Objective achieved. 40 points. Safety. Surely?
Villa today all but assured themselves of Premiership survival after a fine display at Upton Park. The win lifts the club into the top half of the table, whilst dealing a hammer blow to West Ham’s survival hopes. Strikes from goal machine Darren Bent and super sub Agbonlahor sealed the points.
The home side started well however – and the former Wolves and Coventry striker Robbie Keane opened the scoring after the kind of defending that has seen Villa struggle this season. However, Villa are made of sterner stuff these days and with attacking options such as Downing, Bent and Young threatened throughout.
And the revival never seemed in doubt Bent had yet another goal disallowed – bumbling referee Mark Halsey seeing a fair aerial challenge as a push when the prolific striker headed home. Decisions such as this does little to promote respect campaigns for officials. Poor once again from the man in middle.
However, Bent was prowling and after Mark Noble had a vacant moment for West Ham, Emile Heskey dispossessed him – the two Youngs combined and from the subsequent cross Bent headed home. The referee resisted the urge to disallow another goal for no reason. And thus the game was on.
The second half was not so much of a contest as Villa besieged their opponents. Young and Coker had long term efforts saved whilst Dunne had a header cleared off the line with the goal begging. As the half progressed the match could easily have slipped into the catagory of “1-1 massacre”. West Ham had opportunities too but Villa were reassuringly resilient – or Carlton Cole was the wasteful striker whom we’ve become accustomed to seeing.
As the 92nd minute ticked over Ashley Young weaved some magic, turning the West Ham defence inside out before curling a delightful ball onto the head of substitute Agbonlahor. Gabby made no mistake from all of 6 yards to haul Villa up the table, stoke the fire of relegation for the hammers and steal all 3 points for the Villa. Superb. Just superb.