Football: Collymore turns creator

Sheffield Wednesday 0 Aston Villa 1 Joachim 37 Attendance: 25,989
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VILLA SUPPORTERS still coming to terms with the departure of Dwight Yorke may have viewed the prospect of Stan Collymore's return for this match as scant compensation. His erratic performances on the pitch last season and in a Parisian bar during the World Cup scarcely inspired confidence, though the prospect of an on-form Collymore partnering Julian Joachim at the head of the Villa attack offered an intriguing prospect.

For the opening half-hour of his first match of the season, Collymore was clearly still acclimatising to the demands of the Premiership. His touch let him down and the lay-offs at which he usually excels went astray.

Then he found himself in space on the right and produced the pass which was to fix the pattern of the game and do wonders for his fragile confidence. He picked out Joachim on the edge of the penalty area and his striking partner turned and shot in a single movement, planting the ball beyond the reach of the Wednesday goalkeeper Kevin Pressman.

From that moment Villa were in control and Collymore was back in the thick of things. He tried a little lob from the angle of the box which drifted just over and then set up Lee Hendrie for a rasping shot which Pressman was grateful to steer over his crossbar.

Wednesday fielded the same side which threw Christian Gross to the lions at White Hart Lane last week, but with Gareth Southgate and Ugo Ehiogu commanding at the heart of the Villa defence, Danny Wilson's side never looked like reproducing the penetration that brought them three goals against Spurs.

As ever, Wednesday's Italian duo of Benito Carbone and Paolo di Canio produced some pretty touches, but at the expense of over-elaborate approach work which petered out before the target was sighted or fell into Villa's well-oiled offside trap. Andy Booth was an early victim - he put the ball into the Villa net after only four minutes - and Carbone was booked for questioning the linesman's judgement once too often.

Booth could have found compensation as Wednesday staged a late rally, but Mark Bosnich twice denied him with point-blank blocks.