Saturday, 13 December 2014
West Bromwich Albion 1-0 Aston Villa match report Saturday 13th December 2014
The man who has played for West Brom, Aston Villa and Birmingham settled a closely fought game when he fired home from close range after a Stephane Sessegnon shot was blocked and rebounded into his path
Despite going down to 10 men when Kieran Richardson saw red, the Baggies' found it hard to break down the wall of claret and blue shirts despite having the majority of possession. With time running short, it was Gardner who finally found the net.
The victory relieved the pressure on Baggies' manager Alan Irvine. Coming into the fixture his team had not won in five matches and they were facing a Villa team who's recent fortunes have changed after winning two consecutive matches as well as welcoming the return of star striker Christian Benteke.
Despite this they matched their Midlands rival's in the eatly exchanges. The game was pretty much evenly matched until with 22 minutes gone Kieran Richardson was sent off. After overrunning the ball on the left hand side he slid in to get it back but went in with his studs raised and made contact with the ankle of Sessegnon. Referee Mike Dean, known for his red streak justifiably reached for his back pocket and sent off the former West Brom player.
After the dismissal Villa sat deep and rarely threatened the West Brom goal. Albion dominated posession but couldn't create any clear cut chances and subsequently the game was scoreless at half time.
The second half followed the same pattern as the first with Albion dominating proceedings. With 58 minutes gone Sylvestre Varela, who was making his first appearance since joining West Brom in the summer, cut in from the left hand side and shot with his stronger right foot but his effort was narrowly over Brad Guzan's crossbar. Sessegnon also had an effort on goal that was easily saved by Guzan too.
Irvine decided to bring on his star striker Saido Berahino. Dropped to the bench for this game and the 0-0 draw at Hull, the England striker had a huge point to prove and played a huge part in the deciding goal. He picked the ball up on the right hand side, crossed to the far post. Guzan punched the original effort but it fell to Sessegnon who's effort on goal was also blocked but Gardner was there to shoot through a crowd of players to settle the match and also score his first goal first West Brom.
After the game Alan Irvine said "relieved? That's one emotion certainly! obviously delighted first of all but relieved to get that win that we've probably deserved" and "you're always looking for more. I felt that as long as we kept making the right decisions and played with intelligence that chances would come".
Villa manager Paul Lambert said "Kieran's (Richardson) enthusiam was what got him sent off" and that he had "No complaints" about the red card which ultimately cost his team the win.