Brave Villa snatch point
Villa silence celebrations at the bridge. Aston Villa overcame some ludicrous and home cooking refereeing to grab a point at Stamford Bridge. Villa held Chelsea and frustrated the home fans for the first 20 minutes, holding them to one hopeful overhead kick and nothing else. Then the game sprang to life due to a nothing incident thanks to the poor referee. A high ball played by Lampard was watched by Collins who jumped for the header, not realizing Malouda had ducked down, making a back. The hapless ref pointed to the spot much to the anger of Brad Friedel who was immediately booked. Lampard converted and Collins argued his case and joined Petrov and Friedel in the book, Petrov for an earlier very ugly tackle. Villa were furious at the decision. Had Terry done the same thing to Agbonlahor, there was no way he ever would have given the spot kick. Villa began jumping into tackles and soon were on 6 cautioned when Agbonlahor and Clarke were done for mistimed tackles and Young for dissent. Heskey was warned when he tried to block Terry's clearance, then Ashley Cole went down as if in serious pain from an Agbonlahor challenge, but replays showed the striker wasn't close to his leg. The referee completely ignored Ferreira's 3 fouls in the opening 20 minutes and even gave a play on signal when Cole lashed out at Agbonlahor with his feet, but did not go back and caution the England left back. Not long before half time Essien knocked over Reo-Coker in the area, the ref had no choice but to give a penalty. Although, it seemed more like a make up call from a ref realizing the earlier mistake. Young smashed home the kick. Minutes later Young was through on goal when Essien tripped the winger. Villa's biggest threat was always going to be from corners and free- kicks with all 4 back men 6ft plus coming up.But, for the most part, Villa's crossing was woefull except a header put over the bar by Clarke. A minute into the second half and Essien had committed his 3rd foul in 8 minutes of game time. The ball found its way to Downing, who sent in his finest cross of the game and Heskey put Villa 2-1 up. Heskey was booked minutes later for, according to the ref's hand signal, his 3rd offence, while Essien soon added his fourth foul with ne'er a warning. Terry was able to run his mouth off to the ref at will about anything without retribution, Villa had now, 8 players in the book with Reo-Coker, the other Villa player. Chelsea had 1. Chelsea began to play, after the Villa goal and Villa began to play deeper. With Downing, becoming less of a factor and Petrov, only, passing backwards, mis-timing tackles, mis-kicking the ball on 3 occasions and getting caught in possession, a change was desperately needed to shore up the middle. Chelsea made all 3 changes. Botswanga came on to had an attacking flair on the right, Mikel also came to the right to pick on Clarke's inexperience at left back and Sturridge replaced a very quiet Anelka , who had found no joy against either Clarke or Cuellar on his wing runs. With Agbonlahor, Young and Clarke all struggling with knocks and Petrov and Downing seemingly lost, Villa were outgunned and eventually, Villa's defence broke down. Dunne, made his one single mistake of the game and Villa were punished. Drogba stole in, passed to Mikel, who should have buried his chance, but Friedel made a second stunning save of the game. But, the rebound fell to Drogba and his patience allowed him to slot home the goal. Finally, Agbonlahor was brought off, due to injury. But, replacement Albrighton's first significant involvement, was a defensive lapse that seemingly gave the match to Chelsea. Young lion Marc lost the ball out wide, a cross was sent in headed back across goal. A snap shot was save brilliantly by Friedel, but, the rebound fell to Terry who side footed, much like Van Der Vaart did on boxing day, into the back of the net. An embarrassing scene of about 40 seconds of celebration followed, with again no card in sight by the ref, although, to be fair, he let Ashley Young slide after the penalty. Villa immediately hit back and Downing found Cuellar in space, but, unlike Botswanga, his cross was horrible. Villa broke away one more time, but received a free kick instead. Villa gained control of the long punt. Albrighton had the ball just out of the area and every Villa fan was just hoping for the goal against Spurs to be re-lived, but, when, he was closed down, that seemed to disappear, but he got around him man and sent in a perfect cross that Ciaran Clarke seemed to know was coming. His perfect header left Cech helpless and Villa grabbed a deserved point and left Chelsea looking as fragile as Villa have looked throughout this season. This was a lot like a game we drew 4-4 when it seemed another poor ref, Mark Clattenburg had stolen from us a few seasons ago and Ashley Cole went from celebrating to getting a red card and giving up a penalty in seconds. Hopefully this is the catalyst Villa need.
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