Brought into the side because of the continuing absence of Les Ferdinand, he is going to be extremely hard to shift. This was only his second senior game, but he was so much at home that nobody would have guessed.
It was a good win for Queen's Park Rangers, who until yesterday had gone nine games without one. Villa might also have been on a losing streak but they were no pushover, and for the first 20 minutes they put the home side under pressure.
Nii Lamptey, Villa's summer buy from Anderlecht, exposed an early creakiness in the QPR defence, and Dwight Yorke was always dangerous in his forward role. In the 16th minute, his break down the left and acutely angled shot had to be cleared by Steve Yates at the far post with Sieb Dykstra beaten.
Not for the first time this season, Villa annulled all the chances they made for themselves with some frustratingly weak finishing.
Not long after, Dichio started to look menacing. He coolly rolled a ball through to Steve Hodge who knocked it on to Kevin Gallen, whose likely looking shot was caught dramatically by Mark Bosnich. Then, with 20 minutes gone, he headed Trevor Sinclair's cross into the net only to have his effort disallowed for pushing, although it looked innocent enough.
Finally, in the 37th minute, Dichio did the business. He was floating around on the right of the Villa back four when Ian Holloway sent a casual-looking pass his way. Villa were caught completely square; Dichio strolled past, rounded the goalkeeper to make absolutely sure, and slid his shot in from the left to give Rangers the lead.
They never lost it, despite desperate efforts from Villa. Dykstra made two excellent saves from Dean Saunders, Garry Parker's shot from Steve Staunton's cross was blocked, and the home crowd had been whistling urgently at the referee for some minutes when, in time added on, Gary Penrice suddenly set off on a run.
It was hard to believe what Bosnich did next: he came into the outfield to tackle Penrice, but missed him completely. That left Penrice to skip away and put the ball into an unguarded net. 'The second goal was sheer stupidity,' commented a rueful Ron Atkinson.Reuse content