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Aston Villa 3 - Brighton & Hove Albion 2

Villa Park

23/01/2010

Attendance: 39 750

Quality Wins Out In Villa FA Cup Win

Well, I enjoyed that FA Cup day out. I went down with low hopes for a good crowd and was very pleasantly surprised, as were the players according to the very complimentary to the fans Martin O'Neill. Always lovely to hear the boss compliment us! Must say well done to the club and consumer sales manager for pitching the price spot on for the game, it - along with the great game v Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday night - certainly helped get to just shy of 40 000 fans.

The Brighton & Hove Albion fans, who were at least 6500 strong, also added to the occasion and helped dispel this myth that the FA cup has lost it's gloss. It hasn't, it is a great historic cup and to be fair, the League Cup, now the 'big' clubs are back taking it a bit more seriously is also getting a better profile again.

The start could not have been better for Villa, we had a brave selection from MON, especially as this cup is so important (despite already being in one final) to the club and also the boss who is missing an FA Cup win on his record. If we'd lost no doubt the doom mongers would have been out saying he'd done the wrong thing, so it was 'brave' to rest some key players, a few due to injury niggles but I'd bet they would have been rested anyway. If we had gone out you still would have been a fool to blame the team selection, we've called out for years for strength in depth, we've now got it and many also call for the kids to get more chances, well yesterday they got their chance and three of them took the chance with both hands.

Yup, right from the start the quality was there and a very smart run by Marc Albrighton and a lovely cross resulted in a real strikers goal by Nathan Delfouneso. Now I'm not going to start to criticise the three main line strikers too much here, things are good at Villa at the moment, there are plenty of opportunities to be negative and this isn't one of them BUT they could ALL look at the movement and positioning of The Fonz for that goal. He got IN FRONT of the Brighton & Hove Albion defenders and virtually tapped the ball in. That is what Shearer, Owen, Fowler, Sutton, Ruud van Nistelrooy etc did in their pomp. Fonz, what a prospect! He also had another good chance AND another where he hit the post. This lad - introduced at the right pace as he will be - could be the real deal for us.

The sad thing was Albrighton who has waited patiently for his chance then got injured setting up the goal and the poor lad looked gutted as he walked passed us fans having been subbed with James Milner. Marc, in that one move you showed what we have there, you'll get plenty more chances and we'll be there supporting you when you do (sick bag inducing maybe, but true!?)

Anyway, Milner stayed on the wing in the first half and then crucially moved back to his new and very much best position (he was saying in the week that he loves the freedom in the middle to get forward and set up chances/shoot more so he obviously agrees with this move) and was very influential on the game.

Brighton & Hove Albion could have been overawed by the big stadium, the mass of Villa fans (although their fans were very loud and all credit to them!) and by going one down but to be fair to them, they kept going and we sort of invited them to score a goal having not cleared one corner well we then did it again. 1-1 at half time but even then, I wasn't really that worried. Some were moaning in the concourse (read bogs) at half time but then, some would moan if we were 10 up?

The second half started brightly, a great cross in - Downing I think? Pretty sure, I could be wrong - who floated the ball perfectly for Ashley Young to score a lovely header. Yeah, read it again, Ashley Young to score a lovely header, even he looked surprised in his celebration. Quality the way he got the height on it to float over the keeper, the good thing for Villa is this young winger is starting to rise in confidence. Oh, I say winger, he was played up front yesterday and didn't let us down.

I don't make notes of times and all the challenges, chances and incidents, I started doing that a few years ago for match reports and found that a) I was missing parts of the game and it became 'work' b) my reports were coming out like all the main BBC/Sky etc ones, that isn't what a fans site / report should be in my opinion... there, I've covered myself and copped out really! LOL. However we did have chances to put the game out of sight, The Fonz certainly hit the post and had another chance well saved and the very impressive former Leeds United youngster Fabian Delph also had a chance saved and was a constant thread - boy oh boy, he also isn't afraid of a tackle or two is he?! Anyway, he finally got a chance with plenty still to do skipped through the defence and buried it beyond the keeper. I'll again mention that the three main line strikers could take note of the fact this lad ran TOWARDS the opponents goal, didn't look to pass but to get into the box and SHOOT. Lovely goal, 3-1 and all over.

