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Saturday, 2nd March 2002

Aston Villa 2
West Ham United 1

by Dan O'Rourke

Don't think that because we conceded a goal in injury time that we were unlucky. We got exactly what we deserved - nothing.

Yes it was cruel the way it happened but we were awful and didn't deserve a thing.

The blame has to partly go to Roeder. He got his formation totally wrong and when he did finally bring on Labant he kept the same system.

We went 1-0 up after about 12 minutes through a penalty. Some good work from Defoe led to him being chopped down in the box and penalty being given. Di Canio stepped up and put the ball in the back of the net.

After the goal we looked very shaky and Angel scored soon after with a soft header. Our defence once again looked crap and they couldn't seem to deal with the crosses coming in.

After they equalised our supporters went very quiet and it was like being at Upton Park. 'We only sing when we're winning'?

Villa attacked more and more and we kept giving away free kick after free kick. So when half time came I was pleased not to go in losing.

I was hoping that we would change it in the second half but we didn't. And looked just as bad. We gave the ball away too much.

To our credit when we attacked with Sinclair, Defoe and Di Canio we looked good. There were patches in the second half where we might have nicked a goal.

Unfortunately there were never more than two of our players in the box. In fact, I think only Defoe was actually in the box when we attacked, on most occasions.

Di Canio drifted out to the wings - where he was looked quite good - but only in patches, a little like like the rest of the team. Garcia proved once again to me that he will never make it at this level - he just looked out of his depth. He was eventually replaced with about 25 minutes to go by Labant.

Villa pushed forward more, and we were dealing with their attacks - but only just. We gave away several silly free kicks during this period, although the ref (Barber) was very
picky.

We had a few chances - Cole with the most notable when he shot straight at Schmeichel after good work from Labant and Di Canio on the left. And that we thought, was that.

However, we still had two minutes of injury time to play - and in the second minute Villa scored from a cross which was tapped in by Darius Vassell. It was (the dreadful) Ian Pearce who was caught out, and we paid for it.

I believe that had we had Freddie Kanoute today things may have been different. Jermain Defoe ran his heart out, but the long ball game we adopted was just not for him.

Once again we go into a home game (Everton on Wednesday night) saying 'we have got to win this one'. And I have no doubts that we will - but a slip up could put us in big, big trouble, with games against Man Utd And Arsenal to follow Everton's visit to the Boleyn.

Another away game - another defeat.

Vinny Ryan

Player Ratings
by Vinny Ryan

David James (7) Made a few important saves and looked good in the air. A commanding performance.

Seb Schemmel (6) Didn't get forward enough - when he did he looked a little slow; poor overall.

Tomas Repka (6) Looked a little shaky. Won a lot of balls in the air though.

Christian Dailly (6) Gave 100% today. Made some important interceptions.

Ian Pearce (5) Looked slow and unfit. I think we noticed this in the game against 'Boro but as we won it was overlooked. Ian still needs a few more reserve matches. At fault for Villa's winner.

Nigel Winterburn (6) I hardly noticed him today, which, I suppose, is a good thing for a defender.

Joe Cole (6) Overran in midfield but he was the only central midfielder we were playing with.

Trevor Sinclair (6) Trevor worked hard but got lost at times in the second half. He, along with Di Canio were our main source of attack in the first half.

Richard Garcia (5) Started well but then drifted out of the game. He is not the answer.

Jermain Defoe (6) Ran his heart out and tried to win every high ball but we should not play long ball to him. Won the penalty, but not really in the game.

Paolo Di Canio (6) Paolo played a part in every attack we conjured. If he didn't have the ball we didn't go forward. Scored the goal - albeit a penalty.

Vladimir Labant (6) - did nothing of note.

KUMB Stats

West Ham United: James, Pearce, Repka, Dailly, Winterburn, Schemmel, Garcia, Cole, Sinclair, Di Canio, Defoe

Subs: Labant (Garcia 68), McCann, Kitson, Hislop, Minto

Aston Villa: Schmeichel, Delaney, Mellberg, Staunton, Samuel, Hadji, Boateng, Barry, Hitzlsperger, Angel, Vassell

Subs: Merson (Hadji 78), Enckelman, Hendrie, Balaban, Kachloul

Goals: Di Canio (pen 13), Angel (23), Vassell (89)

Booked: Pearce (foul 55)

Referee: G. Barber

Attendance: 37,341

Man of the match: David James

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