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Player Match Ratings – We are in a spot of bother!


John
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SOS! Save Our Season, our bright future and your investment in the club by backing the manager in this transfer window now Randy because to do otherwise is a risk too great to be taken!

So another home game, another defeat and a second consecutive 6-pointer lost. We were unlucky to have come out of this game with nothing to show for it and we created a number of opportunities without putting one of them away. They had the better of the first half. We started it reasonably well without threatening to score but after their goal it took us too long to apply some sustained pressure on them.

Their penalty showed that cheats do prosper. Lambert again converted a penalty, rubbed salt into our wounds by holding his finger up to his mouth as he celebrated in front of a sparsely occupied Holte End and then claimed the penalty should have stood although no contact had been made on the diving Rodriguez post match. Games can be won or lost on decisions like that and teams can stay up or go down due to an ill gotten penalty. It is claimed that bad decisions even themselves out over the course of a season. I am waiting to be convinced!

We are fast running out of games to win and have now fallen like a lead balloon into the bottom three. Relegation now stares us in the face and we have a mountain to climb if we are to reach 38 points by the end of the season which is likely to be the minimum requirement to achieve survival. Teams around us are taking unexpected points (many of them from us) and we now seem to be drifting inevitably into the league below us without seemingly trying to do much about it.

Yes we have been very unlucky with injuries but Lambo has been tasked with working a miracle at this football club. Randy was stung by the money that MON used to make us an established top 6 team. He made some poor signings but he also made some good ones. But the money dried up he left and our next three managers were then expected to pick up the tab. Lambo was at the start of this season expected to trim the wage bill, sell high earners that nobody wants and to build a squad of players to take us from relegation battlers to mid-table security with limited funds given that our crown jewels had been sacrificed in order to balance the books without being suitably replaced.

There is talk of the risk that Lambo is taking by using youngsters to do a man’s job. But what alternative did he really have? Given the numbers he needed to bring in during the summer to make up the squad who other than youngsters who were prepared to sign for wages below those paid to the players they were being asked to replace could he really afford to buy?

My player ratings from a game that has left us inside the bottom 3 are:

Brad Guzan – 6 – Sent the wrong way for their winner (didn’t he once save more than the odd one?). Got down to a Rodriguez shot from the edge of the box on 61 minutes but had the post to thank 8 minutes later when Puncheon’s shot from the edge of the box beat his dive.

Matthew Lowton – 6 – Beaten all too easily by Shaw’s pace on 44 minutes but his blushes were spared by Guzan who kept out his shot after he had run into the box with his left leg.

Nathan Baker - 5 – Rodriguez was able to get in front of him to get on the end of a ball player through the middle by Lambert on 64 minutes. His pace got him to the line ahead of Nathan and he pulled the ball across goal and past Guzan but Stevens did well to clear the danger with Puncheon in attendance. Headed the ball onto the crossbar on 89 minutes from a Bannan corner with Boruc a spectator.

Ciaran Clark – 7 –A captain’s performance and a solid display within an inexperienced defence that is too often at sixes and sevens. Stood in the way of Delph’s attempted clearance in the build up to their penalty award.

Enda Stevens - 5 – Likes to get forward but left gaping holes behind him when we lost possession and we were too often exposed on his side. Unlucky to have been wrongly adjudged to have felled Rodriguez after the ball had run to him off Guzan and he had tried to take a touch rather than to hoof it clear on 34 minutes. Hit a sweet shot from outside the box on 52 minutes that Boruc did very well to get a hand to but Benteke was unable to keep the ball down and hit the rebound over the bar.

Brett Holman – 4 – Left the field on half time and I wonder if he was actually match fit to start with? Had a shot deflected wide on 36 minutes but he was some way off his best yesterday.

Ashley Westwood – 6 – Not quite at his very best on his return but our young players are put under so much pressure to perform each week and this one has been the most consistent midfield performer for us.

Fabian Delph – 7 – MOTM - Kept working and was our most effective midfield performer by some distance yesterday.

Charles N’Zogbia - 5 – Had an effort from the edge of the box blocked by Shaw on 33 minutes and the move that produced their goal started from his poor resultant corner that failed to get past the first man. Hit a decent on target shot from the edge of the box on 61 minutes that forced a save from the keeper before being replaced.

Christian Benteke – 5 – His finishing was way out of kilter yesterday as it had been at Bradford and he really should have put away a minimum of one of the opportunities he had. He had space to place a shot on goal on 79 minutes but it flashed inches over when it needed to have been on target. Had an 88th minute header from a Stevens cross kept out at the foot of the near post by Boruc. Headed the ball on for Gabby whose touch bounced off the keeper into his path but he sliced the ball wide to spurn a splendid opportunity.

Andreas Weimann - 7 – Hit a shot from the edge of the box that Boruc was unable to hold but Yoshida was able to get to the loose ball before Westwood. Worked tirelessly throughout and is becoming some player.

Substitutes:

Barry Bannan – 5 – Replaced Holman for the second half and hit a couple of decent balls in.

Gabriel Agbonlahor – 6 - Replaced N’Zogbia on 62 minutes and played a part in the pressure we exerted on them towards the end.

Jordan Bowery - Replaced Westwood on 78 minutes. Not on long enough to earn a rating but got another feel for the fist team and did win the ball well inside the box on 91 minutes only for his effort to be deflected wide of the post for a corner.

Stay up the Villa and Stay Strong Captain!

John Lewis

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