery. Must admit the side does look confident at the moment, we been spoilt this season!
Gabby really showed today why he got that England call up in the first place shame he couldnt get a goal. A little stat for you Martin Laursen has won 134 aerial duels in the prem more than any other player. (NOT SURPRISING REALLY).
So close to a clean sheet, damn. If the defence is playing so well we really should be not letting in half as many. Lucky we are scoring so freely.
Laursen is just quality, no nonsense defender, Davies will learn a lot off him. Gabby was scaring the ***** out of Reading defence everytime he turned them they were on the back foot. He looked a lot more refreshed after the break he had, probably a blessing he got that injury and not played and trained ofr england
Was really not impressed with Carson - hopefully just an off day, as we've seen him play better. Other than that I thought we were decent enough. Good performances from Marlon, Gabby, Ashley and super-defender Laursen. Willy Bouma is looking better and better each game too. Sub-standard performance from our captain, but then his standard is high. Carson 4 Bouma 8 Laursen 10 Davies 7 Gardener 5 Young 8 Barry 6 Reo coker 7 Maloney 6 Gabby 9 Carew 6
I don't think it was a substandard game from Barry, he was cool and confident tackled well and aside from one blip passed well too. Funny how people forget stuff unless its incredible or incredibly bad. I also resent the 4 for Carson, I know what people are saying, but did people watch the Blackburn game, Friedel made 3 or 4 very similar saves to those that Carson made today, and then the "pundits" went on to (correctly) talk about how good he was. I'd say it was an average performance, C- and must hold on harder.
Wholeheartedly agree with most of the ratings except on Carew and Maloney. Carew is immense - not only the way he gets on the end of almost everything but also the way he leads the line, can go past people and attracts so much attention from defenders. He cannot "put himself about" so much because he gets called for fouls everytime a defender comes near him...... Maloney worked hard, created, and put in a lively performance.
I thought Gardner played OK but I don't think this should lead us into a false sense of security about the need for a genuine RB. It was clear Reading were targeting him and he did get beat by Hunt and others on a few occasions. No criticism of Gardner though, he is playing out of position and giving his all for the team.
I'd like to add this about free kicks. It is getting harder and harder for keepers to save free kicks. We all know the ball has changed radically since most of us played, and players work VERY hard to hit the spots that are difficult for the GK to reach. One of the pundits over the weekend picked up on this. The free kick that Carson failed to save at Reading hit the inside of the post and went in - it couldn't have been better placed. Not much anyone can do about those ...
Bob, Carson got a hand to it which pushed it onto the post. Like the freekick at Fulham, he should have saved it.
I thought Harewood played a blinder. where the all the Idiots gone who slated him when he signed?????
They are in denial gappy65. The reception that he received was an absolute disgrace, way, way over the top. There's few of the loud mouth brigade to be seen or heard right now though, Marlons attitude and performances has well and truly silenced the boo-boys.

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