Aston Villa 1 Charlton Athletic 0: Davis' stunner a salute to that most famous of Belfast boys

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Steve Davis' second-half strike enabled Aston Villa to register back-to-back Premiership wins for the first time in 12 months and complete a miserable November for Alan Curbishley's side. The Northern Ireland international made no mistake with a rasping drive from the edge of the box to send the Addicks to a fourth successive league defeat.

No wonder Villa manager David O'Leary is urging his board of directors to offer a new contract to Davis who has been a virtual ever-present since breaking into the first XI a year ago. O'Leary sees the Ballymena-born player as the type of player around which to build a team capable of challenging for honours at Villa Park.

Charlton can have no complaints about the outcome and home keeper Thomas Sorensen did not have a worthwhile save to make in the entire 90 minutes.

In contrast, his Charlton counterpart Stephan Andersen had to pull off several important stops and he may feel aggrieved at possibly being obstructed by Kevin Phillips in the build-up to the goal.

But before that Villa had been denied a clear-cut penalty for a push on Baros who was lively in attack while midfielders James Milner and the rock-solid Gavin McCann also impressed.

Villa were the first to threaten after Phillips was brought down by Chris Powell with McCann only just too high with a looping header from Milner's free-kick. The Villa midfielder forced Andersen to turn a first time drive around the post after he had exchanged passes with Milan Baros.

An inswinging corner from Milner found its way to Baros at the far post but it seemed to catch the Czech international by surprise as it bounced up off his chest. Villa skipper Olof Mellberg was relieved when he sliced his attempted clearance from Darren Ambrose's low right-wing cross over his own crossbar.

Charlton started to come more into the game but Andersen was fortunate when he came well off his line to try to deal with a cross from Wilfred Bouma and completed misjudged the flight of the ball. It broke to leading scorer Phillips on the far edge of the area but he was unable to take advantage.

Milner had a shot from the right of the area well blocked by Powell after a good move involving Liam Ridgewell, Gareth Barry and McCann.

Charlton threatened for the first time in the 39th minute when Darren Bent came within inches of registering his eighth league goal of the season.

Villa retaliated and Andersen did well to deny Baros from close range after Phillips had controlled a deep cross from Baros and flicked the ball back inside for his strike partner.

Andersen then parried a long-range effort from Milner as Villa ended the opening 45 minutes on the offensive and in injury-time Ridgewell got up at the far post but could not keep his header down from Barry's corner.

Curbishley made a half-time substitution, taking off Darren Ambrose and replacing him with Kevin Lisbie as he reverted to a 4-4-2 formation. Radostin Kishishev became the first player to be booked after 53 minutes after disputing a free-kick awarded against Talal El Karkouri.

Villa looked to be denied a penalty in the 58th minute when Baros was barged off the ball by El Karkouri but referee Mark Clattenburg waved aside their strong appeals.

The home side were now in the ascendancy with Barry having a shot inadvertently blocked by Ridgewell and then seeing a free-kick saved by Andersen.

After 69 minutes Villa finally broke the deadlock through Davis. Andersen failed to deal with a cross from Milner when challenged by Phillips and the ball broke to Baros whose close-range shot hit the bar. Charlton only managed to scramble the ball to the edge of the box and Davis' left-footed effort beat the dive of Andersen.

Baros was booked, apparently for feigning injury, after there appeared to be no contact in a challenge from Hermann Hreidarsson, and then Ridgewell and the Czech striker could both have extended the lead for Villa. The game ended with Sorensen not having been called upon to save a shot in anger during the entire 90 minutes.

Comments