Villa Express Rolls on at Ewood Park
With both teams in good form, and confident after midweek cup wins, the game between fourth placed Aston Villa and 18th placed Blackburn Rovers proved to be a fiesty controversial encounter. Blackburn welcomed David Dunn into the starting line up, who slotted in on the left flank, with Morten Gamst shifting over to the right flank, replacing the injured Brett Emerton. El Hadji Diouf started on the bench.
It was Aston Villa who took charge from the outset, with Heskey having the first attempt on goal, only for it to be blocked out. Villa continued to push on, with Agbonlahor and Young's pace troubling the Rovers defence on either flank. In the first of many controversial moments, the travelling Villa fans were left bewildered as to why Emile Heskey's chested goal from a Milner free kick was dissalowed by the referee. It was later made clear that the goal was disallowed for a push in the back, rather then a hand ball, Villa could count themselves unlucky.
Rovers started to up the tempo, however the only method into the Villa 18 yard box was route 1. A nice interplay between Benni and Jason Roberts found Robbo back to goal, who flicked a back heel onto the path of Morten Gamst, whose effort was blasted wide of the goal. Slack Rovers marking put Villa ahead in the 25th minute. A short corner taken by Villa set James Milner free, who avoided the first defender in David Dunn, blasting into the far corner of the goal from outside the penalty box. 1-0 Villa
Curtis Davies almost made it 2-0 for Villa minutes later. A delightful corner from Ashley Young found an unmarked Davies, who pounced ahead of Nelsen, however his header glanced wide of the far post. Rovers then had firm claims for a penalty. A clearing header was popped back into the goal mouth, finding the chest of Benni McCarthy. Gareth Barry appeared to be all over Benni, who lost control of the ball, Benni however did not go to ground, and attempted to scissor kick, however his effort flew into the grand stands. Aston Villa were once again denied a goal by the official with only minutes left in the first half. Agbonlahor was set free, and blasted the ball in the back of the net, however, he was ruled fractionally offside. Half Time, Rovers-0, Villa 1
Rovers made two changes at the break, with Tugay and El Hadji Diouf coming on for David Dunn and the ineffectual Keith Andrews.
Rovers started to play with more width on the pitch, with El Hadji finding space on the left flank. However, it was Villa once again who were creating all the chances. Agbonlahor came close twice, blasting 1 effort wide of the goal, and the second cleared of the line by Grella. In what was a sloppy second half, Rovers continued to play a direct style of football, whilst Villa's fast creative approach appeared to trouble the Rovers defence. Andre Oijer picked up a head gash, whilst Warnock was cleaned up in a tackle. Roque then came on for Jason Roberts, who only moments later was unluckily not awarded a penalty for what once again appeared to be a blatant tug of the shirt in the box.
Benni continued to run around in the box, however, his first touch wasnt up to his usual standard. Rovers best chance in the game fell to Roque Santa Cruz. Roque held up the ball outside the box, and was given space by the defence. He blasted a shot which swerved just outside the far post. Rovers had another claim for a penalty, a delightful long ball by Tugay almost put Roque in the clear, however an outstretched arm from the Villa central defender appeared to strike Roque in the face, who then went down. No penalty....
With Rovers finally pushing up in search of an equalizer, Aston Villa and Agbonlahor got their due rewards in the 90th minute, with a deflected shot of Nelsen leaving Robinson stranded, 2-0 Villa Full Time
Really was the only player playing at his best, chased well, kept Agbonlahor and Heskey under control, deserved better then conceding 2 goals
Paul Robinson 6
Ryan Nelsen 8
Chris Samba 7
Steven Warnock 7
Andre Oijer 7.5
Keith Andrews 5
David Dunn 6.5
Vince Grella 7
Morten Gamst 6.5
Jason Roberts 6
Benni McCarthy 6.5
El Hadji Diouf 7
Roque and JR going down too easily
These are good 1 on 1 opportunities. Sorry I might sound critical, but comon lads, no need to take it over the top, take these chances and dont go down!!!!