Football: Villa falling fast

Wimbledon 2 Euell 10, Leaburn 39 Aston Villa 1 Milosevic 41 At tendance: 13,131

A SEASON that started full of promise and potential could be in danger of turning into a nightmare for Villa as this defeat pushed them further into the relegation danger zone. Perhaps they are keeping their powder dry for their European adventure, but they had better start looking over their shoulder.

Wimbledon were good value for their win as Carl Leaburn and Jason Euell posed myriad problems for Gareth Southgate and Ugo Ehiogu while Vinnie Jones and Neil Ardley provided robust and often skilful support. The mature Jones has shown enough to bury forever his Hackney Marshes' hard man image and it was his exquisite cross which dropped teasingly at the foot of Mark Bosnich's post that created Wimbledon's first goal in the 10th minute.

Leaburn's presence compounded the Villa defence's difficulties before Euell prodded the ball into the net. The second in the 39th minute was started by Ardley's deep cross, returned accurately into the box by Marcus Gayle where Leaburn again was the master in the air and his header flew past Bosnich.

Neil Sullivan had not made a save before he was picking the ball out of his net three minutes later when luck finally went Villa's way. A goalmouth melee gave Savo Milosevic the chance for a shot which was deflected off Chris Perry's boot to leave Sullivan helpless.

That seemed to bring some colour back into the Villa cheeks and they certainly performed with more passion and purpose. But the withdrawal of the injured Milosevic in the 57th minute seemed to put paid to that, especially when Stan Collymore's free-kick came down with snow on it. The pounds 7m man had another day to forget.

This brief spell apart, Villa seemed buried in a fog of lethargy which they must shake off before the season of promise turns into one of disaster. Wimbledon may never have delighted the purists, but they have never lacked bottle. On this evidence, Villa could do with some of that.

They could claim the mitigating circumstances that they were missing three key players, but that excuse will not hold water with their faithful unless some more purpose and passion can be found in their game.

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