Newcastle United 1 (Best 57)
Both teams went into this game unbeaten in the Premier League so far, but with the Magpies four places ahead in the table through an extra victory, with nearly all of Aston Villa’s games being draws. And so it proved today once again.
Despite being dominated for long spells of the game and tailing off pretty badly at the end of each half, Aston Villa held out for another draw, their fourth out of five so far. It was a fairly exciting encounter overall, though in one respects it was like Newcastle United’s previous game against QPR. This time however it was the Magpies who were in the driving seat for much of the game, and would have been almost certainly disappointed to walk away with only a point.
We got off to a much better start than we did in that game with some great pressure. Unfortunately though, it wasn’t to last. Unlike that last game, Aston Villa had Darren Bent and Gabriel Agbonlahor instead of Jay Bothroyd, and as soon as a real chance presented itself to the Villans, the latter of the two made no mistake. After around ten minutes of the game, Gabriel Obertan almost left our former goalkeeper, Shay Given with egg on his face as an attempted forced a tip-over from the Irish shot stopping supremo. Three minutes later though, it was the dominant Magpies who had egg all over as the babovementioned Abonlahor picked up a Bannen cross, holding off Captain Colo to slip in a nice low short range finish in the box. It must be said, or even written, that our defending could have been better there though. Damn and blast it all! Aston Villa 1-0 Newcastle United.
It must almost be written that the goal helped to give some of the momentum back to Villa, for a time anyway, as the Villans kept up the pressure for a while with a few further chances, including a good volley from Bannan which was just wide of the mark.
About twenty five minutes into the game, the action really started to hot up. A good chance for Leon Best sees him striking the ball at Shay Given’s legs, but Best was unfairly ruled to be offside anyway. Going straight up to the other side, Villa goal machine, Darren Bent, missed a great opportunity when it may have been easier just to score. Petrov cut back a lovely pass for him with a more or less open goal at his mercy. Bent hit it wide though with his only defence being, possibly, having a lack of time to react.
It seemed like no time at all before the nearly all the action was at the other end. Firstly a deserved “Man of the Match”, Yohan Cabaye, whipped in an excellent corner which found Steven Taylor lurking to smash an excellent volley at the Villa goal. Unfortunately for us though, shot stopping supremo, Shay Given dug out a save which was as good as the volley itself.
More pressure came for the home side when Cabaye slipped a lovely through ball for Best which was just tipped on to the outside of the near post. Once again though, Best was ruled offside anyway, fairly this time though as he was slightly ahead as the pass was made.
Though Newcastle were once again domninant at this stage, Villa proved that they could still threaten somewhat as Stiliyan Petrov let fly with a big 35 yard volley which flew over the bar. It was still Newcastle who were in the driving seat though, despite still being a goal down with some very good passages of play, much of it involving Cabaye. This was shaping up to be an exciting game as Newcastle strove to restore parity and move on from there.
As the half time whistle loomed, it could have been an own goal from Villa which brought the equaliser for Newcastle. Under pressure from Leon Best, Villa’s James Collins somehow looped the ball over his own shoulder, and almost into his own net but for the alert Given. So it was that despite Newcastle’s undoubted dominance, especially as this half drew to a close, Aston Villa were still maintaining their slender advantage. Half time: Aston Villa 1-0 Newcastle United.
Despite what I have written of the first half though, it seemed as if the second one had hardly got underway when that man, Gabriel Agbonlahor, was at it once again. After receiving a pass from Bent, he held off Danny Simpson to crack off an effort which was just wide. Good work from the recently rejuvenated striker.
Although it seemed like Aston Villa were getting back into the game a bit more since the half time interval, the Yohan Cabaye show was far from over, and the so far elusive equaliser was at last about to come. From out of nowhere, he fired off a great effort which almost cracked Given’s crossbar. Newcastle kept possession on the rebound and a Tiote cross found Leon Best’s head, This second effort once again fails, due to Given rather than the crossbar this time. He spills the ball though and Best remained on hand to pick up sloppy seconds with a very close range shot on the rebound which at last made it all square for the Mags. It was well deserved overall, though Best was stupidly booked for overcelebrating his eighth goal in twelve games, and doubts were raised as to whether he was on side. Aston Villa 1-1 Newcastle United.
Another good chance came for the Magpies around ten minutes later, from Demba Ba this time with a respectable 25 yard strike. Again though, Given was up to the task in the Villa goal. The rest of them were starting to tail off somewhat though and manager, Alex McLeish decides it’s time for some fresh legs, bringing on Stephen Ireland and Marc Albrighton for Barry Bannan and Stiliyan Petrov respectively. Just after that came a more confusing choice from Alan Pardew as he brought off the in form Best for Shola Ameobi with the game still deadlocked. What Best has to do to get a full game I do not know, unless it’s written in his contract somewhere that he is forbidden to play over 75 minutes of a game? His rather stupid yellow card is the only thing I can think of, but I only would have done that if we’d been comfortably ahead.
Once again though, the Villans proved that they certainly weren’t out of the game, Bent lofted the ball over Tim Krul, though thankfully, Steven Taylor being on hand once again to make a last ditch clearence, possibly, though it looked as if it may have hit the bar or gone just wide anyway on second thoughts. Well done anyway Steven, and not for the first time this season either.
A few minutes after this, Alan Pardew decided it was time for another change, bringing on some fresh (frog’s) legs as he subsituted Marveaux for Ba in the eightieth minute of the game. However this just left us with the Fenham Eusebio upfront on his own, and it wasn’t long until Pardew kept it in the family, bringing on Sammy Ameobi to keep his brother company. McLeish also made a final substitution, bringing on Nathan Delfouneso for Darren Bent in the Villa attack.
Coming back to the football itself though, and more specifically the Yohan Cabaye show, the Frenchman cracked off yet another stunning volley to force yet another stunning reflex save from the Emerald Isle’s shotstopping supremo as the final whistle was looming. Cabaye had the final good chance of the game too, teaming up with his recently introduced compatriot, Marveaux, who picked out a good run from Cabaye, finding him with a good pass. However there was to be no great grandsatnd finish from the Magpies as the shot was unfotunately wide.
Final score: Aston Villa 1-1 Newcastle United.
Aston Villa: (4-4-2): Given (G), Hutton, Dunne, Collins, Warnock; Bannan (Albrighton 67), Petrov (Ireland 67), Delph, N’Zogbia; Agbonlahor, Bent (Delfouneso 85).
Subs: Guzan (G), Ireland, Albrighton, Delfouenso, Herd, Lowry, Gardner.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim Krul (G), Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini (C), Ryan Taylor, Gabriel Obertan, Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez, Leon Best (Shola Ameobi 85), Demba Ba (Sylvain Marveaux 80).
Subs: Rob Elliot (G), James Perch, Danny Guthrie, Sylvain Marveaux, Sammy Ameobi, Peter Lovenkrands, Shola Ameobi.
Possession: Aston Villa 45% Newcastle 55%
Attempts on target: A Villa 8, Newcastle 8.
Match highlights and post match interviews
Highlights of the game. As usual, I shall endeavour to post longer ones here if/when they become available.
A frutrated Alan Pardew hails some of his players performnaces, and that of a certain ex Toon goalkeeper too.
Birmingham manager, Alex McLeish, was frustrated too!