Tuesday 20th March 2001, 7pm
Fine and wind-free for once, but bitingly cold.
Aston Villa 0
A corner from the Villa left was sent over by Standing and flicked on by
Moore at the near post. Cooke was on hand in the centre of the goal to
finish with a rudimentary headed goal from close range. 0-1
Aston Villa 1
16 mins Debutant Cowan found himself
the furthest man forward down the United right as he chased a diagonal
crossfield ball from Glass. His challenging header on a closing defender saw
the ball continue forward into the Villa box, but it ran out before Cowan
could gain control.
30 mins The lively Moore burst down the Villa left and rounded
McGuffie, despite the United player grabbing a handful of his shirt. His low
cross passed dangerously across the United six yard line and was shepherded
out for a corner by Beharall.
37 mins Bobby Robson took his seat in the stand. He'd missed nowt.
39 mins A speculative effort from Bonvin was diverted for a corner as
the home side finally seemed to be waking up. From Boyd's setpiece, McGuffie
climbed highest at the far post but his header was placed well wide - a poor
imitation of Gary Caldwell.
41 mins A long ball out of defence from Beharall reached Coppinger,
and he juggled the ball at his feet on the edge of the box before producing
a weak shot that the visiting keeper gathered without difficulty.
43 mins Hylton and Mealugh sandwiched Gavilan in midfield to give
away a free kick, the Paraguayan having picked up a miscued pass from a
Villa defender. McClen wasted no time in whipping the ball out to the right,
where Cowan returned it low and hard towards the Villa front post. A corner
was won, but again came to precisely nought.
49 mins Coppinger and Bonvin combined on the left edge of the Villa
box, only for the latter to blaze his shot embarrassingly wide of the
57 mins Opening goal for Villa (see above)
60 mins More danger from the visitors through Bewers, who latched on to
a pass to smartly turn inside a defender to the right of Karelse's goal and
try a shot from 15 yards that the keeper was able to block.
80 mins After a stream of poor challenges and one warning from the
lenient official, Jay Smith was finally shown the yellow card after dumping
Boyd on his backside in the centre circle.
86 mins A good save was required from Karelse as the United defence
allowed Moore a sight of goal, the Dutch keeper flinging himself to his left
and palming away a strong shot.
90 mins Gavilan roused himself from his slumbers for the only time in
the game as his twisting run took him past a number of defenders. However,
in keeping with the team performance on the night, he placed his low shot
well wide of the Villa goal.
A despondent Tommy Craig told
"That was a bad performance, we were poor throughout and didn't play
at anywhere near the level we've shown recently."
"The biggest problem was that our passing game was lacking at times,
there wasn't a lot happening out there. There were no runs from us or
shots on goal, overall it was a poor performance and i'm disappointed
considering the way we've been playing recently."
"Having been in the bottom three of the reserves league all season we
had the chance to push up into the top five and didn't take it. We failed
to take the opportunity."
cobblers i'm afraid. Barely a single memorable moment to report upon for
the black and whites all evening, as a couple of team changes turned a
winning side into a motley collection of directionless individuals.
Gary Caldwell's promotion to the Scotland U21 squad meant that McGuffie
moved into the centre of defence and at right back David Cowan graduated
to the reserve side after four previous non-playing sub
appearance. While the newcomer didn't do an awful lot wrong on his
debut, the defence as a whole looked uneasy and McGuffie and Beharall in
the centre didn't exude confidence. To complete the defensive ensemble,
Stephen Glass hung around on the left flank but failed to contribute much
to the backline, or the forwards to be honest.
Up front, Coppinger looked thoroughly miserable throughout, and was
partnered by Bonvin, who had looked good against Liverpool playing in the
"hole" behind Cort and LuaLua. Unfortunately this game again
proved that the Argentinean is not a natural centre forward.....
With Gavilan back to his worst, it was left to the engine room of McClen
and Boyd to try and provide a basis for mounting attacks, and the odd
decent piece of play was swamped by over-hit passes and frequent loss of possession.
The belated introduction of LuaLua for the invisible Dimas at least gave
the crowd something to whisper about, but unfortunately after a few
seconds of trying to pass the ball, "little treasure" reverted
to type and tried to dribble through the whole Villa team. Whether the
shouts of encouragement from the crowd were to blame for this is unclear,
but he looked again far from the £2m plus player he should be.
On this evidence, the sooner this season of inconsistency comes to an end
the better. The lads looked a thousand miles away from what they'd been in
previous weeks, and a total failure to create chances or test the Villa
goalkeeper was the most disturbing element, in stark contrast to our
deserved 3-1 victory at Villa Park barely six weeks ago. If mitigating
circumstances could be pinpointed, only five of the starting XI in the
home game were those who started at Villa, but that's a thin excuse.
We now have only one home game, left against Manchester United, (plus the
Senior Cup final, assuming we can topple the might of Ponteland) and three
trips to Yorkshire. Next Tuesday sees us at Bootham Crescent, York, against
Leeds, then we travel to the two clubs below us in the league - Bradford
and Sheffield Wednesday. At the time of writing the Owls have managed
precisely two draws and thirteen defeats from their 15 games; it would sum
up our season perfectly if we became the Hillsborough fall