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Match Report


Posted Sat 20 Aug 11 at 17:00 PM

Report: Aston Villa 3 Rovers 1

Rovers suffered their second defeat of the season as they slipped to a 3-1 loss at the hands of Aston Villa.

Clinical finishing was the key as smart strikes from Gabriel Agbonlahor and Emile Heskey gave Rovers a mountain to climb at Villa Park.

They improved after the break, pulling a deserved goal back when Morten Gamst Pedersen headed home superbly from Junior Hoilett's cross, but any chance of a comeback ended when Darren Bent pounced on a fortunate rebound to complete the scoring.

Steve Kean made two changes from the side that tasted defeat on the opening day of the season.

The Rovers boss welcomed back his club captain Ryan Nelsen after a knee injury, whilst David Goodwillie was given the nod for his first start in the Barclays Premier League. Mauro Formica dropped to the bench whilst Brett Emerton missed out due to the hamstring strain picked up against Wolves.

Rovers started brightly, Martin Olsson and Junior Hoilett linking up well down the left flank to cause Villa early consternation, whilst a David Goodwillie cross from the same side almost picked out Morten Gamst Pedersen arriving into the box from the right.

At the other end Richard Dunne fired over from a corner kick whilst Darren Bent saw a chance snuffed out by Ryan Nelsen, but there was little Rovers could do about the home side taking the lead on twelve minutes.

Bent and Gabriel Agbonlahor combined on the left before Agbonlahor took up the attack. Cutting inside onto his right foot he let fly with a stupendous effort that flew into the far corner leaving Paul Robinson with no chance. The shot could have been prevented, but there was no answer once it left his boot.

Rovers perhaps should have been level seven minutes later, Goodwillie latching onto a through ball from Jason Roberts, back to Michel Salgado who crossed deep, Hoilett attacked, picking out Goodwillie with a left-footed cross but the Scotsman fired narrowly over the angle.

A quick fire break could have seen Villa notch their second soon after, Hoilett and Olsson gave up possession in an advanced position with Charles N'Zogbia gaining the ball, he fed Emile Heskey who switched play left to Agbonlahor, but his long range shot was comfortable for Robinson.

Rovers looked for a way back, Steven Nzonzi seeing a goalbound shot deflected over by Stephen Warnock, then from the resulting corner Morten Gamst Pedersen almost scored directly but for Shay Given's save.

But on 25 minutes Villa did score their second and it was from that man who for some reason always scores against us, Emile Heskey. A ball deflected kindly for the home side, but as Nzonzi stood motionless, the former England man took advantage and steered the ball into the corner beyond Robinson. The Rovers number one furious at the lack of a block in front of him.

Only an interception from Michel Salgado prevented a third goal on 34 minutes for Emile Heskey, then it was David Dunn's turn to thwart the danger after Pedersen had gifted the ball away.

Rovers started the second half unchanged, whilst Villa were forced into one as Gabriel Agbonlahor failed to reappear. Winger Marc Albrighton onto replace the goalscorer.

Like the first period it was the side from Lancashire that were bright, only this time they got a goal their play deserved.

It came on 52 minutes, Morten Gamst Pedersen playing the ball from inside his own half out to Martin Olsson on the left flank, he in turn fed the fleet-footed Junior Hoilett who skipped past Luke Young like he wasn't there before delivering a pin-point cross to where Pedersen arrived to power a header home.

Another Hoilett run moments later saw him evade a reckless challenge from Stiliyan Petrov, but Emile Heskey saw yellow for his challenge on the Canadian.

The home side were rattled, Heskey was replaced by midfielder Barry Bannan, whilst Luke Young, who had struggled with Hoilett, was replaced by Ciaran Clark in a move that saw Warnock go over and mark the Rovers attacker.

Rovers continued pressing and probing, but Villa sub' Marc Albrighton almost scored with a 20-yard daisy cutter, Paul Robinson motionless as the ball crept past the post.

But when the luck isn't with you, it isn't with you, and on 68 minutes a shot by Petrov was well blocked by Grant Hanley, but the ball unfortunately bounced straight into the path of Darren Bent and the England striker couldn't miss from ten yards.

With fifteen minutes to go Rovers made a double substitution. Morten Gamst Pedersen and Jason Roberts making way for Mauro Formica and a debut for Radosav Petrovic. That saw a reshuffle up front with the danger man Hoilett moving into a more central position alongside David Goodwillie.

Petrovic arrived from Serbia with somewhat of a reputation as a goalscorer from central midfield, but his long-range sighter with nine minutes to go was never going to trouble Shay Given.

One thing that did trouble Given was a groin injury. A doubt ahead of the game, the former Rovers player ended the match by being unable to take goal kicks, but aside from a late Martin Olson free-kick Rovers didn't really test the Irishman as the match drifted to its inevitable conclusion.

David Goodwillie looked lively on his first Rovers start, Junior Hoilett impressed as always, and new boy Radosav Petrovic showed enough in his fifteen minutes that he could be some player, but it is defensive frailties that will continue to cause Steve Kean concern.

Next up is the Carling Cup, Sheffield Wednesday the opponents on Wednesday at Ewood Park.

ASTON VILLA: Given, Young (sub Clark 56 mins), Warnock, Dunne. Collins, Bent, N'Zogbia, Agbonlahor (sub Albrighton 46 mins), Delph, Heskey (sub Bannan 66 mins), Petrov (c).

Subs not used: Guzan (GK), Ireland, Delfouneso, Makoun.

ROVERS: Robinson, Salgado, Olsson, Nelsen (c), Dunn, Pedersen (sub Petrovic 75 mins), Nzonzi, Hoilett, Goodwillie, Roberts (sub Formica 75 mins), Hanley.

Subs not used: Bunn (GK), Rochina, Blackman, Ribeiro, Lowe.

Booked: Heskey, Delph, Petrov (Aston Villa).

Attendance: 32,319

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