Tim Sherwood's first game as manager of Aston Villa ended in a disappointing defeat thanks to an injury time spot kick winner by Victor Moses.
The 46 year old’s arrival sent an air of optimism around Villa Park and all looked good for 44 and a half minutes when Sherwood and the 31,000 fans were sent crashing down to earth as Stoke striker Mame Biram Diouf powered a Stephen Ireland cross into the net to equalise a 19th minute goal from Scott Sinclair.
A distraught Sherwood made no effort to defend his side's sorry performance after the game saying "the performance wasn't great" and he realised the extent of the task in front of him with "it's going to be a work in progress and a lot of work needs to be done... It's going to be about putting the right jigsaw together".
Villa started the game well and dominated midfield with fine interplay between Carlos Sanchez, Carles Gill and Fabien Delph. A 19th minute corner seemed to have gone over everyone to safety but the England midfielder chased the ball on the left and fired in a pinpoint cross which was flicked in by on-loan striker Sinclair. Cue mass hysteria as Villa fans celebrated a new era.
Minutes later Sinclair almost added a second when he powered through the centre of the Stoke defence only to be thwarted as he went to pull the trigger.
All looked well until 20 seconds before half time when Villa failed to deal with a throw-in on the right corner where Jonathan Walters fed former Villa midfielder Ireland who fired in a pinpoint cross which Diouf headed home.
The goal certainly changed the game as Stoke dominated the second half leaving the Villa players chasing shadows. Stoke manager Mark Hughes changed the tactics around perfectly, allowing their opponent’s little in terms of attacking impetus.
The physical affair resulted in injuries to Villa’s Kieran Richardson while Potters defender Erik Pieters limped off but the most unorthodox injury was referee Roger East who, while trying to keep up with the pace of the game went down with cramp in his calf which was greeted by sarcastic jeers from both sets of fans. Fourth official Tony Harrington warmed up but was not needed.
The longer the game went on, the more obvious it was that Sherwood and his players would settle for a point but all that changed in the third minute of time added on. Potters’ flying winger Moses burst into the left hand side of the penalty area and was brought down by Villa captain Ron Vlaar who, having been booked a few minutes before, was given his marching orders. The Nigerian stepped up and coolly converted the penalty to ensure his side went home with all three points.
After the game Mark Hughes described Stoke’s display as ‘... an excellent away performance’.
“We needed to bounce back after last week’s disappointment against Blackburn and we did that. In the second half we were the better team and we got the rewards in the end.” He said. “We are delighted with the three points and it is a great reaction after the last two results.”
New boss Tim Sherwood could not hide his disappointment at the defeat. “I am bitterly disappointed for everyone at this football club,“ he said. “We started well and got the goal but switched off before half time and I did think the match would peter out to be a draw but it wasn’t to be. It was a cruel way to lose the game. I am devastated, No-one feels as down as I am.”
When asked what was needed to turn things round Sherwood added. “We have to try and affect games. We have the quality in the squad but it’s just a matter of putting the right jigsaw together to win the games.”