Date: 7th January 2006 at 5:14pm
Written by:

Only one statistic matters. 1-0 to the Villa. And for once, Villa won at a stroll. Ok, we dominated without truly menacing, but again, only one statistic matters. We won. This was a cup game and we have been awful in recent years having been turned over by the likes of Sheffield United, Burnley and more recently the humiliation at the hands of Doncaster Rovers. Today was yet another no win situation for our under pressure manager (not necessarily under pressure from Doug, but certainly under pressure from the fans!). Why a no win situation? Well, if you win everyone says so you blinking well should, if you lose the calls for his tenure as Villa boss would have increased ten fold.

The full stats for the game are available at: showing 55% possession and 13 corners for Villa. We dominated alright. But as said, we rarely terrorised. Now I could go off on that thread and say that we should be killing teams like this; but this is the FA Cup, I’m in a great mood as we progress to the 4th round for the first time since 2001 and the weaknesses are pretty obvious. Will we have to play better to get something against West Ham? You bet, does that really matter today? No, lets just enjoy the win. (Oh, and the latest poll on the front of astonvilla.vitalfootball is asking how far we will get in the Cup, so give it a quick click!)

We certainly could have had more goals today, in fact we did have more goals, if not for a poor refereeing decision. Milner crossed the ball, Hendrie stepped over it and Angel slotted it away with some style. Offside said the assistant ref. NO WAY said the many replays and the Villa faithful at the KC. Then Hull went straight up the other end and Barry pulled Price down in the box and most were amazed when the ref waved play on. 1-1 in bad decisions.

The gulf in class was there to be seen and with the valuation of the Villa team said to be around £21 million and Hull’s at £575k that was no great surprise. What did surprise me was that Hull only seemed to remember it was a cup game in small patches. When they did remember and started to rough it up and whip the high balls in, they had a few decent chances – one of which was cleared off the line by Hendrie, another being well saved at short range by Sorenson. Villa looked like they had another gear to step up into, Hull looked like they lacked belief and even when Villa visibly tired in the second half, Hull still didn’t do enough to compete.

Throughout the game – and especially in the first half, Milner and Hendrie looked totally up for it, Davis looked industrious and had two good chances, the one a long range shot being well saved by the impressive Villa old boy Boaz Myhill, another hit just too high. In fact, Villa were given far too much respect and too much space, they were allowed time on the ball and with a bit more of a cutting edge and maybe a pass or two less, the damage could have been far worse for Hull. One goal isn’t always enough, today it was and the goal came from Gareth Barry who was once again playing at left back. He was given acres of space from just passed the half way line, ran around four or five of the Tigers with ease, got a rare right footed shot off – which took a nice deflection leaving Myhill no chance – and off he went to celebrate. Job done. Could it have been done in more style? Yes. Does it matter? Not today it doesn’t!

Player Ratings

Sorenson 8.
Did all he needed to do and blocked a very good chance.

Barry 8.
Plenty of industry, did get caught for pace at one stage, but managed to foul the player, take a yellow and avoid the danger from Price. Great run for the goal.

Mellberg 8.
He wasn’t allowing any mistakes today.

Delaney 8.
Why hasn’t he been played in the centre more often? Great performance and never afraid to tackle.

Hughes 7.5.
Mr Dependable.

Hendrie 8.
A rare high rating from me, but this is the Hendrie you would want in your side week in and week out.

Milner 8.
Just buy him.

Davis 8.
Great shot well saved, plenty of industry today.

McCann 8.
Does the scruffy stuff so well.

Angel 6.
Great goal (wrongly disallowed), but despite not much supply, really didn’t do much to try to terrorise their defenders, could have contributed far more.

Moore 6.
Didn’t use his strength of pace, these are the games he has to start proving himself in. Same as Angel could have contributed more.

Manager Rating
O’Leary. Down to just 16 fit players, got the result he so needed. Will have certainly got a stay of execution now. Bad decision to sell Myhill a few years back!