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For the first time since 1979 Aston Villa suffered a Villa Park defeat to close neighbours West Bromwich Albion in a tense encounter full of controversial moments.

Aston Villa Lose to West Brom In Controversial Circumstances

The game actually started quite brightly for Villa and in the early exchanges it was obvious Villa had a bit more steel in the centre of the park with Chris Herd giving no quarters by getting stuck in and continually out jumping his Albion counterpart in the air.
Barry Bannan picked up a loose ball and hammered a shot that was destined to go wide only to see Darren Bent show exemplary skill by controlling it and he himself unleashing a shot that flew uncharacteristically high over the bar.
Then there was some hesitant defending from Steven Reid and Gabiel Agbonlahor read the situation quickly to nip in and get his foot to the ball with the Albion keeper fully committed it was a nailed on penalty.
Darren Bent duly despatched the resultant penalty into the net and everything seemed plain sailing for the claret and blues.
Chris Herd then picked up a booking for a strong challenge before a robust challenge from Alan Hutton where he won the ball before following through onto the on coming Shane Long saw the young Irish man down injured for a few minutes.
Shane Long limped on for a few minutes before being eventually replaced and he will go for a scan to determine the exact nature of his knee injury.
After the previous weeks debacle of bad defending from set pieces at Man City McLeish had spent the week with the players giving specific instructions on how to defend set pieces and more importantly instructing who will pick up who.
Chris Herd had been given the task of marking Jonas Olsson and both players had already been spoken to by the referee while waiting the delivery of a set piece into the box.
When the eventual ball was sent into the box Olsson actually fouled Herd and in the resultant entanglement of two players Herd was adjudged by the assistant referee to have stamped on the Swedish centre back.
TV cameras and photographers placed strategically around the ground could not pinpoint this infringement on Olssen but still the linesman insisted it was a straight red card offence and Chris Herd was inexplicably sent off from the field.
In all my time either playing or watching football if a player has been stamped on he will immediately protest but there was not even a flicker of discontent from Olssen as both players stood up and continued playing for the 10 seconds or so until the referee acknowledged his assistants decision.
The fact that Blunt the Albion dead ball specialist blazed his penalty high and wide did not placate the fact that Villa were down to 10 men and the person who scored Albions first goal was Olssen from a corner where Herd (if still on the pitch) would have been marking him.
This was the game changer for Villa from looking comfortable at 1-0 up to adopting a defensive approach that sadly did not work and Albion to their credit took full advantage.
The start of the second half saw Albion take total control of the game and the inevitable second goal came courtesy of another set piece where Paul Scharner hit the loose ball firmly into the back of the net with Shay Given having no chance to save.
Villa looked lost at this stage but surprisingly West Brom got the jitters and their passing suddenly started to go astray and Villa afforded a foothold to get back into the match.
Sadly it was not to be, Villa huffed and puffed but failed to find the creative spark that would cause Ben Foster in the Albion goal to break sweat.
What started so brightly for Aston Villa turned into a nightmare as West Brom took advantage of the unfortunate dismissal of Chris Herd to record their first Villa Park victory since a 1-0 win in 1979.
On the evidence of todays game neither Aston Villa or West Bromwich Albion looked particularly convincing and a mid table finish is the best that can probably be hoped for both teams.
There's one question many Villa are asking "is Alex McLeish really going to try to avoid relegation and grind out a mid table finish". Well the sobering truth is not filled with optimistic hope as the first nine games have not given that much that Villa fans could be happy about.
Hopefully Chris Herd can appeal his sending off and escape a ban as both his games so far this season have shown more promise that most of the more experienced professionals on show.
I would really like to see Gary Gardner get an opportunity for first team action and would really like to see a midfield consisting of Herd, Gardner, Bannan and Albrighton. Ok I accept that Petrov has probably been one of Villa's better performers this season but I for one would really like to see these kids get a proper chance of showing us what they can do.
Aston Villa vs WBA Line Ups

If anything the games will at least be a lot more entertaining.

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Aston Villa vs West Bromwich Albion Oct 22nd 2011

Aston Villa vs West Bromwich Albion Oct 22nd 2011 Reviewed by Michael Joseph

What started so brightly for Aston Villa turned into a nightmare as West Brom took advantage of the unfortunate dismissal of Chris Herd to record their first Villa Park victory since a 1-0 win in 1979.

On the evidence of todays game neither Aston Villa or West Bromwich Albion looked particularly convincing and a mid table finish is the best that can probably be hoped for both teams.

Aston Villa Rating: 2.5
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West Bromwich Albion Rating: 3.0
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West Brom Line Up

  • GK Ben Foster
  • RB Steven Reid
  • LB Gareth McAuley
  • CH Billy Jones
  • CH Jonas Olsson
  • RM Jerome Thomas
  • LM Peter Odemwingie
  • AM Chris Brunt
  • CM Paul Scharner
  • CM Youssouf Mulumbu
  • CF Shane Long
  • Sub Marton Fulop
  • Sub Nickey Shorey
  • Sub Craig Dawson
  • Sub James Morrison
  • Sub Somen Tchoyi
  • Sub Simon Cox
  • Sub Zoltan Gera
    Aston Villa Line Up

  • GK Shay Given
  • RB Alan Hutton
  • LB Stephen Warnock
  • CH Richard Dunne
  • CH James Collins
  • DM Chris Herd
  • RM Barry Bannan
  • CM Stylian Petrov
  • LM Charles N'zogbia
  • CF Darren Bent
  • CF Gabriel Agbonlahor**
  • Sub Brad Guzan
  • Sub Ciaran Clark
  • Sub Carlos Cuellar
  • Sub Marc Albrighton
  • Sub Nathan Delfouneso
  • Sub Emile Heskey
  • Sub Stephen Ireland