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Player Match Ratings – The joy of winning!


John
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For once we were able to hold onto a 2-goal lead and the three resultant points have left us with hopes that we can yet pull off our very own Great Escape. One win gained and another 4 or 5 now needed - simples!



West Ham may regret not starting with Jarvis and Big Sam may wish he had gone for us from the start of the game rather than at the start of the second half and then again when they had gone two behind. But this was a vital win that leaves us still with hope that would have been all but dashed by another home league defeat.


So West Ham did not get their first league win at Villa Park or league double against us in 6 seasons and we thankfully did not equal our top-flight club record five-match home losing streak which had been set 50 years ago in 1963. We secured a win after 8 games without one and this was the 13th attempt we had made to win a televised Sunday game and we did so after a fifth goal in successive games from Benteke.


It was not a first half to remember and both teams needed a word at half time from their respective managers I would guess. It seemed West Ham were most responsive early on as they put us under pressure and gained corners that too often in the past have led to goals against us. This time we were made of sterner stuff and hit them with two goals before we became rattled near the end and but for Guzan might have again thrown away a 2 goal cushion. We now need to build on the confidence that a home win and holding onto a lead will give us and anything we could get from our next two games would be a very big bonus.


My player ratings from a game that left us outside of the dreaded bottom three places after it were:


Brad Guzan – 7 – Really came into his own after we had gone two up having already claimed balls well inside his box. On 84 minutes he kept out a Vaz Te header from a deep cross that could have crept in at the far post. He then kept out a Nolan effort with his legs at his near post in the 5th minute of stoppage time and got an outstretched hand to Cole’s header from the resultant corner that was otherwise bound for the top corner.


Matthew Lowton – 6 – A steady enough performance.


Ron Vlaar – 7 - First to the ball on many occasions and his experience is helping those alongside him make our defence look a tad more solid. Ron touched a Westwood corner just over the bar on 39 minutes.


Ciaran Clark – 7 – I think that international goal gave him some confidence after what was a difficult game at Everton and he did well for me and got a vital touch back towards Guzan from a cross on 37 minutes with Joe Cole loitering behind him.


Nathan Baker - 6 – He is not a wing back so offers little coming forward but he offered us something to counter what they were expected to offer from dead balls when moving into the box where he is considerably more comfortable. Booked on 72 minutes for a rash and needless tackle on Joe Cole but stayed on with that injury where others would have been looking to make an exit.


Jordan Bowery – 5 – Lacks the pace to play wide in this division but he worked and covered well before being replaced on 63 minutes.


Fabian Delph – 7 – MOTM - Put in a very big shift and he is beginning to look the player we had hoped he may become when he joined us from Leeds.


Ashley Westwood – 6 – Deflected a Cole ball aimed into the box off his head past Guzan for their 87th minute goal that led to a nail biting climax to this game.


Charles N’Zogbia - 7 – Brought down inside the box to earn our penalty after Benteke had played the ball to him. He then got the winner on 78 minutes after Bent had been brought down on the edge of the box with a well taken free kick that went over a statuesque wall and past Jaaskelainen had lined up to far over to his right hand side. Had earlier been found on the edge of the box by Benteke on 65 minutes and flashed his shot just wide of the post.


Andreas Weimann – 5 – Really should have scored on 2 minutes when Jaaskelainen spilled a Benteke shot from the edge of the area into his path and he was faced by a gaping goalmouth that he steered the ball wide of. Andreas was clearly affected by this miss and the impact it might have ultimately had on the game if not our season until he made way for Bent on 63 minutes.


Christian Benteke – 7 – He really hits a sweet penalty doesn’t he? Scored our vital opener on 74 minutes sending Jaaskelainen the wrong way and hitting the spot kick into the corner of the net. He was cool as a cucumber in what was a really pressured situation.


Substitutes:


Darren Bent – 6 – Came on for Weimann on 63 minutes and cleared a goal bound Carroll shot off the line a minute later that would have give them a lead we would have been unlikely to have recovered from. Job done!


Simon Dawkins – 5 – Replaced Bowery on 63 minutes and will need more game time to make an impression for us.


Yacouba Sylla - Replaced the injured N’Zogbia on 85 minutes but was not on long enough to earn a rating this time.


Stay up the Villa and Stay Strong Captain!
John Lewis

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Agreed Raver50032. West Ham looked one of the least effective teams we have faced to date but we really needed that win. The win will be something that we can take forward into games against better opposition in the hope that we can get the odd unexpected result against them as we did at Everton for example.

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