Game #4670

Season | 2000-01 |

Matchday | #10 |

League Game | #6 |
Premier League Match-week | #6 |
Manager Game | #120 |

Saturday, 23 September 2000

Premier League | Away | Middlesbrough | Riverside Stadium | 27,556 | 

Game Summary

Manager | John Gregory | 

Referee | Mark Halsey | 
HT Score | 0-0 |
FT Score | 1-1 |
FT Result | Drew |
Last 5 Games | DLWWD | 

Scorers | Julian Joachim | 74’ |
Assists | Dion Dublin | 74’ |

League Position | 9th | -2 |

Line Up |

GK David James | 
LB Alan Wright | 
CB Alpay Özalan | 
CB Gareth Southgate | 
M Gareth Barry | 
M George Boateng | 
SUB OFF | 66' |
M Paul Merson | 
M Ian Taylor | 
M Steve Stone | 
W David Ginola | 
SUB OFF | 66' |
CF Dion Dublin | ASSIST | 74' |

Substitutes | 

F Julian Joachim GOAL | 74' | for W David Ginola | 66’ | 
M Lee Hendrie for M George Boateng | 66’ | 

Unused Substitutes |

FB Jlloyd Samuel
CB Ugo Ehiogu
GK Peter Enckelman

Team Stats |

Starting XI Average Age | 29.12 | 

Oldest Player | W David Ginola | 33.68 |

Youngest Player | M Gareth Barry | 19.59 |

Match Report

The Guardian

Sunday, 24 September, 2000

Match Report from John Wilford

Late goal a timely boost for Robson

The Boro fans were clearing their collective throat ready for ‘Robson Out!’ chants when, in the 89th minute, Villa’s Turkish defender Alpay Ozalan, under no particular pressure, turned a centre from Paul Ince into his own net. A stay of execution then for Bryan Robson but his team have still not won a League game at home this term. 

And they can count themselves lucky to have garnered this point. Throughout the first half, they plodded around without plan or purpose. Villa were sharper and more inventive with Ginola, Merson and Boateng showing such flashes of quality that were on offer in a generally mediocre game. 

Admittedly Boro looked better for a spell at the start of the second half and Boksic, the expensive striker, brought James into action for the first time in the game with a header that sent the Villa keeper diving across his goal line. So quiet had been James’s first half that he came out early in the interval to get in some necessary practice. 

If Boro’s goal was a gift from the gods then Villa’s was hardly a contender for goal of the season. Dublin charged down a back pass. The ball cannoned off on-loan keeper Walsh back to Dublin and he slid it into the path of Julian Joachim, substituting for Ginola. Joachim may have improved his current popularity ratings by coolly shooting in to the corner of the net. 

Middlesbrough may lack a recognisable midfield but their greater deficiency is in defence. Villa’s Ugo Ehiogu is reputedly the subject of a £9 million bid by the Teessiders. Villa manager John Gregory hinted that it may not be enough - whatever, Ehiogu stayed firmly on the subs bench for this game. Boro could certainly benefit from his authority in a back line that Ginola turned with ridiculous ease at times.

Villa’s weakness was an inability to translate constructive football into goals. Against a side as ordinary as Boro they should have coasted home. 

John Gregory said: ‘It was disappointing to be caught but the game should have been ours by then.’ 

A relieved Robson said: ‘In any club they expect you to do better at home than away. Up until last season we had an excellent record here.’ 

That’s all in the past Mr Robson. Ehiogu or not, you have a mountain to climb.

Merson is jeered as Robson strikes lucky

Match Report from John Wardle, The Guardian, Monday, 25 September, 2000

Paul Merson dropped to his knees, held his head in his hands and looked a beaten man on the final whistle. An own-goal by his Aston Villa team-mate, the young Turkish defender Alpay Ozalan, had robbed Merson of a deserved taste of victory just a minute from time - but his despair went deeper than that.

Two years ago this month Merson, having helped Boro win promotion to the Premiership, turned his back on the club with a bitter defection, telling tales of a drinking and betting culture, never proven but never forgotten. 

His good deeds here, including a player of the season award, are seldom remembered, but the chance to barrack the Londoner is seized on with as much relish as those audiences who wanted blood in the Colosseum. 

Merson has been back before to suffer the slings and arrows, but Saturday’s return seemed to provoke a greater degree of venom from the seats. Maybe Boro fans need a diversion from their own team’s failings. Still looking for a first home league win, cracks are showing among a loyal fan base: this was the lowest attendance at the Riverside this season. They needed a target. 

The Villa manager John Gregory, who knows how his own home crowd can turn on players, has some sympathy for Merson. “I don’t mind it from 3pm onwards, but it’s a bit harsh in the warm-up!” 

Gregory knew his side could and should have put any reward out of Boro’s reach if they had taken just one more of a catalogue of chances. 

Boro’s on-loan goalkeeper Gary Walsh made the mistake that gave Villa a deserved edge, making a hash of a clearance under pressure from Dion Dublin. The striker’s neat pass to the substitute Joachim was converted with a well-angled shot in the 74th minute. 

The Boro manager Bryan Robson believed his side deserved a point for their second-half rally, though he was candid enough to admit a number of his players “lacked confidence” at home. 

His own confidence must be wavering, despite his ranking at No4 in the league’s longest-serving managers list (appointed May 1994), as his expensively assembled team still miss a truly creative talent, like Merson. 

Robson, though, cannot be faulted for trying to find the right blend. His is not so much a rotation system as much as a revolving-door version, with the Argentinian substitute Carlos Marinelli becoming the 26th player he has used in eight games. 

The two managers could not agree on the future of Villa’s longest-serving player, Ugo Ehiogu, either. Rated at £8 million, the defender bought from West Brom for a mere £40,000 sat on the Villa bench unsure where he will be playing next week. 

Gregory insisted: “Nothing’s resolved, the ball’s in Middlesbrough’s court.” Robson reckoned: “It’s up to Villa, we’ve made our final offer.” 

Stalemate again.