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Page last updated at 14:39 GMT, Saturday, 10 January 2009

Aston Villa 2-1 West Brom

By Steve Marshall

Scott Carson
Carson stares in disbelief after scoring the own goal which doubled Villa's lead

Curtis Davies' header and a Scott Carson own goal sent Aston Villa third in the Premier League with victory in the Midlands derby against West Brom.

Davies returned to haunt his old club by stooping to nod Villa in front from Gareth Barry's right-wing cross against the run of play.

Villa doubled their lead when Carson let a low cross from Gabriel Agbonlahor squirm under his body and into the net.

James Morrison pulled one back but West Brom rarely looked like equalising.

Villa went into the first Premier League game of 2009 knowing that victory would take them back into the top three until at least after Manchester United's clash with Chelsea on Sunday.

But despite their lowly league position it was West Brom who started the brighter only to fail to make the most of their early possession.

Borja Valero wasted the game's first opening, curling a shot high and wide from 15 yards following a Jonathan Greening corner.

O'Neill delighted with West Brom win

Robert Koren then burst on to a Jay Simpson pass but was frustrated to see a deflected shot held by Brad Friedel.

But against the run of play it was the home side who took the lead in the 19th minute after Paul Robinson needlessly conceded a corner.

The Baggies twice escaped when first Morrison and then Greening cleared off the line from Steve Sidwell following Barry's flag kick.

But when Barry was given the chance to deliver another cross, Davies reacted quickest to beat Carson.

With Villa having won all their previous Premier League matches in which they had scored first, the omens did not look good for West Brom.

They could have fallen further behind minutes later when Ashley Young curled a wicked right-foot effort inches wide from the edge of the box, with Carson beaten.

And the unmarked Sidwell should have doubled their lead when he side-footed wastefully wide from 18 yards after ghosting forward to meet James Milner's low pass.

Mowbray feels lack of attacking threat

After surviving those scares Morrison wasted a chance to level when he could only head straight at Friedel from 12 yards from Robinson's pinpoint cross.

He was made to pay four minutes before the break when a dreadful error by Carson, who spent last season on loan at Villa, gifted the home side a second.

Agbonlahor had no support from his team-mates when he cut in from the left but Carson gave him a helping hand by allowing the striker's low cross to squirm under his body and over the line.

Milner went close to making it three with a stinging long-range drive that flew narrowly over but the game turned on Baggies boss Tony Mowbray's decision to bring on Roman Bednar at half-time in place of Luke Moore.

It was a move that paid instant dividends as Bednar nodded into the path of Morrison, who turned inside Laursen before beating Friedel from 18 yards with the aid of a deflection.

West Brom were back in the game but they needed Carson to atone for his earlier error with two fine saves to prevent Villa from re-establishing their two-goal advantage.

606: DEBATE
VillaVillaVillaVilla
Ashley Young and Sidwell were both denied by the Baggies keeper, while Barry also headed wide as Villa tried to reassert their authority.

The visitors replied, with Bednar warming Friedel's gloves with a stinging drive but they seemed to have lost their impetus once Morrison limped off midway through the sesond half.

Instead it was Villa who went closest to extending their lead at the death, with Agbonlahor fizzing a shot across the face of goal.

West Brom thought they might have won a penalty deep into stoppage time when Bednar and then Koren tumbled in the box, but referee Steve Bennett waved away their appeals and awarded a corner.


Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill:
"Gabriel Agbonlahor played when really a lot of lesser people wouldn't have bothered turning up."

"He has been ill all week, he's only done 10 minutes training and yet he's declared himself fit.

"He did brilliantly and he deserves that goal."

West Brom boss Tony Mowbray:
"We have always been vulnerable to set plays and Scott Carson is disappointed with the second goal.

"In football you need to get people to do their jobs at both ends.

"At one end you need people to score goals and to get rid of it at the other.

"Over the piece we were more than a match for Aston Villa but ultimately we got no points.

"It comes down to quality and our biggest threat was probably a 20-year-old from Arsenal (Jay Simpson).

"We have been looking for that quality in the final third to put teams to the sword."


Aston Villa: Friedel, Reo-Coker, Davies, Laursen, Luke Young, Sidwell (Cuellar 86), Petrov, Barry, Milner, Agbonlahor, Ashley Young.
Subs Not Used: Guzan, Harewood, Delfouneso, Knight, Shorey, Gardner.

Goals: Davies 19, Carson og 41

Booked: Laursen

West Brom: Carson, Hoefkens, Barnett, Olsson, Robinson, Morrison (Morrison 65), Koren, Greening, Borja Valero (Kim 77), Simpson, Moore (Bednar HT).
Subs Not Used: Kiely, Cech, Beattie, Donk.

Goal: Morrison 49

Booked: Bednar

Att: 41,757

Ref: Steve Bennett (Kent)


BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Aston Villa's Ashley Young 7.74 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.



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see also
Premier League as it happened
10 Jan 09 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
10 Jan 09 |  Football


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