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Fulham downed by last minute goal

last updated Sunday 26th August 2007, 12:51 AM
Clint Dempsey scores for Fulham
Clint Dempsey scores for Fulham

Aston Villa 2-1 Fulham

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill was banished from the dug-out after a verbal blast at referee Steve Bennett and then saw substitute Shaun Maloney snatch an injury-time winner for a 2-1 success against 10-man Fulham at Villa Park.

rO'Neill watched the second 45 minutes from the press box after berating Bennett as he left the pitch at half-time.

Ashley Young's shot, deflected off Zat Knight, cancelled out Fulham midfielder Clint Dempsey's first-half effort and, after Chris Baird had been sent off with 20 minutes remaining, Maloney struck in the dying seconds.

O'Neill was hugged by fans at the final whistle as Villa grabbed their first win of the campaign after spurning a host of chances.

Young, in particular, was a constant threat and demonstrated why O'Neill had paid Watford £8million for him in January as Villa camped in the Fulham half after the break.

But they looked like paying for lacking the necessary finishing power in the danger area until Maloney settled the issue.

It means Fulham are still searching for their first away win since September.

Steven Davis had an early opportunity to make his mark against his former employers after seizing on a square pass from Simon Davies but, as he lined up a left-footed drive, he was on the receiving end of an excellent tackle from Mellberg.

Baird was yellow-carded for the first time after five minutes for clipping Young when in full flight.

But 60 seconds later the Cottagers stunned Villa by taking the lead through Dempsey.

Match Stats Aston Villa Fulham
Goals 2 1
Possession 59% 41%
Goal attempts 25 10
On Target 4 5
Corners 12 3
Off-sides 8 1
Saves 4 7
Fouls 11 13
Yellows 1 2
Reds 0 1
source: Soccernet

Diomansy Kamara's pass took a deflection off a Villa player into the path of the midfielder, whose rising left-footed drive beat Scott Carson via the underside of the crossbar.

Young was soon tormenting Fulham and he screwed a right-footed drive just past the post.

Carew had his first clear sight of goal following a pass from Young, but the former Lyon player was not sharp enough and Paul Konchesky was able to make ground and make the tackle before he could shoot.

Fulham looked to have strong claims for a penalty in the 31st minute when a half volley from Kamara at close range appeared to be handled by Martin Laursen, but referee Bennett waved play on.

Carew had another opportunity after the ball cannoned off Konchesky into his path, but the ex-West Ham player got back quickly to put him off and the eventual low shot was easily dealt with by Keller.

Gabriel Agbonlahor had a golden chance after 35 minutes from a well measured pass from Nigel Reo-Coker. The England Under-21 player took the ball confidently enough in his stride but slipped his shot the wrong side of the post.

Wilfred Bouma became the first Villa player to be yellow-carded after 40 minutes for bringing down Dempsey.

In first-half injury-time Carew thudded a header against the post from a Young corner.

O'Neill had been involved in an angry exchange with referee Bennett when he left the field at half-time - and he took up a place in the press box for the second period after being banished from the dug-out.

Villa brought on Luke Moore for Petrov for the second 45 minutes and within five minutes the home side were back on level terms.

Reo-Coker's pass found the impressive Young in space on the left flank and he cut into the area before beating Keller with a cross-shot which took a deflection off Zat Knight into the far corner of the net.

That came a minute before Kamara had been close to doubling Fulham's lead with a low curling shot which defeated the dive of Carson but rebounded off a post to safety.

Villa were now in the ascendancy and Kelley turned a powerful shot on the turn from Moore around the post.

Carew continued to spurn decent chances, heading wide from a Barry centre and then heading just over from a Young cross.

Fulham were forced into a defensive substitution as Knight limped out of the action to be replaced by Ian Pearce.

Then the visitors were reduced to 10 men with 20 minutes remaining as Baird picked up a second yellow card for a challenge on Young just outside the box.

Dempsey almost won the game for Fulham in a rare attack, but Carson did well to keep out his close-range header - and then came Maloney's late winner.

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill admitted referee Steve Bennett was correct to banish him from the dug out after he saw Shaun Maloney grab an injury-time winner against Fulham from the confines of the press box.

O'Neill was given his marching orders after striding on to the pitch at half-time to remonstrate with Bennett.

Fulham led at the interval through a Clint Dempsey goal but an inspired second-half performance was capped by Maloney's winner in the first minute of injury time to give Villa their first victory of the campaign.

O'Neill said: 'The referee was right. I shouldn't be publicly remonstrating with him coming off the field.

'I should have waited until we got to the privacy of the dressing room. I thought - probably wrongly now - that a Fulham player was down injured for the two minutes extra added on at the end of the first half.

'The referee told me at half-time that he had played two and a half minutes. I apologise to him. I should not have remonstrated like I did.

'It was different watching the game from up above - but it would have been an injustice if we had not have won.

'We were exhilarating going forward and the crowd stayed with us to the very end.'

O'Neill admitted he had required a club steward to relay the message to the dug out to bring on Maloney for the final seven minutes.

And the former Celtic forward repaid him by slotting home the winner from a sliderule pass from the ever dangerous Ashley Young.

O'Neill said: 'There are these new sort of phones I am incapable of using so I got the steward sat next to me to send down the message to put Maloney on.

'I thought the game had gone on too late for us to score but it was a great ball from Ashley and, knowing Shaun from his Celtic days, I was confident he would finish.

'I thought Ashley was sensational. When he is in that type of form we always look capable of scoring.'

Fulham had strong claims for a penalty when 1-0 ahead after Craig Gardner appeared to handle in the area but O'Neill had little sympathy.

He said: 'I had a lot of sympathy a couple of weeks ago when Steven Gerrard scored from a free-kick for Liverpool which should not have been awarded. That's the way things go.'

Fulham manager Lawrie Sanchez was unsurprisingly unhappy with referee Bennett for not awarding the spot-kick.

It followed on from last week when David Healy had a goal disallowed against Middlesbrough when replays showed the ball had crossed the line.

Sanchez said: 'It was another major error by a referee. Yet again we have been on the receiving end of such a decision.

'I am very disappointed. If we had been given a penalty when 1-0, there might have been a different outcome. Gardner handled only three yards out and, had we scored the penalty, I am sure we could have held a 2-0 lead.

'We also had no luck at the other end but we also have to look at the fact that we have led three times this season and lost every game. We need to rectify that situation.

'It was poor defending for the winner in injury time.'

Sanchez had no complaints with the sending off of Chris Baird for two bookable offences after he had been given a torrid time by the on-song Young.

The former Northern Ireland boss said: 'I have got no real argument with that decision.'

Aston Villa: Carson, Gardner, Mellberg, Laursen, Bouma (Maloney 83), Petrov (Moore 45), Reo-Coker, Barry, Young, Carew (Harewood 77), Agbonlahor. Subs Not Used: Taylor, Cahill.

Booked: Bouma.

Goals: Knight 51 og, Maloney 90.

Fulham: Keller, Baird, Knight (Pearce 56), Bocanegra, Konchesky, Davies, Davis, Smertin, Dempsey, Kamara (Volz 69), Healy (John 65). Subs Not Used: Warner, Diop.

Booked: Baird (5,f), Kamara (68,tw).

Sent Off: Baird (2nd yel(f),68).

Goals: Dempsey 6
(drilled left-footed into top-left of goal from the centre of the penalty area. Assist, pass, by Diomansy Kamara.

Att: 36,638

Ref: Steve Bennett (Kent).

Source soccernet
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