Heskey Clockwatch

Last updated : 28 January 2009 By Tom Vickers
One man stood taller than the rest come full time at Fratton Park on Tuesday, clutching his champagne as a reward for his man of the match performance.

Emile Ivanhoe Heskey had never scored on a debut but a superb half volley broke that duck and gave Villa a vital win against Portsmouth on a rainy night in the south of England. The much maligned centre forward will have made plenty of people sit and take notice of this debut.

To go with his usual hustle and bustle style, Heskey's goal was so clinical that even he must have wondered why it hadn't come this easy to him for the last 14 years.

Here at Villa-MAD we decided to give you a run down of Heskey's eagerly anticipated first appearance in Claret and Blue.

7:27 PM: Sky Sports news get the team sheets and Heskey is starting. Craig Gardner is also in for Steve Sidwell, which suggests Heskey will start in a two man attack alongside Gabby Agbonlahor.

7:45 PM: Martin O'Neill confirms that it's back to a 4-4-2 formation for Villa and that Heskey has shown in training that he is a much improved player from the one he worked with at Leicester.

Even the more unenthusiastic of us decide we'll reserve judgement until we see him in action.

7:53 PM: Dion Dublin explains to the world that the sometime England hitman hasn't scored as many goals as he should have in his career - as if every man, Woman and dog didn't already know it.

8:02 PM: The game gets under way, Heskey finds Agbonlahor from the tip off, looks a bargain already.

Minutes 0-10: Aside from the mesmeric tip off, he hasn't really got into the game. Begins dropping deep to get involved in the play. Comfortably wins his first flick on in the tenth minute.

Minutes 10-20: A Gareth Barry cross is just too high for the centre forward on 11, who appears to be filling in where John Carew left off as the focal point of the Villa attack.

A booming near post header clears a Jermaine Pennant corner showing his defensive abilities which can so often be overlooked.

Minutes 20-30: Seems to be intent on using his head more than his feet.

GOAL - 21 Minutes
Brad Friedel has the ball at his feet on the edge of the Villa box and he lines up a long punt down field, guess where it's heading? You got it - Heskey's forehead.

Soaring above Sol Campbell, Heskey helps the ball towards Agbonlahor and spins on his heels to heads for goal. Agbonlahor shows great power and awareness to hold off Sylvain Distin and nod the ball perfectly into the path of his strike partner. This was his moment. Was it heading into the crowd like so many of his shots do? Not a bit of it.

Heskey kept his head down, got foot over the bouncing ball and arrowed his shot past David James before he could even set himself. Wow, didn't know he was that good! Route one at its finest.

The next few minutes appear to pass him by. He's presumably writing tomorrow's headlines in his head.

Minutes 30-40: On 30, The goal hero wins a ball he had no right to and the move ends in a Barry shot which goes over.

On 34 minutes he powerfully heads clear another corner.

Three minutes later he's at it again, He's quite a useful presence defending our box this lad. At the other end he bullies Sol Campbell out of the way and sets up Milner whose shot is deflected wide. From the resulting spell of pressure he spins and shoots into the side netting from a very tight angle.

Minutes 40-45: A Stiliyan Petrov clearance is deflected into the path of Agbonlahor who, head down, makes a beeline for the Portsmouth goal. Failing to see that Heskey is completely unmarked to his right with a certain tap in Agbonlahor pulls his shot tamely wide.

Heskey wins another header and trudges off for half time happy with his efforts.

Minutes 45-50: Younes Kaboul replaces the "injured" Campbell, Our new number 18 beats him in the air just for good measure too.

Minutes 50-60: Another clearing header, He'll have a sore head tonight but seems to be succeeding in his crusade to break the world record for amount of aerial challenges in one game.

Minutes 60-70: Looks like he's really starting to tire. Not as dominant in the air and when Herman Hreidarsson touches him in the back on the right touch line he's only too happy to go down. He appears glad of the rest.

Sidwell is on for Gardner, so Heskey will now play up top on his own flanked by Agbonlahor and Milner.

Minutes 70-80: Played in on goal but looks laboured and despite getting to the ball before the on rushing James. All he manages to do is fall over again. Wins a free kick on 74, which Barry puts on Curtis Davies's head only for the centre half to head over.

Three minutes later he's back helping out the defence again and maintains possession brilliantly just inside the Villa half. He feeds Agbonlahor, who very nearly sets Sidwell free only for the midfielder's touch to let him down.

Minutes 80-90: His debut ends as he is replaced by Nicky Shorey to a warm reception from the away fans on 82. Watches his new team-mates just about soak up everything the home side can throw at them to claim yet another away victory to go third in the table, level on points with his old club Liverpool.


A debut fans and player alike could have only dreamed about, a sparkling winning goal and a very accomplished all round display as his new club moved a step closer to the Premiership summit.

Heskey looked like an excited child when asked if he was enjoying working with Martin O'Neill again.

The big man has found himself a place in Villa hearts already. Next up is the team we signed him from, Wigan, at Villa Park on Saturday, more of the same please Emile.