Date:Thursday February 2 2012
Firstly, apologies to everyone for the lateness and shortness of this report, I`ve been at uni all morning and it`s the first week back so I`m still getting used to everything again!
I hate to sound too self-congratulatory but well done to all those who braved the weather to attend last night. Taking everything into consideration I thought that getting 32,000 through the gates was quite a good achievement.
Those that did come were treated to a cracking game, which included quite a few treats, like Darren Bent`s 100th Premier League goal and Charles N`Zogbia`s first for the claret and blue.
It was a game that, in all honesty, Villa should have won, in spite of the fact that QPR did do a good job in the first half. Djibril Cisse predictably scored on his debut to put the Londoners a goal up, before Stephen Warnock was kind enough to give them a helping hand with an exquisite header into the bottom corner.
I was only joking in my Everton match report when I said that Warnock might need to be marked by a Villa defender in future, but it might be something that requires some serious thought from now on.
To Villa`s credit, that own goal did seem to bring out a really good response and it lead to Paddy Kenny making a save from Richard Dunne before Robbie Keane had an effort deflected onto the bar.
It seemed that the pressure was starting to have a telling effect on QPR and this finally came to fruition shortly before half-time as Alan Hutton slid a good ball into the box for Darren Bent to tap in his personal milestone and halve the deficit. I`ve always said that that Hutton bloke could do a decent job for us…
Villa had an absolute stormer in the second half, putting together some great passages of play to look genuinely threatening for most of the half. Petrov and Keane both had brilliant chances saved and QPR were tremendously jammy with the amount of handball appeals that they got away with, which at the last count I think stood at about 257, all to no avail of course thanks to what I can only assume to be a partially sighted referee.
Things could have got worse before they got better though, thanks to a ball that was fizzed across the box twice by QPR from opposite directions that the attackers failed to connect with.
Thankfully though, that was QPR`s only real chance of the second half and was quickly followed by Charles N`Zogbia`s long-awaited first Villa goal, a very nicely struck volley that nestled into the corner. It could have got worse for them, but Tommy Smith produced a goal line clearance from a Darren Bent header to ensure that QPR came away from Villa Park with a share of the spoils.
Kudos today (yesterday even) to Stephen Ireland who, despite misplacing a few passes, made the kind of intelligent, defence probing runs that really unsettled QPR at times and that is something that Villa have missed for a very long time. A deserving man of the match, I think.
Not the world`s best performance then, but there can surely be no denying that there were plenty of positives to take out of this game, especially in the second half. Newcastle on Sunday is going to be a very tough game indeed, but I would hope that, for the players, professional pride will kick in and they will want to take some revenge for the 6-0 thrashing we received last time we went to that place.
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Date:Thursday February 2 2012
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