Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: Aston Villa 0 Sunderland 1

There were empty seats at the beginning, and Villa Park was even more bare with ten minutes to go. The Aston Villa supporters have seen enough.

Gerard Houllier can claim ill-fortune, but ineptitude would be closer to the truth as his side dropped into the relegation zone, Phil Bardsley’s 80th minute goal knocking the stuffing out of them.

Yet it was Emile Heskey’s miss from four yards, and subsequent red card, which Houllier will have lost sleep over last night.

Heskey is a curious beast, a supreme talent in flicking from the sublime to the ridiculous, a transformation which more often than not happens in front of goal.

He began at his trouble-making best, an ursine charge towards the box in the sixth minute leaving Kieran Richardson in all sorts of trouble, but you had to wonder what would have happened had Heskey found his way through.

The 32 year-old has an almost unique capacity for clangers in front of the posts, as he demonstrated admirably when Stewart Downing beat Zenden and squirted a low pass into the six yard box.

Surely, Heskey just had to make a connection. He managed that, but contrived to hit the crossbar, from four yards, a miss which brought to mind Ronny Rosenthal’s howler for Liverpool here back in 1992.

Rosenthal, who dinked his shot onto the crossbar after rounding Nigel Spink, ended up seeing the funny side. “I always have jokes with people about this, it’s always a chance to laugh,” he said.

Heskey might take some time to see it that way, judging by his grumpy shake of the head an admission of his incompetence.

That he had missed a remarkably similar opportunity against Sunderland in October, a match which Sunderland also won 1-0, would not have helped his mood, and when he was brought down under a heavy tackle the striker responded by shoving Jordan Henderson in the face. Peter Walton produced a red, Heskey departing to a standing ovation.

It was more than Houllier could expect to receive, when a loose ball spilled from the Villa area with ten minutes remaining and Bardsley popped up to smoke a shot from 30 yards into the bottom left corner.

“You’ll get sacked in the morning,” resounded around Villa Park as first the Holte End, then the entire stadium, let Houllier know their thoughts. He won’t, but time is running out to turn things around.

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