Game #4780

Season | 2002-03 |

Matchday | #25 | 

League Game | #18 |
Premier League Match-week | #18 |  

Manager Game | #38 |

Saturday, 14 December 2002
Premier League | Home | West Bromwich Albion | Villa Park | 40,391 | 

Game Summary

Manager | Graham Taylor | 

KO | 15.00 |
Referee | Mike Dean | 
HT Score | 1-1 |

FT Score | 2-1 |
FT Result | Won |

Last 5 Games | WLWLW | 

Scorers | Darius Vassell | 16’ | Thomas Hitzlsperger | 90’ |
Assists | Lee Hendrie | 90’ |

League Position | 15th | - |

Line Up |

GK Peter Enckelman |
LB Steve Staunton | 
BOOKED | 45' | 68' | SENT OFF | 68' |
CB Olof Mellberg |
CB Ronny Johnsen |
FB Jlloyd Samuel |
BOOKED | 35' |
M Lee Hendrie | ASSIST | 90' |
M Gareth Barry |
M Thomas Hitzlsperger | 
GOAL | 90' |
M Öyvind Leonhardsen |
CF Dion Dublin |
F Darius Vassell​ |
GOAL | 16' |

Unused Substitutes |

GK Stefan Postma 
F Marcus Allbäck
RB Ulises de la Cruz
M Mark Kinsella
CF Juan Pablo Ángel 

Cards | 

Yellow | Jlloyd Samuel | 35’ |

Yellow | Steve Staunton | 45’ | 68’ |

Yellow | Lee Hendrie | 86’ |
 Red | Steve Staunton | 68’ |

Team Stats |

Starting XI Average Age | 26.99 | 

Oldest Player | LB Steve Staunton | 33.92 |

Youngest Player | M Thomas Hitzlsperger | 20.71 |

Match Report

The Guardian

Monday, 16 December, 2002

Match report by David Lacey

Albion find all’s flat that runs flat out

West Bromwich Albion could go down like a slow puncture. However much they pump themselves up for a match they all too often end it looking a little flat.

Saturday’s defeat by Aston Villa was typical of much of their season. Albion recovered strongly from conceding an early goal and deserved to be level at half-time but from then on the air steadily went out of their game.

Even when Villa were reduced to 10 men for the last 23 minutes, after Steve Staunton’s dismissal, Albion could not recapture the initiative they had held for a period in the first half. 

Only a combination of bar, post and more outstanding goalkeeping by Russell Hoult held out the prospect of some reward for Albion’s honest efforts. But just when it seemed they had managed to hold Villa to a second draw they lost the match to another of those mighty wallops from the left foot of Thomas Hitzlsperger, which is beginning to look as if it came from the Krupp factory. 

The goal, it is true, owed much to a deflection off Derek McInnes, who was moving in to close the German down. Yet the fierce trajectory of the ricochet still came from the power that Hitzlsperger achieved and his readiness to have a go at the merest glimpse of a chance. 

Hitzlsperger had scored in a similar fashion at Arsenal a fortnight earlier and Graham Taylor said that the way the player moved in from the right to set himself up for a shooting opportunity with his left foot reminded him of Bruce Rioch. It was an apt comparison by the Villa manager although happily Hitzlsperger shows no sign of picking up the Rioch habit of committing horrendous fouls that were out of tune with the rest of his game. 

The nature of the goal probably hurt Hoult as much as the collision with Staunton which laid him out in the third minute. When Hoult recovered he further enhanced his England potential with a series of agile saves, the best of them an extraordinary recovery to touch the ball clear after a headed lob from Dion Dublin had caught him out of position. 

The reservation about Hoult must be that, like two other England hopefuls, David James and Paul Robinson, he is being kept busy and is therefore catching the eye. With Albion he will not get many opportunities to demonstrate his powers of concentration by pulling off saves after long spells of inactivity, which was a particular strength of Ray Clemence. 

For Aston Villa this victory, following defeats by Arsenal and Newcastle United, should have arrested another drift. Villa must be a frustrating team to follow, so often do they raise supporters hopes only to toss them casually aside, and until Hitzlsperger won the game in stoppage time they looked like doing so again. 

Against the raucous background of a midland derby Taylor’s team went ahead just past the quarter-hour when Jason Koumas argued about a free-kick which the referee, Mike Dean, promptly advanced 10 yards into scoring range. Hitzlsperger’s shot rattled off the wall like a piece of shrapnel before falling to Darius Vassell, who scooped the ball gratefully in. 

Falling behind drew a healthy response from Albion as McInnes began to bring the ball forward at speed, linking effectively with Andy Johnson and Koumas, whose technique and vision often caught the eye. It also caught out the Villa defence on the half-hour when Koumas calmly made space for a low 20-yard shot past Peter Enckelman. 

For the rest of the half West Bromwich looked Villa’s equals even if a 25-yard shot from Lee Hendrie did hit their crossbar. But in the second half, with Hendrie keeping McInnes preoccupied defensively, Villa were predominant. 

Staunton, cautioned for dissent in first-half stoppage time, was sent off for elbowing Danny Dichio in the ribs, yet the pattern of the game did not change. In the 83rd minute a free-kick from Hendrie grazed the head of Larus Sigurdsson before rebounding from a post but, if Albion thought their luck was going to hold, Hitzlsperger cruelly proved them wrong.