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Villa 2 Rovers 0


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A controversial penalty 5 minutes before half time turned this afternoons game in Villa's favour, as Rovers lost this premiership game 2-0.

Villa went in at half-time 1-0 after the linesman had flagged for a penalty when Andre Ooijer was alleged to have handled Sutton's cross.

Villa's Pablo Angel made it 2-0 five minutes into the second half when first Gray and then Khizanishvili failed to clear the ball from the area.

Rovers themselves had a good shout in the second half for a penalty, when a Villa player handled a Rovers free kick, however on this occation neither the referee or linesman saw it.

Match Comments by AESF

Perhaps one or two of the Rovers players who disgraced themselves at Villa Park on Sunday, may well have benefited from a short sharp dose of the hairdryer from Mr Hughes.

I don't know if Hughes had a pop at them after the match. But in my opinion, he bloody well ought to have done. Because the performance, just like the shambles at Upton Park a week earlier, was completely unacceptable in my view.

Managers can hide behind excuses such as tiredness and injuries, but nothing excuses the woeful lack of effort - indeed the downright contempt that the Rovers players displayed for the fans who had travelled to Villa Park. A team, which as Tris rightly says, couldn't be arsed to perform on Sunday. They lack the individual motivation and the sense of responsibility to put in the required 100% effort in run of the mill Premiership matches.

Our defence, previously a strong point of Mark Hughes's management, is now letting us down on a regular basis. After the three previous Premiership matches in a row where Rovers conceded soft goals at corners through dreadful marking, we also now have individual players (namely Zurab) guilty of ridiculous schoolboy errors when in possession of the ball in the penalty box, gifting Villa a goal on Sunday.

In midfield our problems are evident for all to see. None of the present team can tackle properly. Mokoena is useless in a midfield four. If I had my way he'd be booted back off to South Africa in January. We're relying on a 36-year-old to provide any semblance of creativity. When Tugay is shackled, as he was on Sunday, then the midfield has bugger all creativity. There's nobody else with the vision and ingenuity to create enough quality clear-cut chances.

Finally, the two up front:

(Tris @ Nov 5 2006, 22:24 )

The starting front two were hopeless - Jeffers was a slight improvement but for me this is a big problem area.

I'm pleased that Tris and Bing have both recognised how ineffective and idle this pair were on Sunday. It was like a return to the bad old days of Dwight Yorke. I haven't been convinced so far by Mr Nonda and although Benni McCarthy has scored some important goals for us, he can and SHOULD be doing more for us in certain games.

At the very highest level, strikers need to do more than just score every couple of games. They need to work their balls off, link up the play and create space and chances for others. I'm afraid I'm not one of those who feels that the sun shines out of Benni's black backside. The top managers in the world will tell you that it's not enough just to score every so often, if you don't also put in the required effort at all times for the overall good of the team.

We've had much debate in recent months about attendances, culminating in a very disappointing crowd at home to Basle last week. While not defending the stay-aways, perhaps it's to a certain extent understandable if some fans can't be bothered to attend, when they see players (earning lucrative seven-figure salaries) who can't be arsed to put in the effort on the pitch.

In the match prior to Basle, the Rovers players put in a disgraceful first-half display against West Ham. Perhaps some fans who saw that horrendous performance at Upton Park thought to themselves: "Why should I pay money to watch this type of rubbish."

After three successive Premiership defeats, Mark Hughes needs to get back to basics and spell out in no uncertain terms to the players that they have a duty to wear the blue and white shirt with pride - and a lack of effort from anybody is completely unacceptable.

Mark Hughes post match comment:

"We think the penalty is a poor decision from the referee and his assistant.

"They are paid to get big decisions right - he didn't get that one right. At that time, we were comfortable.

"Then in the second half, Petrov has made a movement to the ball with his elbow. It struck his elbow, but the referee doesn't give that one."

Villa manager Martin O'Neill on the penalty decisions:

"I have seen the penalty again and also the incident where Petrov was involved. If you give one, you probably have to give the other.

"Some people said it was a very soft penalty - I've seen them given, but if that's the case, Petrov's is the same.

Villa: Sorensen, Hughes, Mellberg, Laursen, Bouma, Agbonlahor, Petrov, McCann, Barry, Angel, Sutton (Baros 90).

Subs Not Used: Taylor, Davis, Cahill, Osbourne.

Booked: Sutton.

Goals: Barry 41 pen, Angel 50.

Rovers: Friedel, Neill (Henchoz 85), Khizanishvili, Ooijer, Gray, Bentley, Mokoena, Tugay (Peter 61), Pedersen, Nonda, McCarthy (Jeffers 61).

Subs Not Used: Brown, McEveley.

Booked: Ooijer, Khizanishvili, Mokoena.

Att: 30,089

Ref: H Webb

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