Villa forget Reo-Coker to pile more woe on Pompey

Aston Villa 2 Portsmouth 0

After a day off, Martin O'Neill will arrive for work at Aston Villa today and assess this victory – which was not quite as comfortable as he would have liked – but will probably press the rewind button to watch Gabriel Agbonlahor's goal again. He will talk to his physio to get an update on Emile Heskey's ankle, which was crunched by Tal Ben Haim and led to the England forward limping off and needing an ice pack, and then he will look and see if Nigel Reo-Coker has driven into Bodymoor, the training ground.

O'Neill, the Villa manager, has said he is happy to accept Reo-Coker back into the fold after their public contretemps last week. If he does, it should be a chastened Reo-Coker because this Villa side showed they can cope without him, even if they were playing Portsmouth, who now have made the worst start in the history of the Premier League with six games and six defeats.

Steve Sidwell and Stilian Petrov had more responsibility to hold the midfield in Reo-Coker's absence, but Sidwell believes that Thursday's incident will be forgiven, even if the swearing and grabbing can't be forgotten. He said: "You can see how the gaffer is on the sidelines, he's no different in training. It's the same with Nige, he's a passionate person. I'm sure it's going to be forgotten, put to bed. They're too big characters to let it ruin things. I've talked to Nige and he's going to get his head down. I'm sure they're going to have a chat about it."

This was Villa's fourth consecutive win in the Premier League, lifting them to sixth place. O'Neill's solution to dropping Reo-Coker was to put John Carew alongside Agbonlahor, but it was Nadir Belhadj's foul on Petrov that brought the first goal. James Milner's penalty was emphatic. For the second, Agbonlahor wriggled past the hapless Ben Haim, finishing his run with a curling shot into the top corner.

Paul Hart, the Portsmouth manager, was desperately clutching for positives afterwards, but his striking options are limited and his defence is shot to pieces. If this run continues the only positive may be that Hart will stay in the job, because no one would want to take over from him.

Aston Villa (4-1-4-1): Friedel; Cuellar, Dunne, Collins, Warnock; Milner; Sidwell, Petrov, Young, Carew (Heskey, 66; Delph, 80); Agbonlahor. Substitutes not used: Guzan (gk), Delfouneso, Delph, Shorey, Beye, Gardner.

Portsmouth (4-1-3-2): James; Van den Borre, Kaboul, Ben Haim, Belhadj; Mokoena; Boateng, Brown, O'Hara; Piquionne (Webber, 76) Smith (Kanu, 76). Substitutes not used: Begovic (gk), Mullins, Williamson, Utaka, Yebda.

Referee: S Attwell (Warwickshire).

Booked: Aston Villa Cuellar, Agbonlahor.

Man of the match: Petrov.

Attendance: 35,979

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...