Well, ok, this is Villa. Rarely do we do anything to save the poor fans from heart attacks and we did allow a sloppy injury time goal to give us a few moments of worry, the last thing we needed was a replay on top of an already hectic schedule of games and happily, we didn't.

3-2 was the final score, BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION players and fans made a great account of themselves but the quality as Brighton manager Gus Poyet said at the end of the game, did tell in the end. It was always going to wasn't it? Well no, not in a cup game, anything can and as we saw on Wednesday night often does happen.

I'm loving this season, there are the usual ups and downs but I'm here for the ride, no bigger picture is needed to be looked at when you are in the 5th round of the FA Cup, the Carling Cup final and a Wednesday night win v Arsenal (yes, I know, easier said than done but we've done it before we'll do it again) to go 4th.

Star Player

Delph and Delfouneso

Player Ratings


Brad Guzan 6

having a bit of a wobble maybe, pulled off one great save that I can remember and lets face it, the lad is young and learning, he isn't going to be perfect all the time.

Habib Beye 6

was surprisingly in the centre, did he move over in the 2nd half, not totally sure? Oh yes, sorry, he did when Davies came on as Warnock was replaced. Didn't let us down though, good squad player, would look silly to sell him to Sunderland?

James Collins 6

solid in the tackle and headers but think right for all to get 6 as we did let two goals in!?

Luke Young 6.5

so much better playing a right-back at right back, also got forward quite well. I like Luke, he does what it says on the tin, like a Mr Ronseal really!

Stephen Warnock 6

not sure if he was injured? Not totally on his game.

Fabian Delph 8.5

lovely match, lovely goal, lovely future, young and a massive career ahead of him. Come to think of it, I think I hate him!!!!!

Marc Albrighton 8

such a lovely start, gutted he had to come off but not marking him down for that!

Steve Sidwell 5.5

not looking for the 'one' to moan about but Sidders had a good chance to impress yesterday but really didn't. He did break up some of the play in the centre and wasn't a disaster but I'd expected so much more from this signing. Then again, hard to just come on after not playing for a while and be 'at it' straight away. Oh hang on, Albrighton, The Fonz and Delph all did and they have less experience. Ok, I retract (which makes you wonder why I didn't just use my delete button really!)

Stewart Downing 8

quality, will he push for a World Cup place? On that cross alone he might be worth a shot! Think a few more practice sessions for his volley's though! :o)

Ashley Young 8

much much better, looks to really be getting back on top of his game.

Nathan Delfouneso 8.5

could be a star this lad, hopefully we'll see a few more starts for him and more especially more sub appearances to blood him into the PL.

James Milner 8 (on for Marc Albrighton 13)

showed how much better he is in the centre having played the first half on the wing (still good on the wing, don't get me wrong!)

Curtis Davies 7 (on for Warnock 50)

didn't let us down on his return.

Ciaran Clarke (on for Ash 86)

not on long enough to rate.

Manager Rating

MON. Brave selection and so nice to hear him praising the fans and mentioning the fact it was a top effort as money is scarce at present for many.

Opponent Rating

Brighton & Hove Albion manager Gus Poyet, full of the spirit of football, looked at our bench when they got one foul laughing that no way was it a foul, then laughed again and pretended to zip his mouth up! Also had a few smiles for the Villa fans, always shows a bit of quality that. And admitted at the end it was always going to be tough for them v a quality side like Villa. Made a very good account of themselves nevertheless.

Ratings Defined

1) Totally awful, had a mare, should be taken out and shot, 2) Awful, but not usual standard, 3) Very poor, needs to improve quickly 4) Poor, below the standard expected, 5) Average, the least expected, 6) Better than average, but in patches only, 7) Good, generally decent performance, 8) Very good, above the standard, standing out at times, 9) Excellent, stood out all match, 10) Outstanding (aka Paul McGrath!). Truly commanded the match, stunning.




