The build-up to the game between Queens Park Rangers and Aston Villa was the tale of two discontented right-backs who had made transfer deadline switches to the two sides in action.
Former Villa defender Luke Young had spoken earlier in the week about his experience in the Midlands being one of the worst of his career and the 32-year-old was happy to make the switch to the newly promoted Londoners. Villa’s new signing Alan Hutton, meanwhile, slated his former club Tottenham Hotspur, in particular manager Harry Redknapp, and revealed that White Hart Lane was an unhappy place for the Scottish international.
Young dealt admirably with the tricky Villa wide men of Charles N’Zogbia and Barry Bannan and will be pleased with his performance against his former club. Villa’s fans had become increasingly unhappy with the efforts of their team in the recent weeks and they did not start too brightly.
McLeish said in his post-match interview that he gave his players a few home truths following their first-half performance and the Villa players improved after the break, a testament to the effect of the manager’s words during the interval.
Scottish midfielder Bannan stepped up to side foot a controversial penalty past Paddy Kenny, and the Bodymoor Heath graduate should be pleased with his all-round performance. Bannan has been part of the Villa setup since the age of 14 and in a recent interview, the 21-year-old spoke of the homesickness he first suffered when he moved from Glasgow to Birmingham. The Scottish international has now blossomed into his role at Villa Park and has been one of the bright sparks of Villa’s season so far, and Bannan luckily evaded injury following a challenge by Traore which earned the left-back a red card in the dying embers of the game.
The penalty converted by Bannan falls in the category of lucky awards, but the Villa luck ran out as QPR snatched a late equaliser in fortuitous, although deserved, circumstances. Industrious work from forward Heidar Helguson saw him deliver a cross, which Villa defender Stephen Warnock could only clear onto Richard Dunne and into the back of his own net past the helpless Shay Given. Dunne has now scored nine Premier League own goals in his career and unluckily gifted QPR the point.
Villa end the day in eighth position and will be happy that they have preserved their unbeaten start to the Premier League season. Their second-half performance showed much improvement, but McLeish will be hopeful that there is more to come from his players and they can start to get some wins on the board following a run of four successive draws.
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