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Fulham miss chances - The Observer

last updated Sunday 10th November 2002, 8:40 PM
Aston Villa (1) 3 Fulham (0) 1
Aston Villa delivered a much-needed success in a game that started shabbily, but developed into a rousing affair. It ended their run of five Premiership matches without a win and improved a wretched scoring record.

     
  Fulham Japanese midfielder Junichi Inamoto  
  Fulham Japanese midfielder Junichi Inamoto tried to score with a stinging volley
 
Marcus Allback has had few chances to shine since joining the club, but he was the catalyst for some brisk attacking in the second half, scoring once and laying on a second. Fulham looked good for a point after equalising, but missed chances at important times proved costly.

This was Villa's first home fixture of the season on a Saturday. 'A strange phenomenon,' declared Villa manager Graham Taylor in his programme notes. 'Don't tell me things haven't changed in this game.'

There was nothing unusual about the opening 20 minutes, though, which were completely devoid of incident. The only shot, delivered by Luis Boa Morte after Martin Djetou dispossessed Ian Taylor, finished nearer the corner flag than the goal. But some excellent play by Taylor led to Villa taking the lead. When Alain Goma headed out a centre, Taylor struck a volley towards the top corner and Edwin van der Sar pulled off a save right out of the top drawer.

Mark Kinsella's resulting corner was flicked on by Taylor to the far post, where Juan Pablo Angel scored his first goal of the season with a header that the goalkeeper partially blocked, but could not keep out. The lead was preserved by Dion Dublin's headed clearance over his own bar from the six-yard line when Steed Malbranque's free-kick threatened an equaliser.

A determined run by Jlloyd Samuel carried him between two defenders and Van der Sar needed to react quickly at his near post to save the defender's angled shot. Steve Marlet had a header ruled out for offside. Then, just before half-time, Peter Enckelman did well to block a shot by Boa Morte, who was given space by Mark Delaney's slip.

Both sides made half-time substitutions, Allback replacing Angel and Junichi Inamoto taking over from Djetou. Fulham immediately came to life, Marlet setting up Malbranque, who put a good chance yards too high.

Boa Morte showed him how it should be done, turning Steve Staunton and sliding his shot past Enckelman for the equaliser, his first league goal of the season.

Gareth Barry crossed straight into the arms of Van der Sar when Dublin played him into space and when Dublin won the ball in the air soon afterwards, Kinsella's drive struck Goma.

As the tempo increased and Fulham grew in confidence, a stinging shot from Inamoto was pushed away by Enckelman. Villa regained the lead, though, with Allback's first Premiership goal for the club. Barry, fed by Samuel, crossed low and as Oyvind Leonhardsen sized up the chance, Allback steamed in to drive low, hard and true.

Villa made sure with another fine goal. Barry crossed to the far post, Allback climbed high to head back to Leonhardsen, who volleyed home his first goal for the club.

Aston Villa (4-4-2):
Enckelman; Delaney, Mellberg, Staunton (Johnsen 76), Samuel; Leonhardsen, I Taylor, Kinsella (Hitzlsperger 62), Barry; Angel (Allback ht), Dublin. Subs not used: Postma, Moore.

Fulham (4-4-2):

Van der Sar; Melville, Goma; Brevett, Finnan; Legwinski, Djetou (Inamoto ht), Malbranque, Ouaddou (Stolcers 72); Marlet, Boa Morte (Sava 78). Subs not used: M Taylor, Knight.

Referee: A D'Urso (Billericay).


Source The Observer by Stuart Barnes

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