Date: 26th January 2008 at 6:40pm
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Martin O’Neill has spoken to on the 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers.

The Villa boss explained that at half time they decided to make changes to go for the win:

‘At half-time we tried to get some more width to our game and Ashley into the game more. He produced a wonderful goal and we could have won it after that. Marlon had a header hit the bar, we had a disallowed goal and Ashley saw another free-kick just narrowly miss. But it wasn’t to be. Scott made a great save from the penalty in the first half, although I have watched the incident again and I think it is a pretty harsh decision. If we had been awarded a similar one at the other end, I would have counted myself very lucky.’

He also said it was a battle and he was happy to get something out of the game.

‘Blackburn made it difficult for us. People forget that if they had hung on for the win, they would have been level on points with us. We had a chance to go fourth but that’s gone now. These games are really tough.’

Mark Hughes disagrees and says Blackburn deserved the win. He told their official site

‘Although this hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for us, and beforehand we would probably have taken a point, I thought we deserved all three. We changed our shape and system to try and counteract their threat while creating an attacking threat of our own and it worked well.’ Adding ‘There were some big performances individually, many of them from players who were carrying knocks and slight injuries. We’ve played twelve Premier League away games now and lost only twice. When you consider that one of those was at Old Trafford it shows how well we have done on our travels. We need to replicate that sort of return at home and we’ll be looking to do so against Everton next weekend.’

He also explained his five man midfield tactics ‘We set out to counter Villa’s threat from set-pieced and I think I’m right in saying that no-one has scored more than them in such situations this season. Although they equalised from one, I thought we handled it well, and to be honest I thought the award of the free-kick that lead to their goal was a little harsh. We would call it a soft free-kick.’


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