Barclays Premier League
St.Mary's - Saturday 22nd September 2012
Aston Villa 1
Attendance : 30,713
That was a seminal game. That was the day the team got their first win in the Premier League for seven seasons. You could see the belief grow in the team during the second half and for the last half hour their was only one team in it. As a Villa fan wrote, the Villa team were defending so deep, they were almost in the crowd.
Yet, the first half seemed so different. To begin with there was the bombshell on arrival at the ground, that Kelvin Davis had been dropped and Paulo Gazzaniga was in goal. There had been rumours on Twitter the night before that this would happen, but it was so outlandish that you tended to disbelieve it. Still, with Saints having shipped 14 goals in the first four games, Nigel Adkins had to change something.
The other changes were Gaston Ramirez and Maya Yoshida making their first starts for the club. Jos Hooiveld was still injured.
The First half began with Saints defending the Northam end, having lost the toss. There was a lot of huffing and puffing, but the majority of the game was played in the middle third of the field. Saints attack seemed to be suffering from a bad attack of Communication Breakdown, with a lot of misplaced and over-run passes going astray. In spite of this they were well on top, in spite of what the national press seemed to think the next day. Villa's only really effective player seemed to be Stephen Ireland, but he was only destined to last until half time and after that they were very much a spent force.
Villa's goal, when it came was almost comical. Various Saints players had chances to clear, but no they had to leave it to Darren Bent for an easy tap in.
Anyway, half time came and there was an air of disappointment, but not despair in the ranks.
When the teams came out again there was no Fox. Richardson was at right back and Clyne had moved across to left back. This proved to be a turning point. Saints immediately looked better balanced at the back. Clyne began to rampage up the left flank, causing no end of problems for Villa.
The first Saints goal when it came was little surprise. Rickie showed his ability with a sublime first touch, before firing home beyond Guzan in the Villa goal.
The second came along shortly after and was the best of the days goals. Ramirez sent an inch perfect pass through to Clyne, who responded with as clinical a finish as you would expect from a top class striker, let alone a right back, who was supposed to be playing on the left.
The game was in the last twenty minutes when Lambert put Puncheon through and from an acute angle his shot went into the net off the hapless Clark. Almost immediately Puncheon was substituted and the replacement, Mayuka had an immediate impact on the game, looking very dangerous. Deep into injury time he rampaged into the penalty area, one on one with Guzan, who promptly upended the youngster. Penalty.
Penalty = Lambert = Goal.
Four second half goals without reply and a comprehensive victory. Very impressive debuts from both Ramirez and Yoshida. Mayuka also looked impressive on his second cameo appearance from the bench. Things look a bit more hopeful now...
02 Clyne Booked
13 Fox (Richardson - 46' )
08 S Davis (Ward-Prowse - 79' )
42 Puncheon (Mayuka - 74' )
01 K Davis
04 Vlaar Booked
30 Lichaj Booked (Bennett - 68' )
07 Ireland (Westwood - 46' )
08 El Ahmadi
25 Bannan (Agbonlahor - 68' )
Aston Villa 50%
Aston Villa 8
Aston Villa 2
Aston Villa 4
Aston Villa 13