Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Aston Villa 1 -1 Southampton. Match report November 25 2014

Nathaniel Clyne snatched a late equaliser to keep Southampton second in the Premiership and leave Aston Villa still struggling for points.

The 23-year-old, fresh after his England senior call up, drilled home from 20 yards out to earn his side a deserved point against a Villa side who desperately needed all three. 

Despite earning their second successive draw, which brought an end to their run of six games without a win, the home  side found themselves just a point above relegation coming into the fixture against a Southampton side who started the day second in the Premier League table, eight points behind leaders Chelsea.

The Saints' were frustrated in the first half by the defensively minded Villans. The "tika taka" football around the edge of the box that has seen Southampton become the surprise package of the season was shepherded sensibly by the emergency centre back pairing of Jores Okore and Ciaran Clark. As a result chances were few and far between. 

But the deadlock was broken from an unlikely source with 29 minutes gone. Ciaran Clark's clearance was seized on by the supersonic Gabriel Agbonlahor who exerted enough pressure on Saints' defender Toby Alderweireld and England 'keeper Fraser Forster to cause a  miscommunication which left the Villa striker to fire home from a tight angle. The goal was Villa's first in seven matches and a huge relief for Paul Lambert and his men. 

Despite their lead Villa still found themselves pegged back by the passing prowess of their opponents. Dusan Tadić floated in a couple of good free kicks from 30 yards but to no avail. 

Southampton enjoyed 64% of possession in the game but couldn't find an opening. The link up between striker Graziano Pelle and former West Bromwich Albion man Shane Long was lacking and subsequently their play broke down on the edge of the box. 

With 10 minutes to go, Villa broke from a corner but Andreas Weimann lifted Agbonlahor's cross from the right hand side, high over the crossbar. A chance he would come to regret not taking moments later.

With time running out, Southampton  finally got their equaliser. Ryan Bertrand, who spent the last half of the previous season on loan in the West Midlands, easily skipped past his man on the left hand side of the penalty area and cut the ball back to the edge of the box where the on-rushing Clyne fired home into the bottom corner to level the match and create was in the end a fair result for both teams.

The result saw Villa climb a place to 16th in the table. Okore and Clarke defended well when called upon despite being an untested central pairing and they took their only chance of the game in a determined nature.

Southampton are still overachieving in terms of their league position but not face a tough winter with games against the top teams. But for now manager Ronald Koeman said he was happy with his team's start to the season. 

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