Aston Villa 0 Blackburn Rovers 1: match report
So Aston Villa's season ended as it begun, with a back-slapping showcase of highlights on the Villa Park big screen followed by a lacklustre performance and defeat to inferior opposition. The only thing that didn't fit the pattern was that it was Richard Dunne, the players' Player of the Year, who was responsible, rounding off what has been an excellent season, individually speaking, with an own goal. Dunne wasn't in situ when Villa lost to Wigan on the first day of the season, but he has been central to their success this season. And success it has been: thanks to Liverpool's inability to overcome Hull, Villa scraped sixth place, and though it is the third consecutive season they have ended up two places outside the top four, given the competition this time around it can be considered progress. Aston Villa v Newcastle United: Alan Shearer faces up to biggest challenge of his careerFA Cup fifth round draw: Big guns kept apartThose who braved the surprisingly frigid conditions to see in the end of the season were not rewarded with a classic, although there would have been more excitement had James Collins been penalised for a poor challenge in the area on David Dunn, and an equally poor one from Christopher Samba on John Carew at the other end. Referee Steve Bennett was not, however, in a giving mood. It was, intriguingly, Collins who best managed to inject some urgency into proceedings, the defender provoking Paul Robinson into a reflex save with his near post header in the seventh minute, and testing the Blackburn goalkeeper again with the half hour mark approaching, pulling the trigger of a zippy effort from range. Robinson, clearly caught by surprise, fumbled the ball and was fortunate that Gabby Agbonlahor was day-dreaming. The few Blackburn supporters who had thought the trip worthwhile would have been furious that they were not rewarded with a penalty after the resumption when Dunn broke through the Villa back four and was tripped by Collins. Incredibly, Bennett interpreted Dunn's tumble as a dive; it would be hard to find a more clear-cut penalty, unless, of course, one referred to Samba's challenge on Carew with 25 minutes remaining. That this did not end a bore draw was down to Martin Olsson's excellent cross just six minutes from time. Junior Hoilett escaped Dunne, who had no real option but to attempt to head the ball towards Brad Friedel. As it was, his effort was a little too strong. An undignified ending.
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