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Monday, August 16, 1999 Published at 21:13 GMT 22:13 UK

Sinclair silences Villa Park

Dion Dublin fires home from a tight angle to give Villa a fifth minute lead

Aston Villa 2-2 West Ham

Trevor Sinclair struck a stunning equaliser deep into injury time to prevent Aston Villa from going back to the top of the Premiership table.

Mike Ingham: "Villa came as close as possible to preserving their 100% record"
Dion Dublin's double had looked like taking the home side above perennial title rivals Manchester United and Arsenal in the early season standings.

But Sinclair, who stood out for West Ham during an absorbing contest, had other ideas.

[ image: Generation gap: Julian Joachim takes evasive action as Stuart Pearce dives in]
Generation gap: Julian Joachim takes evasive action as Stuart Pearce dives in
He finished off a flowing move to level the match, in the process wrecking the last two 100% records in the Premiership.

With 92 minutes on the clock and Villa playing out time, Frank Lampard sparked a swift counter-attack with a ball to Paolo Wanchope's feet on the edge of the area.

The Costan Rican striker beat his marker Ugo Ehiogu with a sublime back heel into the path of Sinclair, who finished the move with a flourish, curling the ball around a despairing David James.

Dublin double top

Villa had looked well set set for a third successive victory after dominating most of the second half.

John Gregory's side showed much of the style and sharpness of a year ago, when they dominated the early stages of last season only to see their Premiership challenge fade away.

[ image: Midfield tussle: West Ham's John Moncur skips past Ian Taylor]
Midfield tussle: West Ham's John Moncur skips past Ian Taylor
Dublin was a dominant force up front and during an impressive second half he was ably supported by the livewire duo Julian Joachim and substitute Lee Hendrie.

The former Coventry striker opened the scoring in the fifth minute - only to see his efforts cancelled out two minutes later by a own goal from his captain Gareth Southgate.

The opener came early, when Joachim crossed from the left for Dublin, who beat Rio Ferdinand before smacking the ball past Hammers keeper Shaka Hislop at the near post.

Sucker punch

Ninety seconds later, though, and the home faithful were silenced.

Alan Thompson's sloppy clearance from near the byline fell at Foe's feet - but there looked to be no danger as the Cameroon international tried his luck from 25 yards.

James seemed to have the shot covered but Southgate stuck a boot in the path of the low drive and diverted it beyond his keeper and inside the near post.

Villa were unable to force their way back in front in the first half, George Boateng firing straight at Hislop.

Dion does it again

Villa stormed out of the blocks after the interval and West Ham's injury-ravaged defence was left in a state of mayhem by Dublin's swashbuckling forward play.

[ image: Ian Taylor and Marc Vivien Foe go shoulder to shoulder]
Ian Taylor and Marc Vivien Foe go shoulder to shoulder
Dublin powered a header over the bar after good work from Joachim on the left flank had left the visiting defence stranded.

The England centre-forward was then denied by Hislop's point-blank save - although a late flag ensured the chance would not have counted.

But it was third time lucky for Dublin in the 52nd minute.

A corner created more havoc in the Hammers defence and Dublin was the first to respond, hitting the ricochet high into the roof of the net.

Hislop then produced a flying save to deny Alan Wright's speculative effort as Villa surged on.

Southgate came close to an unwelcome double when he deflected Trevor Sinclair's 20-yard effort - but fortunately for the England defender it spun over the bar.

James - a close season signing from Liverpool - endeared himself to the Villa fans with a brilliant double save 15 minutes from time.

First he flung himself headlong across his line to somehow prevent Wanchope from scoring from a perfect position, then he stayed alert to hold Foe's follow-up.

When James produced another comfortable save from Wanchope's header it looked like he had played a major part in victory number three.

But Sinclair - and West Ham - were not to be denied.


Aston Villa: James, Wright, Southgate, Ehiogu, Boateng, Taylor, Dublin, Thompson, Joachim, Delaney, Calderwood. Subs: Merson, Hendrie, Ghrayib, Stone, Oakes.

West Ham: Hislop, Pearce, Potts, Sinclair, Di Canio, Wanchope, Foe, Ferdinand, Moncur, Lampard, Minto. Subs: Keller, Kitson, Carrick, Cole, Forrest.

Referee: M Riley (Leeds)

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