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Carew heads Villa vital victory

Aston Villa
1 - 0

Villa Park


Attendance: 35,852


John Carew`s second half header ensured that Villa`s impressive run continued with a one-nil win over the Potters. The Norwegian held off Abdoulaye Faye to nod in Ashley Young`s cross but Stoke will feel very aggrieved after replays show that the goal was very similar to Mama Sidibe`s ruled out effort.

Tony Pulis made 4 changes from the side that drew at home to Wigan last week. At the back Robert Huth was suspended after being handed a one match ban and so was replaced by Danny Higginbotham, who made a rare start. Danny Collins also returned to the side after Ryan Shawcross missed out due to injury and he partnered Ab Faye at centre half. Glenn Whelan, who scored a last minute equaliser in this fixture last season, replaced Rory Delap in midfield and Ricardo Fuller dropped to the bench in order to make way for Mama Sidibe to play alongside Tuncay.

Villa pushed early and Thomas Sorensen was called into action as he made a crucial double save to first deny Stewart Downing from 20 yards and then Gabby Agbonlahor on the follow up. The Dane looked in fine form following his in-different display last week.

The Potters then started to attack themselves as Tuncay combined with Sidibe to set-up Whitehead but his shot was comfortably saved by Friedel. Villa then suffered an injury blow as Emile Heskey was forced to come off after and was replaced by John Carew who was forced on to partner Agbonlahor upfront.

Stoke kept the pressure on the home side and it looked as if they took the lead before half-time. Sidibe used all his height and strength to power his header from a left-wing cross past Friedel but the referee wrongly ruled it out, as he punished big Mama for pushing the Villa defence while in the air.

Both sides created good opportunities in the second half but Stoke`s lack of goals started to become evident as they didn`t convert one of their decent chances. Andy Wilkinson and Glenn Whelan went close but it was Villa who broke the deadlock.

Against the run of play Ashley Young darted down the right hand side and planted a cross straight on the head of Carew who out muscled Faye and headed the ball into the back of the net. Carew wheeled away in delight at scoring in his 3rd consecutive game against the Potters and even gave the corner flag a boot before watching sail away into the crowd.

Tuncay and Etherington had good chances late on for the Potters but Villa held on to 4th in the table and cement their place in the top 4 for the time being. Stoke remain 11th but are now just 5 points ahead of the relegation zone but do have a game in hand. Next up for the Potters is a trip up to Eastland`s on Boxing Day to take on Roberto Mancini`s Manchester City in his first match in charge.

Star Player

Tuncay- Created problems for the Villa back line all day seemed comfortable partnering Sidibe. Another justified performance by the Turk as he continues to impress manager Pulis.

Player Ratings

Aston Villa: Friedel, Young, Cuellar, Dunne, Warnock, Young, Petrov (c), Milner, Downing (Sidwell 81), Agbonlahor, Heskey (Carew 23). Subs not Used: Guzan, Beye, Collins, Reo-Coker, Delph.

Stoke: Sorensen, Wilkinson, Collins, Ab Faye (c), Higginbotham, Whitehead, Diao (Fuller 76), Whelan (Delap 84), Etherington, Tuncay, Sidibe (Beattie 84). Subs not used: Simonsen, Pugh, Cort, Lawrence.

Writer:Charlie Bennett
Date:Monday December 21 2009
Time: 1:03PM


Interesting to read a report from the 'other side'. I was very impressed with Stoke on Saturday. At times, Villa threatened to play some great passing football (like the goal) but Stoke never allowed them to build up 'any steam or momentum' and attacked with great pace and vigour themselves. An old fashioned English type of game. With the disallowed goal the whistle went very early, before the ball was in the net, so I never had that 'sinking feeling'. At the time I thought it was the correct decision, but after looking at replays, i would concede we were perhaps a little fortunate, although full marks to Stephen Warnock for accentuating the contact! One thing I can't agree with though was that our goal was against the run of play. Certainly can't agree there, Stoke played well, but Friedel basically had very little to do. Probably down the excellence of our back 4, which is special. Villa always had that extra attacking flair and creativity, IMO. Great result for us, and a good performance from you guys. Obviously an improving side. I can't see Stoke being remotely near the relegation battle on that performance
21/12/2009 14:49:00
It is nice to hear that Stoke were adventurous away from home that is rare in its self. Villa look a strong outfit and and we gave them a good game which was pointed out as the Villa earamarked this as their toughest this week. Not looking foprward to City this weekend. We always seem to get a mauling when a new manager is in charge.
22/12/2009 10:33:00
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