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Wednesday, 1 November, 2000, 23:04 GMT
Aston Villa 0-1 Manchester City
Aston Villa inflicted a second-half battering on Manchester City but find themselves dumped out of the Worthington Cup after Kevin Horlock scored a last gasp penalty.
Villa were left protesting the result after Darius Vassell had a goal ruled out for handball in the dying seconds.
City controlled the opening 45 minutes with their central midfield trio of Alfie Haaland, Gerard Wiekens and Kevin Horlock dictating matters. Haaland, in particular, was a threat with his purposeful runs at the Villa defence although the home skipper Gareth Southgate was in commanding form at the back.
Villa, five times winners of the competition, struggled to find any sort of fluency during this period and were booed off at the interval by their frustrated fans.
They raised their game in the second 45 minutes with the pacey Julian Joachim and substitute Vassell causing problems. Now it was City 'keeper Nick Weaver who was the busier of the two keepers.
But then came the dramatic finale which has earned City a clash with Wimbledon, conquerors of Middlesbrough, in the next round.
City were the more purposeful side from the first whistle and effectively reverted to a 3-5-2 system as they attempted to bounce back from Saturday's five goal mauling by Arsenal.
Paul Ritchie and Danny Tiatto - who had been sent off at Highbury - combined down the left before a low centre picked out the advancing Haaland and his low shot cannoned to safety off Alan Wright.
The left flank also provided the source for the best chance of the opening 45 minutes as Paul Dickov and Horlock split open the Villa defence.
Horlock's eventual low cross was seized onto by Shaun Goater who got in front of Gareth Barry but the England defender did just enough to put off the City striker who turned the ball wide of the far post.
Villa barely created a move worthy of the name in the opening half hour and even the normally effective Paul Merson was relatively subdued.
It was 35 minutes before the home fans had anything to shout about when Wright was just too high with a dipping volley from the edge of the area after Spencer Prior had headed out a Steve Stone cross.
At least John Gregory's side finished the half with a flourish as Prior blocked a shot from Dion Dublin while Ian Taylor had an effort deflected just wide.
But the boos which greeted the half-time whistle from the Villa fans showed what they felt about an inept 45 minutes from their side.
Gregory brought on Vassell for the second half in place of Dublin who had been left clutching his back after a clash with Ritchie just before the interval.
Vassell was soon in the thick of the action, firing over the bar after latching onto a deep cross from Stone but he would have had a more clearcut opening had his first touch been better.
There was at least now more purpose about Villa's play as Merson began to make his presence felt and they twice went close to scoring in the space of 60 seconds.
First Vassell had a close range turned over the bar by Weaver and then the City 'keeper made a fine one-handed save away to his left to keep out a Southgate header from a Merson header.
City were still a threat on the break and Goater should have done better when he got free in the box but his effort lacked power and was comfortably saved by James.
But that was an isolated raid as Villa built up a growing momentum and Merson was unlucky with a dipping 25 yard effort which beat Weaver all ends up and crashed against the crossbar.
Weaver again excelled to turn over a powerful header from Joachim from a Merson free-kick and when David James pushed Alfie Haaland, his heroics were rewarded as Horlock kept is nerve from the spot.
Aston Villa: James, Alpay, Southgate, Barry, Stone, Boateng, Taylor, Wright, Dublin, Joachim, Merson. Subs: Delaney, Hendrie, Vassell, Samuel, Enckelman.
Man City: Weaver, Wiekens, Howey, Prior, Tiatto, Ritchie, Haaland, Horlock, Whitley, Dickov, Goater. Subs: Bishop, Wright, Jobson, Wright-Phillips, Kennedy.
Referee: D Elleray (Harrow-on-the-Hill)
05 Sep 00 | SOL
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