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The Journalist

Writer: J P Fear Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday January 24 2010

Time: 11:46AM

Your Comments

Great report. Even more gutted I had to miss this one now. I thought Delph was brilliant against Blackburn in the last round of the FA Cup. I see a long future for Milner & Delph in the centre for Villa. Exciting times indeed.
Adam Deuce
You are totally correct about the way The Fonz took his goal, even if he missed he did what a natural goalscorer would do, almost exactly what our other 'three non scoring strikers' would not have done
ant1ant1
Delph and the Fonz may not be the finished article - but they could be, given the experience. And even now, I am 100% convinced that Aston Villa Football Club would be come so much better if they were both in the first team immeduately. The benefit of having skilful players who are comfortable on the ball would bring so much more variety into our play and would hugely help Ashley, Petrov, Milner, and Downing to become much better and much more effective than they already are. We would complement our brilliant defence and very good midfield with the 2 players on our books who may just make the whole team the one we have been waiting to see. I cannot understand why this has not happened when you see the quality they can bring to the team. Let them be given the time to settle and work their magic. The Fonz on his own up front, and Delph joining our current regular midfield foursome would offer mass flexibility, skill and entertainment. They may not be the finished article, but they are already massively better than Gabby and Heskey. It of course will not happen, although hopefully that might start getting a few minutes more (than the none they currently get in League games) to show what they can do. We know what G & H can do, and it has some plus points, but it is the stand out weak area of our team and there is no prospect in my view that it will get any better - they simply have their limitations. The Fonz for Gabby would be my number one change to improve Villa, closely followed by Delph for Heskey. Luke Young at right back would complete a fantastic team that MON has assembled, but is frustratingly taking ages to finally put in place. Our attack, when upp against a massed defence (as against on the break) is totally laboured and predictable and I do not want to wait for the next few goal streak from Gabby to start going OTT about his abilities and continue to leave him in the team for ever. He has immense speed, he is Villa through and through, but he simply is not an incisive striker. I know there is meant to be our time of a feel good factor. But we are so near, MON has brought us so far, but we are being let down by our current forwards, and his intransigence to give anyone but Gabby a try. In terms of the conributions of our front men there was no real difference between the performances against Arsemal (0), Liverpool (0), West Ham (0), and Blackburn (the 6 goal thriller) with the exception of one deliciously neat Heskey goal created by Milner. Their contribution was simply not enough for suposed top-line strikers. They bring about a pattern of play that could be massively improved for the better.
stennyvilla
Interesting stuff, Milner would then be free to take a Gerrard type role in fornt of Delph and Petrov and behind the striker, his shooting and passing and general all round energy and driving force of the team is starting to look very Gerrard-ish
ant1ant1
Good report Mr Fear & I also enjoyed it, more so the 2nd half with Milner & Delph pulling the strings...I thought it was a big chance for Sidwell to show us a little something but unfortunately in my opinion was hugely dissapointing when you consider what the Fonz Delph & even Albrighton(in just 8 mins)managed. Was pleased yo se LY at right back & I would like him to stay there, & just as good to see Curtis back on the pitch who will complement our choice of centre halves in what is a seriously strong area for us. Was hoping to see a little more of Clark again but not everyone can be given a run I spose. Good day, good crowd, right result, lookin fwd to wednesday now.
marcobavfc
as you say, now Wednesday match v Arsenal to look forward to, coming thick and fast! Sidders has disappointed, shame as I thought that was a good signing, maybe he'll still click!? (Ever the optimist) So we have Wolves or Palace in the next round, interesting times!
The Fear
Time to reflect after a few days away and a fantastic FA cup result against Brighton ..... but Please Please Please .... I REALLY HOPE MON plays Brad SENIOR in the Leauge cup FINAL .... against either Manc side they will have a party if Brad JUNIOR is in goal .... responsible for at least 2 of the goals against Blackburn ..... HOWEVER I'm still FRILLED to bits we are in the Final and Drawn Wolves/Palace in the FA Cup... Now just the LITTLE task of beating the Arse on Wednesday eh ???
tvrwhitey
Beating the Arse, you say. I hope we're talking about football here and not what the Tories do for pleasure!
Rawlie
Good job i didnt say Spanking the Arsenal - lol
tvrwhitey
 

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