A 2-1 victory against local rivals Wolves brings new manager Gerard Houllier his first 3 points at the Villa. Stweart Downing netted his third of the season to give Villa the lead before an equaliser from Jarvis looked to see the game heading for a draw. After a fantastic substitute appearance against Blackburn in midweek, Heskey was rewarded with a start and capped a good performance with an 88th minute winner to see the away side rise to 5th in the league.
Wolves carved out the opening chance of the game within 10 minutes when midfielder David Edwards raced on to a pass from Doyle before firing harmlessly wide after allowing Warnock to get back at him.
Warnock then picked up a 3 yellow card of the season and his third in a row in the league after a mistimed challenge on Edwards.
Villa began to dominate proceedings and created their first real chance came from a Downing corner which found James Collins. His header was well kept out by Marcus Hahnemann to keep the scores level.
Villa’s pressure paid off after 26 minutes when Stewart Downing, recalled after being rested in midweek, tapped home from close range. Good hold up play by Heskey brought in youngster Marc Albrighton who’s drilled cross was met at the back post by Downing.
The home side created a chance against the run of play which brought a fine double save from keeper Brad Friedel. The American stopped a fine strike from Steven Fletcher before reacting quickly to keep out Doyle’s follow up.
Nigel Reo-Coker was preferred to Stephen Ireland before kcik off and put in a solid shift puuling the strings in the midfield alongside the ineffective Petrov. Carlos Cuellar was also impressing after filling the void at centre back left by the injury to Richard Dunne.
The second half saw the game swing into the favour of the home side though Ashley Young remained Villa’s main threat in his support role off of Heskey.
Warnock was lucky to stay on the pitch after a foul on Doyle went unpunished. Wolves boss Mick McCarthy was far from happy with the referee’s decision not to hand the Villa defender a second yellow.
Villa were now on the back foot and Frriedel got down low to make a smart stop from a Cristophe Berra volley.
The home side’s positive start to the second half was rewarded by an equaliser on the hour mark through the impressive Matt Jarvis. The winger cut inside and delivered a wicked cross, evading the oncoming Edwards and in turn deceiving Brad Friedel before nestling in the corner of the net.
Albrighton was replaced by Agbonlahor with Houllier looking to take control of the game once more. Young was still threatening and his cross was just too much for Nigel Reo-Coker to get on the end of. The England international was in action once more, this time producing a fine strike which was superbly kept out by the Wolves keeper.
Villa looked to be on course for their third consecutive draw with their Midland rivals and stretch their unbeaten run against Wolves to 17 matches.
Emile Heskey then had the last laugh after leading the line well for the visitors by scoring a quality header in the 88th minute. Stephen Warnock’s cross was met by the former England international and his header left Hahnemann with no chance to seal victory for the Villa.
Villa Player Ratings
Brad Friedel – 7 – another good display from the veteran keeper
Luke Young – 6 – tough game marking Jarvis but good enough
James Collins – 6 – solid as ever, did little wrong
Carlos Cuellar – 7 – Villa’s best defender on the day
Stephen Warnock – 6 – crossed well for the winner but lucky not to be sent off
Marc Albrighton – 7 – bright start once again but faded and replaced
Nigel Reo-Coker – 8 – dominated in midfield overshadowing Petrov
Stiliyan Petrov – 5 – ineffective and uninspiring, should be rested
Stewart Downing – 7 – decent display capped by poachers finish
Ashley Young – 8 – constant threat and good support for Heskey
Emile Heskey – 8 – strong hold up play and great winner
Gabby Agbonlahor – 6 – little impact
Steve Sidwell – 6 – no time, booked
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