Villa's lucky strike

Martin Thorpe
Date Published: 
UK Guardian

Aston Villa 2, Coventry City 1

APART from the incongruous chant of "Jozef Venglos's claret and blue army", everything seems to be fitting in nicely at Villa. On Saturday they picked up not only their first League win of the season but something which will serve them equally well at this testing time, some luck.

Having felt the fates were against them in the opening matches, Villa can have had no complaints against Coventry: Nielsen's awful back-pass was saved by the post, Regis missed from six yards and Speedie from eight.

If all this suggests that the new Villa manager should be worrying less about whether he has luck on his side than decent defenders, Coventry's near misses were just part of the fabric of an exciting game in which Villa also had their close encounters.

That Villa eventually won will have done no harm to the self-belief of a club still wondering about life under a Czechoslovak. "The players respect him," said his assistant, John Ward. "And his communication is getting better. He's learning to swear in English now."

He seemed to have no trouble interpreting the crowd request of "Jozef, Jozef give us a wave", his response signalling Villa's first goal.

Kilcline, pussy-footing around in his own half, was dispossessed by the impressive Cascarino whose through ball led to Platt being brought down for a penalty he go up to convert.

Cascarino's problem, until the arrival of the Trinidad World Cup player Dwight Yorke, was the need for a more mobile, inventive striking partner than Olney. Villa might then have had a bigger cushion to buffer Coventry's second-half surge.

The visitors, chasing their first win ever at Villa Park and despite having injured players on and off the pitch, produced some hearteningly creative football. In the centre of much of it was the Uruguayan captain Joe Perdomo, playing his first game for Coventry who have a year's option to buy him for £400,000 from Genoa. It would be a bargain.

Coventry's equaliser came from a 20-yard shot from Borrows, "the best right-back in the country," says his manager John Sillett. But his side were undone by another piece of Villa luck, Yorke's shot deflecting to Cascarino who needed two goes before stabbing home.

Which is where Venglos was yesterday, checking Villa's Uefa Cup opponents Banik Ostrava. They beat the champions Sparta Prague last week. Villa will need more than luck to win that.

SCORERS: Aston Villa: Platt (pen, 39min), Cascarino (78). Coventry: Borrows (50).

Aston Villa: Spink; Price, B Gallacher, P McGrath, Mountfield, Nielsen, Daley, Platt, Olney (Yorke, 72), Cowans, Cascarino.

Coventry: Ogrizovic; Borrows, Edwards, L McGrath (Dobson, 88), Kilcline, Peake, K Gallacher, Gynn, Speedie, Drinkell (Regis, 80), Perdomo.

Referee: G Ashby (Worcester).