Match Report: Forgotten striker Darren Bent proves point to Paul Lambert as Aston Villa fight back to overcome Ipswich Town

Aston Villa 2 Ipswich Town 1: Weimann sends Villa through after England
man emerges from shadows to show his sharpness

For a game he really had to win to reduce
the heat generated by Villa's disastrous Premier League form, Paul Lambert
looked to have chosen a risky path when he revealed seven changes to his
regular line-up, but in the end it all worked out rather well as a banana skin
was avoided at the start of the most critical period so far in the young Scot's
tenure.

It just leaves two legs of a Capital One Cup semi-final against Bradford City – conquerors of Arsenal – and critical League matches against likely relegation rivals Southampton and upwardly mobile neighbours West Bromwich Albion to think about before the next round of the FA Cup on 26 January.

The problem now facing Lambert is what to do about Darren Bent after Villa's £18 million record signing, whose part in his plans has been in question for much of the season, displayed his seldom- questioned finishing ability with an equaliser against the first of his five clubs 45 seconds into the second half.

Bent, who had not played since suffering a hamstring injury at Norwich in early December – and had not started a home match since mid-September – returned from injury alongside £9.5m winger Charles N'Zogbia, another recent absentee, to infuse Villa with some of the experience and class they have conspicuously lacked.

The two combined to set Villa back on track after Michael Chopra, with the aid of a substantial assist from Eric Lichaj, had given Ipswich the lead against the run of play after 30 minutes, capitalising on a mistake by Nathan Baker that must have set Lambert's nerves on edge after 17 goals conceded in his last four Premier League games.

N'Zogbia, deployed in a central role just behind Bent with Christian Benteke rested, supplied the through pass and Bent drove a crisp right-foot shot wide of goalkeeper Scott Loach. It was only his fourth goal this season.

"That was Darren to a tee," Lambert said. "His finish was top class but I was impressed with his work ethic too, his whole general game. Considering that he had not trained until Friday it was a big, big effort from him.

"Darren and Charles have been out a length of time. Charles did not train until Friday either after I think about six weeks out and he always looked a threat. You just want them now to stay clear of injury and I think you'll see the best of them."

There was a major role, too, for another figure from the Villa Park shadows in the veteran goalkeeper Shay Given, whose frustration at a lack of games had bothered him so much he has considered coming out of international retirement.

Given, who has been reduced to playing second fiddle to Brad Guzan despite the deluge of goals flying past the American lately, showed himself to be as sharp as ever with a crucial 79th-minute save from Ipswich substitute Aaron McLean, which would have given the Championship side the lead.

Four minutes later, Villa's substitute Andreas Weimann headed Lambert's side in front with a wonderful effort from a Joe Bennett cross but it needed another Given save, from the full back Aaron Cresswell, to preserve the advantage.

"He has been unfortunate, Shay, that Brad Guzan has played so well," Lambert said.

Weimann was the other important figure for Villa. The midfielder has been another who Lambert felt was in need of a rest but an injury to Marc Albrighton required his involvement before half-time. Always busy, with plenty of clever passes up his sleeve, he gave Villa an extra measure of energy that made them look the better side in the second half.

Not that they had not in the opening half as Ipswich, whose manager, Mick McCarthy, had made six changes, reflecting the relegation struggle a division below that is his priority, survived an opening barrage in which Jordan Bowery, on his full debut, made a bright impression on the left.

Bowery almost converted a Bent cross and then drew one of two fine saves from Loach, who also kept out a strong header by Ciaran Clark that bounced awkwardly at his feet.

McCarthy rued the manner of Villa's second goal – "I'm stewing about the goal we conceded just after half-time to bring them level – but did not seem too dismayed not to have a Cup run to think about. "I would have liked to have won but staying up is my remit and that has not changed," he said.

Aston Villa (4-2-3-1): Given; Lichaj, Clark, Baker, Bennett; Bannan, Delph; Albrighton (Weimann, 42), N'Zogbia (Ireland, 71), Bowery (Agbonlahor, 62); Bent.

Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Loach; Hewitt, Kisnorbo, Smith, Cresswell; Emmanuel-Thomas (McGoldrick, 60), Reo-Coker, Hyam, Martin; Chopra (McLean, 74), Murphy (Edwards, 70).

Referee: Jonathan Moss

Man of the match: Weimann (Aston Villa)

Match rating: 6/10

Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
Voices
All the major parties are under pressure from sceptical voters to spell out their tax and spending plans
voices
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and artistic director Matthew Warchus at the Old Vic party to honour Spacey
theatreStar's successor at Old Vic theatre admits he's 'allergic to hype'
Life and Style
life + healthVirginia Ironside's dilemma, during Depression Awareness Week
Arts and Entertainment
The median income for professional writers is just £10,432, less than the minimum wage
booksSurvey reveals authors' earnings
News
i100
Life and Style
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders