Football: Collymore capitalises on Tottenham's troubles

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The Independent Online
Glenn Moore

Aston Villa 4 Tottenham Hotspur 1

Stan Collymore put his troubles behind him yesterday to increase Tottenham's woes. The pounds 7m striker, whose depression at his lack of goals was compounded by being arrested on Christmas Eve, scored twice to double his season's tally.

Collymore's first came from Simon Grayson's cross eight minutes from the end. That was just a couple of yards out but his second, a 30-yard free-kick, showed how dangerous he is when his confidence is restored. Together with a brace from Mark Draper, they earned Villa victory over a Spurs team which had briefly hauled themselves back into the match with a controversial 58th-minute equaliser by Colin Calderwood.

The failure of any team in the Premiership's bottom half to win earlier in the day meant Spurs went into their fixture knowing victory could lift them to the heady heights of 15th. But first they had to secure their first victory at Villa Park in 11 seasons, no easy task for a team that had only won away once all season. Les Ferdinand was absent with a knee injury so Steffan Iversen, himself carrying an injury, had to play in attack with David Ginola.

Villa fielded Collymore despite being charged with assault following an alleged incident on a girlfriend's doorstep on Christmas Eve. With Dwight Yorke injured and Julian Joachim, like Gareth Southgate, a victim of the flu, Brian Little had little alternative.

Collymore started enthusiastically, if inaccurately, shooting over in the fourth minute. He then drifted in and out of the game, reappearing after 30 minutes to drag a shot wide but otherwise looked short of control and confidence.

Tottenham's own mercurial "genius", Ginola, was even more anonymous, contributing nothing of note in the first half. Spurs one attempt on goal, a header just past the post on 12 minutes, was created by Ruel Fox.

Villa's own attacking prospects hinged on getting the ball around. This proved difficult but with seven minutes left in the half, Milosevic was released on the right and he was able to pick out Mark Draper at the far post to out-jump Steve Carr and head his fourth goal in over 80 Villa appearances.

Given Spurs' recent propensity to collapse in the second half, their fans would have been somewhat nervous during the break but they restarted in positive mood. Ginola, presumably on another promise of a bottle of champagne from the manager Christian Gross, began to stir and Ugo Ehiogu was booked as Villa tried to deal with him.

This led to a fair amount of Gallic diving and, inevitably, the Villa fans were soon booing him. It was not long before they had more reason for anger as, 13 minutes into the half, Tottenham controversially scored. Campbell headed a Ginola free-kick to Fox whose fierce volley brought a fine save from Mark Bosnich. The ball ran to Clemence whose shot was deflected in, not entirely accidentally, by Colin Calderwood's left arm. Villa's horrified players surrounded the referee, David Wilkie, but the goal stood.

Seven minutes later, the referee was again beseiged as Carr handled just outside the penalty area. Collymore promptly thumped the free-kick into the wall. Almost immediately, however, he redeemed himself as he chipped Fernando Nelson's cross goalwards. Walker, at full stretch, gathered, only to drop the ball under pressure from his team-mate Allan Nielsen. Draper joyfully tapped in.

Now Anderton came on but it Villa finished the stronger. They remain in mid-table obscurity but, unlike Spurs, the New Year will not be approached with dread.

Aston Villa (3-5-2): Bosnich; Ehiogu, Staunton, Scimeca; Nelson, Draper, Taylor, Grayson, Wright; Milosevic, Collymore. Substitutes not used: Oakes (gk); Charles, Hendrie, Collins, Byfield.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Carr, Mabbutt (Anderton, 74), Campbell, Wilson (Allen, 74); Fox, Nielsen, Calderwood, Sinton (Clemence, 25); Ginola, Iversen. Substitutes not used: Bardsen (gk), Dominguez.

Referee: A Wilkie (Chester-le-Street).