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Aston Villa v Spurs, 02.11.14

(4 PM)

Villa scorer:-
Weimann, 16

Spurs scorers:-
Chadli, 84
Kane, 90

Attendance:- 32,049

Referee:- Neil Swarbrick
Assistants:- S Long & A Halliday
Fourth official:- R Madley

Aston Villa (4-2-3-1):- Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar (Capt.), Baker, Cissokho (sub Bent, 93); Westwood, Sanchez; Weimann (sub Richardson, 86), N’Zogbia (sub Agbonlahor, 74), Cleverley; Benteke

Subs not used:- Given; Clark, Senderos; Cole

Booked:- Cissokho (foul on Mason), Weimann (foul on Mason), Sanchez (foul on Townsend)

Sent off:- (65) Benteke (violent conduct)

Spurs (4-4-2):- Lloris; Naughton, Kaboul (Capt.), Vertonghen, Rose; Eriksen (sub Lamela, 46), Capoue (sub Townsend, 72), Mason, Chadli; Soldado, Adebayor (sub Kane, 58)

Subs not used:- Vorm; Fazio; Dembele, Stambouli

Booked:- Eriksen (foul on N’Zogbia), Vertonghen (foul on Westwood), Chadli (foul on Westwood)

Harry Kane – Spurs’ hero of Villa Park!

Just when I was filled with dread at the prospect of an under par performance and result at Villa Park, up popped substitute Harry Kane to score his first Premier League goal of the season, with a cracking 90th minute free kick from 25 yards. Kane, who was cheered onto the pitch by Spurs fans, as Adebayor had been booed off, raced to the corner and dived Klinsmann style in glorious celebration. Why, Kane even wears the same number 18, as did Klinsmann in 94-95.

Nobody is going to suggest that Kane is to be compared with a World class striker and player such as Klinsmann, but Harry has been the talk of the town this week; by the press, and in the stands. Spurs fans were chanting Kane’s name in the first half, and he wasn’t even one of three Spurs subs warming up. “He’s one of our own! Harry Kane, he’s one of our own” “Harry, Harry Kane, Harry, Harry Kane”, and so on. These chants were of course repeated when that goal went in.

The match had been preceded by an immaculate one minute silence in memory of the fallen, although, in truth, the silence was actually filled by a lone cornet player, who filled the stadium with an impeccable Last Post.

Villa have now lost six consecutive league games, and six consecutive matches against Spurs, but at least, for the first time in those games, they did get a goal today. They might have had a couple of others too, after Spurs, who had started quite brightly, plainly fizzled out, and left too many gaps, particularly on the left. This was not the fault of left back Danny Rose, who was asked to commit himself forward constantly, no doubt primarily because we didn’t have a winger, or a natural wide player of any description.

Mauricio Pochettino’s initial team selection warrants criticism really. Whilst he did adopt an attacking 4-4-2 style, which is quite bold on away territory, he didn’t pick the right players. In particular, there was no winger, and not enough flair to take us forward, with Lamela, and Townsend on the bench. Eventually, the presence of those two as second half substitutes did lead to us breaking the Villa defence. Mind you, by the time we scored, Villa had been reduced to ten men through the indiscipline of Christian Benteke, caught with his hands raised right in front of the dug-outs, and of course the fourth official. Benteke’s infringement may have cost Villa the game.

Spurs had gone into today’s game in 14th place, thanks to yesterday’s results, and a defeat would have left us in 15th place, below Villa, and, with Crystal Palace playing tomorrow, the week-end could have got even worse. As it is, we have returned to the top half, in 8th place, level on points with Liverpool, and above Everton and Man Utd. Whilst there is plenty to contemplate after today, we can at least breathe and relax until next Sunday’s Premier League game!

There were plenty of empty seats at Villa Park today, with an attendance some 12,000 below capacity. 6 consecutive league defeats bear a cost.

Spurs had a great chance inside the first minute, when after a cross from the left, Adebayor teed up Soldado, who hit a powerfully driven shot, but it passed outside Guzan’s right post in front of the Holte End. It was another 6 minutes before we forged another opportunity. Adebayor sent Chadli away down the right channel. Chadli returned the cross, and Adebayor’s effort on goal resulted in a Spurs corner. Unfortunately, Eriksen was rarely able to lift a corner over the first defender, but he did have a shot blocked after 10 minutes, following a Danny Rose cross. Rose was one of our most effective attackers in that period. The only trouble was that with Rose committed, N’Zogbia had space down the right, and when he crossed, Benteke headed powerfully wide of the back post.

