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We rely on Hull to keep us in the top 6!


John
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Our two worst home performance in the league were our first and last of this season. We won just 8 of 19 home games where the top 4 won from 14 – 17 of theirs and we also drew 8 to make it 25 points dropped at Villa Park compared to only 20 away. The figures show that our home form cost us fourth and but for already doomed Hull’s point against Liverpool today we would have ended the season seventh.

It was very disappointing that this season ended in this way. It has been another season that has seen us progress under the guidance of Martin and Randy. Another top 6 finish with more points than we had achieved last season and two Wembley appearances to boot is something that matched most of our aspirations at the start of this season and most certainly after that grim first game home defeat to Wigan.

But, this home performance ran that Wigan game close. Our visitors became the only team to get the league double over us this season. Yes we did beat them in each of our three cup ties this season and having scored 3 and then 6 in our home games this season against Blackburn it seemed unlikely we would continue that goal progression and score 9. But, I did not expect the lack of performance we got or the goals to dry up completely.

This was an end of season performance from a team who seemed not to realise that its season was not quite at its end. A win just might have given us fifth place and the defeat we got looked likely to leave us seventh and facing an early entry into the Europa Cup that would have cut short the holidays that a few players in Villa shirts already seemed to be on. It was Rafa and Hull that they can thank for the later start in Europe that now awaits them.

Blackburn always seemed just one goal away from defeat and it seemed likely that once one turned up like the Clapham omnibus more would follow. But, the longer the game progressed the more unlikely that goal seemed to become and our visitors began to feel there may be more than a point in the game for them. What shots on goal we did produce found Robinson showing the sort of form that will gain players who are on the edge of the England squad a late chance of a summer in South Africa that some of the players in Villa shirts who have found themselves in a similar position have not taken the chance to demonstrate in recent weeks.

So we now face a summer where we will need to spend to stay where we are now. Some players who are on the fringes of the side will move on and we will need quality players to replace them. But, we need to hold onto our best players and keep the manager we have if we are to continue the steady progress this football club are making. In Randy and Martin I still 110% trust.

My player ratings from a game that some players minds seemed to be on the summer search for a deckchair rather than on a 90 minute search for goals from are:

Brad Freidel – 6 – Stood no chance with the own goal and was as always reliable.

Carlos Cuellar – 6 – Once again showed that he is solid at the back but less effective when moving forward.

James Collins – 7 – Moved to the near post to head a Downing corner goal bound on 7 minutes that Robinson showed good reactions to stop. Then hit a shot from outside of the box on 41 minutes when allowed to move forward unchallenged that Robinson stretched to reach but Gabby was unable to put away the rebound that Robinson swallowed. But, James was fortunate not to concede a penalty when he brought down Dunn inside the box on 57 minutes.

Richard Dunne – 6 – Did well to shield the ball to safety on 33 minutes when Roberts had seemed likely to otherwise have a good scoring opportunity from the edge of the box. Got to a good cross in front of Hoilett on 84 minutes but his header sailed past Brad to give Blackburn their winner.

Stephen Warnock - 6 – Better display until replaced on 41 minutes by Young due to injury.

Stewart Downing – 6 – Good delivery but a player who can do so much for us and one that I trust will do so next season having had a full pre-season behind him. Did have an effort deflected wide on 73 minutes.

James Milner – 7 – MOTM – Hit a free kick from the edge of the box after Ashley had been brought down on 44 minutes that Robinson kept out. Just failed to get to a glanced Carew header from a Downing cross on 58 minutes that just needed a touch and then hit a good shot on 87 minutes that Robinson pushed out. James kept plugging away throughout as he always does.

Stiliyan Petrov - 6 – Hit a couple of shots the best of which was on 66 minutes when he found himself in space on the edge of the box and his clean strike hit the side netting.

Ashley Young – 7 – Went close to the sort of performance that would have won the game for us and presented our main threat but his delivery was not always as good as his approach work and when he got it right the runs and anticipation were lacking from our forwards. Did some good work tracking back such as when covering for a Cuellar error to win the ball inside his own box near the half hour mark.

John Carew – 5 – Brought down inside the box in the second half by Samba but did not get the penalty or the booking for assimilation that Dunn had earlier collected which suggests referee Bennett either felt he had not dived or was just inconsistent or was just plain wrong. Otherwise quiet and found Samba more than his match.

Gabriel Agbonlahor – 5 – Got to a cross on 45 minutes but his close range header was straight at the keeper. Very quiet, made little impact and rarely used his pace.

Substitutes:

Luke Young – 7 – Replaced the injured Warnock on 41 minutes. If this was to have been his last appearance in our shirt which I hope it is not, he showed us just what we know we would be missing.

Emile Heskey – 6 - Replaced Big John on 76 minutes and looked keen to make an impression in what may be his last game (before the World Cup).

Nathan Delfouneso – Replaced Gabby on 78 minutes. Not on long enough to earn any rating.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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Awful headline. Typical negativity.

Well you could write your own!!!!

Cheers John, you've summed up the match pretty well from where I was sitting.

And thanks for completing as many of these as you have again this season, along with blandy's away reports I look forward to seeing one person's consistent viewpoint of games.

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Don't disagree with the sentiment of the article but the Headline is in the style of the worst kind of hack journalism. Why not write ' we didn't finish 7th because Liverpool were worse than us over a season'. Surely that is closer to the mark

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Lexicon and markeefc, I can see where you are both coming from and you do end the season in the place that your 38 games merit. But, we had the chance to get sixth without relying on Liverpool not getting 3 points at Hull and the fact that we did not due to our performance in front of our own fans on a day when we could have gone out on a high note led me to the "hack journalism" headline that you both have had difficulty with. I doubt that before or after the game many of us thought that Liverpool would not win at Hull. Their failure to do so shows how far they have sunk but we should not have been left hanging on Hull holding on to a point to see us end sixth.

TRO as George Michael once said "you've gotta have faith". :winkold: My pleasure Lancs & OBE.

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