Writer: J P Fear
Date:Saturday February 11 2006
Attendance: 37 140
Third game of the season, first bad result. I would like to take the opportunity to thank Mr Ellis for building such a vast stadium as Villa Park before building a team to draw in the punters, for ex-pat brummies who happen to find themselves occasionally in the old city it's comforting to know you can always rock up on the day and be pretty much guaranteed a seat.
Anyway, thought it an entertaining if deeply frustrating game of football. O'Leary was without most if not all of his first choice midfield so scratched a side out with Hendrie and Barry wide with Whittingham and Gardiner on his debut in the middle. Bravely, and correctly he stuck with the pairing of Moore and Philips up front
leaving the aliceband twins on the bench.
Villa started quite sluggishly and what became apparent was the inexperience of the youthful Whitts and Gardiner in the centre was being overrun by a very impressive Emre and Parker, this meant Hendrie drifting in to help out leaving large gaps on the outside for the Newcastle left midfield to exploit. It also meant little supply to Phillips, who dropped further and further deep and was eventually substituted, and the ever willing Luke Moore. Solano showed some nice touches and a couple of zinging crosses, unfortunately.
Newcastle scored, Moore scored, Newcastle scored again.
The introduction of Baros and Angel upfront for Phillips and Gardiner, who looks 'one for the future' to me meant Moore dropping to right midfield and Hendrie moving to the middle. Immediately we looked a different proposition, Angel getting the better of Boumsong and Bramble in the air, Baros's tricky feet causing problems on the deck. But more importantly the midfield could compete.
Thus followed a period of excellent villa pressure which yielded a penalty, scuffed towards Givens feet by Milan, who took the ball out of Moores hands. The tempo was kept up and it only looked like we would score until a dirty cheating Geordie feigned injury and the delay took the wind out of the villa sails. Still had
time for Angel to be denied with a dipping volley by Given and Ridge to hit the bar with a bullet of header.
All in all an entertaining game with a thoroughly disappointing outcome.
But as someone once said, you'll win nothing with kids (in the centre of midfield).
Something that will never cease to amaze me is how inadequate catering is at football in general and especially Villa park. Last week they ran out of lager today they ran out of pies. It's the hassled look of surprise on the probably underpaid youngsters behind the counter that gets me. As if a rush of people wanting to be served at about 3.45 could not have been predicted.
By Des Willie
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Date:Saturday February 11 2006
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