since 1878

Aston Villa (1) 2 - 1 (1) Ipswich Town

FA Barclaycard Premiership 2001-02

Monday, December 17, 2001

Referee: M Dean

Manager: Unknown

Villa Park

Attendance: 29,320

Manager: George Burley

Match Number: 2927


 Finidi George 






















Match Report

Unfortunate Town on wrong end of the scoreline

Ipswich lost to Aston Villa 2-1 last night at Villa Park. Despite actually taking the lead for the first in yonks, the Blues still managed to find themselves on the wrong end of the scoreline depite being the better team...

I'm having to laugh in the face of this defeat, it's the only way to keep any sort of sanity. Ipswich went to Villa Park determined to go for a win, and should have found it. They dominated the match, creating more chances and looked more like the home team. But amazingly, once again we were cursed by bad fortune as Villa stole the points courtousy of a defleted shot. Injuries continue to dog our season, and before the game Marcus Bent hurt his back in a training and was relegated to the bench. Alun Armstrong and Richard Naylor led the front line. There was no place again for Sixto Peralta, as Jim Magilton played in the centre of midfield. Finidi and Jamma were used as the wide men. The game got of to a sluggish start, in front of a quiet and subdued Villa Park. Ipswich gradually begun to take control, though neither team looked like scoring. Then in the seventeenth minute, Finidi George showed what he can be capable of. After a Villa pass was cut out by Makin, the ball was played to Finidi in the centre of the park. The Nigerian hesitated looking to pass wide, but with nothing on, he changed his mind and fired a hard low shot that curled into the bottom corner of the net past an outstretched Schmeichel. For once, real hope and optermism that we may be turning a corner, filled the following faithful. Villa had one good opportunity to find an equiliser, when Merson fired wide fromclose range. But all in all, Town were on top and looking like adding a second. Venus blasted a free kick wide, and Jermaine Wright poked in a shot that Schmeichel just scrambled away. Just as we were hoping we could take our important lead into the second half, Villa scored in the 43rd minute. Town failed to clear Villa's first corner of the match, with Sereni initially failing to claim the ball, and then Naylor making a complete hash of an attempted punt up the field. The ball was swung straight back in the danger area by Staunton, and Angel just managed to head past Sereni. It goes without saying that this goal should never have happened, and Town's inability to defend a straight forward corner had cost us dear again. There was almost an inevitability about the goal when it arrived, and already you could sense it was going to turn into one of those nights. The second half started with no changes to either teams. Villa came out and for ten minutes had their best period of the match. But slowly Town began to dominate midfield and were once again on top. Veno came close with another free kick, and then make a great challenge at the other end to disposes Paul Merson. It was looking increasingly like the next goal would win it, and in the 69th minute, Villa scored the winner. A quick break found Angel in space down the right flank. McGreal came across to challenge just as Angel shot, and ball cruelly cannoned of the Ipswich defender, looped over Sereni and into the back of the net. Technically this was an own goal- the ball was never going in, but crediting McGreal with an OG would be harsh. As usual, we saved our best until last, when time was running out. Good crosses came in from Clapham and Jamma, but either no one got on the end of them, or Naylor wasted the opportunity. Jermaine Wright nearly scored a spectacular volley that had Schmeichel rooted to the spot, but agonisingly it was millimetres wide. Clapham blazed wide after a good move split the Villa defence wide open, and again Naylor should have done better with his head. The final whistle came all to quickly, and with it another wasted opportunity to get some points. I don't think we are ever destined to beat Villa. For the third time in as many matches they've been crap and beaten us. This was not a poor Ipswich performance, and if we weren't stuck on nine points, it would be very encouraging. On this match it's hard to understand why Villa are so high in the table and we're not. I don't want to just blame bad fortune for our position, that would be rather nieve. But this run of bad luck is reaching truely staggering proportions. George Burley faced the TV interviewers with a brave face. He said football sometimes kicks you in the teeth, and you have to take in on the chin and get on with it- that's football. However, teams just don't have the bad luck we're having for such a sustained period. Even the poorest of teams would win more than one in seventeen, the laws of average would see to that. It would almost be easier to take if we were just plain useless. Then we could at least have a real go at the players and the management. But I can't see any point in that. If I was to question the tactics, it would be the exclusion of Sixto Peralta, although to be fair to Magilton, he enjoyed his best match for a long time. Our strikers still don't look like scoring, and I'd have played Counago or even Darren Bent instead of Armstrong or Naylor. They both worked hard, but Naylor was again guilty of missing good chances. But overall, we were better than Villa and the effort was there. Next season, in all probabiltiy we will be travelling a bit further up the M6 to the slightly less glamorous surroundings of Walsall. But at least there will be a livelier atmosphere down at the Bescott. The way the Villa fans react to their own team is quiet amazing- anyone think it was them heading back to the Nationwide. At times the half empty stadium had an almost eery feeling, it was so deafly quiet (when they weren't jeering their own team). They almost seemed dissapointed to snatch the win, they would have been far happier with something to moan about.

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