Rose made a good interception inside the Villa half, with the resulting ball reaching Ryan Mason. Both Mason and Soldado had shots blocked, before Chadli headed wide. England international Tom Cleverley got to the bye-line on the left of the area, cutting the ball back to Benteke, whose left foot shot hit the outside of Lloris’s right post, with the goalkeeper beaten.

Then, after another N’Zogbia cross from the right wing, in too much space, Weimann fired home with his right foot for his first goal since August, and Villa’s first goal in 6 weeks.

Adebayor headed on a long ball to Soldado, who fed Chadli, making his way into the area, before having a shot deflected for a corner. Ryan Mason was fouled on the right-hand side, and Eriksen’s free kick found Chadli at the back post. Ultimately, Kaboul had two nibbles at the ball, but it was cleared by Guzan and his defence. A Spurs throw on the right-hand side was worked inside and crossed to Soldado at the near post, but his attempt on goal was simply woeful, and more suited to a rugby field. Adebayor was almost through on goal after another long ball, but he didn’t make the best of a one-on-one situation, allowing Guzan to save, winning only a corner.

Villa’s right back took advantage of that space on Spurs’ left, hitting a shot which was deflected then cleared shakily by the Spurs defence.

Cissokho was penalised by both a free kick and a yellow card for a foul on Mason, making ground on the right, towards the Villa area. Eriksen’s free kick was poor. Villa countered and Spurs were grateful for Vertonghen’s interception. The ball was then sent to Adebayor down the middle, and Rose was chasing down the left to receive his pass. Rose’s cross was well held by Guzan. Benteke had another good chance with a cross coming from the left. The Belgian rose un-challenged, but headed wide.

Lamela disappeared down the tunnel earlier than the other substitutes and it was clear he was going to be an early replacement. I thought it would be Eriksen, and so it proved. Chadli moved to the right flank, and Lamela started on the left. It took a while for this change to take any effect though. Spurs made a break on 51 minutes, with Soldado sending Chadli down the right. Chadli got into the box, and hit a shot which Guzan could not hold cleanly, but Adebayor’s attempted follow-up at the near post went wide, perhaps after a rebound off the keeper and a desperate Villa defender.

Now Adebayor was replaced by Kane, and almost immediately he had some effect, as Soldado put him clear. Harry got almost to the bye line and won a corner with his cross. The corner was taken by Lamela, and Vertonghen’s header was held by the keeper.

Villa fans wanted more than the yellow card shown to Vertonghen for his challenge on Westwood in the midfield, and were than angered even more when their man Benteke did see red (literally) after a melee near the dug-outs after 63 minutes. Benteke was sent off after due consideration by the officials and a little time taken to calm down the situation.

Lamela tested Guzan after a run from the left and a right footed shot, before Guzan got to the ball before Chadli could reach another pass by Soldado. Capoue was replaced by Townsend, who took over on the right, with Lamela inside him and Chadli now operating on the left flank. It was left to Ryan Mason to hold the fort in front of the back four. Paul Lambert replaced N’Zogbia with Agbonlahor.

In the early part of the second half, with nothing happening for Spurs, the fans wheeled out a couple of the more negative chants. “We want our Tottenham back” and “We want Levy out” were chanted with gusto. The mood changed with the later substitutions of Kane and Townsend. Whilst Villa were getting all their men behind the ball, Spurs were at least posing a threat. They got a reward in the 84th minute, after Lamela took a corner on the right, and Chadli fired home from the back of the area.

Agbonlahor did break down the right flank with his pace, and found Cissokho in too much space towards the left of the area. Cissokho’s shot passed harmlessly wide of Lloris’s right post.

Villa’s Sanchez was booked for his foul on Townsend as he advanced upon the Villa area in the middle. Harry Kane stepped up to take the free kick, which took a deflection off Nathan Baker in the wall, leaving Guzan wrong-footed and beaten as the ball hit the top of the net. The goal will go down as Harry Kane’s, and he has been accorded hero status by those present, and by Sky TV, who no doubt felt the match-winner deserved the accolade. Maybe Harry will have better days, but I am sure he will always remember this goal. Spurs fans certainly will!

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