Townsend and Soldado Goals Secure Tottenham Win At Aston Villa


Paulinho congratulates Soldado with a kiss. [Photo: Alan Hill]Aston Villa Match Report

As the team walked out on the pitch it was pouring with rain. Good news pre-match is that Michael Dawson has signed new a contract with Spurs. Townsend starts so does Lewis Holtby. Mousa Dembele is rested. Sandro gets his first start this season.

1st Half

Vertonghen of all people appears on the left wing after 5 minutes and flashes a cross in which produces a corner. Like so many Spurs set pieces in recent games it floats over harmlessly. 10th minute, Westwood booked for whacking Holtby on the shin. Free kick from right produces another corner which is cleared easily.

Spurs are starting to play their now familiar possession football but Villa are making them do it in their own half        .

17th min Good build up and a shot from Sandro 20 yards out in a central position is smothered by the goalie.

20 mins Lambert doing pantomime histrionics on the touchline, pressurising the referee ever since Westwood was booked. A floated cross from a free kick bounces awkwardly in front of Lloris who scoops it away as he dives to his left. He has made a couple of dodgy clearances which have put us back under pressure.

Agbonlahor speeds down the left to get a corner. It is even worse than Tottenham’s. I don’t think it even enters the field of play as it soars behind the bar.

Gary Neville points out that Andros Townsend has struggled for space and that we are too predictable. We get a free kick on the right. Wasted again as it clears everyone and goes off for a goal kick. Villa hit us on the break and a shot sails past the bar/post.

This all looks a bit more like the morning after the night before. Unfortunately we have picked up from where we left off against West Ham. Until that game I thought it was part of some new master plan to lure our opponents into a false sense of security. We are about to find out.

And we do. Holtby receives the ball in the hole, passes it out to Townsend who floats in a really good ball onto the penalty spot. Soldado and Holtby both duck underneath it and it drops into the net.

During the celebrations a flare in a metal can spurting blue smoke comes out of the crowd and hits a linesman on the back of the neck. Probably a Spurs fan because of the colour of the smoke. That should be a prison sentence for the assault and a lifetime ban. Come on, you must be able to trace him. We don’t want fans that will do that at any club in the country. That is what we should be protected from, not harmless chanting. They need to nip this new fashion for flares in the bud. The police’s leniency at Wembley sent the wrong message. Still, I am sure they will be more than happy to make an example of Spurs. It’s not like they’ll be upsetting the Polish community.

39 mins. Free kick for Villa just outside the area. Clears the wall and over the bar.

40 mins. A quick break down the right. Walker and Townsend combine well. It’s becoming end to end stuff, more exciting at the end of the half. Delph flashes a shot for Villa just past the post.

45 (+3) mins. Brilliant play by Townsend in a build-up reminiscent of England on Tuesday. A rasping shot from him is just pushed round the post. A good way to finish the half.

Half-time  Thoughts – Villa 0 Spurs 1

The first half hasn’t given me much confidence. Benteke is on the bench and Villa are bound to give it a go. Glenn Hoddle has just expressed the same concern on the TV commentary and has said Spurs need to up their game.

2nd Half

Is it me or our samba stars looking a bit forlorn in the cold and wet? Villa start brightly as expected. Townsend cuts in from the left inside two players but scythes it wide of the post with the outside of his left foot. A bit of a wild swing as he went off balance. Oh well, you can’t win them all.

50th min a flick from Soldado onto a run from Paulinho produces a good shot and a good save. The game has definitely come to life. There is a reason why clichés have become clichés and here’s one. The next goal will be crucial.

Dawson booked – Villa free kick on the right. El Ahmadi strikes the clearance into the crowd.

56th min. Townsend slides over an inviting cross after combining with Walker. No one has made the striker’s run in anticipation and it rolls harmlessly across goal. It’s where you would have expected Soldado to be on the end of it. Townsend clearly did.

60th min. Benteke warming up. Vlaar clears yet another Townsend cross. Corner from Sigurdsson onto the heads of the Villa centre halves. Holtby blasts the headed clearance over the bar. That’s becoming a speciality corner for us. I preferred the old Teddy Sheringham one. You know, the one we used to score from. We might as well save time and just let the opposition have a goal kick when we get a corner.

Benteke now on. Hold  on to your hats.

64 mins. Two crosses in two successive Villa attacks, one from the right one from the left. Both hit Benteke. Now they have a corner. I think we know what’s coming unless something is done.

In response, AVB does do something. He brings on Aaron Lennon for Sigurdsson. Let’s see some real service for Soldado on the counter.

Agbonlahor and Benteke playing as a joint strike force. Benteke header into Lloris’ arms. He’s has 4 chances in 8 minutes…and we hit them with the classic sucker punch. A quick classy break down the left. Paulinho quick and composed just outside the box slots it through to Soldado who whips it over the goalie with supreme confidence. Perfect. Just what we needed when it was looking so dodgy. Credit to AVB again.  He had me worried. We then completely dominate the next 10 mins and could easily have had a third.

73rd min. AVB sends Dembele on for Holtby, clearly looking to solidify midfield. The Villa crowd have gone quiet. Their team looks a bit deflated.

Tonev now on for Agbonlahor. Lambert giving it one last throw of the dice.

79th min. a great cross from Townsend who in the second half has run their left back into the ground. D’oh! Paulinho blows his man of the match chances by missing an easy gentle header virtually on the line. When you were a kid, did you ever close your eyes just before the impact of a header and then wonder where the ball went? I think that’s what I’ve just seen him do. Same reason you never saw Gary Lineker heading it. Still, no harm done this time.

86th min. Defoe coming on for Soldado. Come on Jermain put the icing on the cake.

4 minutes of added time. Andros Townsend floats in another cross but Defoe beaten to the header. Ironically it was more suited to Soldado who has just gone off.

Flurry of bookings at the end, as the Villa players show their frustration. Lennon picks one up too.

Final Thoughts – Villa 0 Spurs 2

In the end a competent win. Back to where we were before the West Ham game, thank goodness. We still look like a work in progress with promise. If only we could just be consistently more of an incisive goal threat. We’re 5th but more importantly only 3 points behind Arsenal at the top.