Fulham 0- Aston Villa 2

Posted on January 30, 2010


Aston Villa came in to Craven Cottage and fully obliterated the last vestiges of the ‘fortress’ reputation from last year.  2-0 was the final score, both goals coming courtesy of Gabby Agbonlahor just before the game broke for half-time.  Fulham made some late moves in the final 25 minutes to keep the game interesting, but aside from David Elm’s late goal that was waved off for offside, there was never much of a threat brewing.

The Agbonlahor goals were a credit to the Villa striker’s skill, but some pretty shoddy defending by Fulham in the middle definitely played a role in both.  Shockingly the culprits were two of Fulham’s most-coveted players- recent Manchester United purchase Chris Smalling badly misjudged a header that led to the first, and then oft-speculated-about Brede Hangeland was caught high on an entry pass 4 minutes later, leaving Agbonlahor to merely turn and fire in a purposeful finish off his left foot for the second.  In both cases better defending should have been expected, especially from players with the talent that Hangeland and Smalling possess.  Let’s hope it was just a rough game for those two. 

Many of the backups did not acquit themselves well.  In particular Stephen Kelly had another rough game, particularly with his on-ball distribution.  He sprayed several passes around the park and didn’t look extremely composed when under pressure.  And Bobby Zamora, whose goal-scoring hot streak seems to have come to an end, seems to have reverted back to his previous form as an excellent hold up player with a penchant for cannoning balls well off-target of the goal.  He had several ugly misses today.

It’s hard to know whether the 2-0 scoreline reflects the nature of the game.  Villa definitely played well enough to earn all three points, but Fulham were far from dominated, especially in the latter stages, although it can be said that perhaps Villa took their foot off the gas somewhat.  And despite the ESPN commentator declaring that David Elm’s off-side penalty was an obvious call, I’m not sure.  Replays show that he was off just a bit, but in real time that’s a 50-50 call, and I think it was made simply because of the amount of space the big Swede put between himself and the nearest defender.  That goal would have changed the momentum of the game, and Fulham would have been value for the draw, but today was just not our day.

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