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'The Boys Done Good'

'The Boys Done Good'

By Steve Wade

Superb result for Villa and a very professional job done.

For most of the 90 minutes the game was locked into a tactical stalemate, with Villa showing the bits and pieces of quality on view and had to find a bit of heart when the goal, their best bit of quality created, was wrongly adjudged to be off-side - cruel luck for Villa's Angel. The luck balanced itself out moments later however, when Hull's very decent penalty appeal was
turned down but a goal for Hull at that stage would have been nothing short of diabolical.

Hull must have been very pleased to reach half-time level, while Villa must have been frustrated by the poor quality they had produced in the last third, as they failed to convert good approach work into goals, after they flashed several shots well wide or put them straight down the throat of goalkeeper Myhill, which he dealt with routinely. Villa might have wished at this stage that the number of corners could be taken into account, as they had notched up double-figures over the first half.

Villa's disciplined but undynamic tactics were severely tested in the first ten minutes of the second half, as Hull came back from the interval with a spring in their step and a lot more determination and adventure but despite some rather desperate defending from Villa's back four, when they were unable to clear their lines, Hull's moment consisted of a header which was easily cleared off the line and another header which whizzed past, wide of the post. Hull's moment was over and now it was up to Villa to try and create something, once they had reasserted control.

Villa's midfield seems to consist of too many players of the same sort, all capable of covering large areas of the pitch on their day but only Hendrie ever seemed to get his head up to see where his team-mates were and so Villa seemed terribly wasteful with possession and always lacking with the final ball. James Milner gives the team long periods of possession, which is a
tremendous advantage, but his end-product was mostly lacking. Villa's front two didn't produce the sort of movement, which might have caused real problems for Hull's defenders and Villa's habit of sending in hopeful
flighted crosses, negated the technical edge Villa seemed to demonstrate when they played it along the ground.

It was a superb mazy run from Barry for his goal but his shot was actually going straight at the goalkeeper before it took the vital deflection into the top corner. Hull were a bit unlucky and on another day, could have
scraped a draw but having lost several of their more effective players to injury, found that it just wasn't their time. Villa looked less than brilliant but were at least tactically cohesive and defensively disciplined
enough for them to negotiate the BBC's banana-skin and delay their cup exit for at least another round or two.

Hull were very gracious in their defeat and I thought Villa's Delaney was the man of the match. James Milner needs to produce a bit more of an end product before he will enjoy promotion into the full England squad but he
got through a mountain of work.

From this evidence, O'Leary is doing a decent job with a very unspectacular bunch of players and bearing this in mind, the boys done good.
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Writer:J P Fear
Date:Saturday January 7 2006
Time: 6:48PM

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