Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Aston Martins

Newcastle Utd 2 - 0 Aston Villa

A fine brace from Obafemi Martins ensured Newcastle climbed six places up the Premiership table (and in so doing assumed our rightful place above the Great Unwashed).

With Villa the Premiership's form team going into this match, I (like Ben) was prepared for the worst. However, the green shoots of recovery glimpsed against West Brom proved that they might just be the first sign of an early spring after the Ashley-inspired winter of our discontent.

What we needed if we were to stand any chance against Villa was a team performance, and that's precisely what was delivered - both on the pitch, and in the stands. With ASBO and Butt starting in the centre of midfield and Owen returning to the bench, JFK is clearly starting to see the benefits of having players available after injury and suspension. In truth, not one person had a bad night and with Gutierrez in particular looking lively down the flank.

However, in the first half, Villa certainly gave as good as they got, with Laursen and Young both wasting good chances to open the scoring - the former heading against the woodwork, while the latter fluffed a great opportunity when clean through on goal.

At the other end, Martins looked dangerous, but wasn't quite clicking with his team mates.

ASBO was delivering a typically energetic performance in midfield, and has subsequently managed to generate a massive media storm by touching the face of Gabrial Agbonlahor with his finger tips. Apparently Graham Poll in his infinite wisdom proclaimed to all and sundry watching on Setanta that Barton should have been sent off for that (presumably it equates to three bookable offences) however, Steve Bennett either missed the incident of ignored it, and no action was taken (something which the FA have now confirmed they won't be following up).

Some stirring words at half-time saw the team tighten up at the back, and ASBO finally clicked with Martins, finding the Nigerian with a decent ball which allowed him to turn Nicky Shorey and fire into the corner of the net from just outside the area.

One up and going well, there was always a worry that Villa might catch us on the break, but our defence held firm, and with about ten minutes to go Gutierrez ghosted past Nigel Reo-Coker on the right before cutting in and finding Martins two yards out, allowing the Nigerian to double his tally for the night and secure our first back-to-back wins of the season.

The victory lifts us to fourteenth, which puts a bit of breathing space between us and the bottom three. However, we need to carry on our good form and pick up some more points before we can really start to think we're anywhere near safe.

Other reports: BBC, Guardian


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