Aston Villa 1 Middlesbrough 0

Last updated : 29 December 2002 By Footymad Previewer

It was a hard fought win for Villa who, on this occasion, enjoyed some long overdue good fortune much to the relief of manager Graham Taylor.

Middlesbrough finished the stronger side but Villa should have put the game out of the reach of the North-East side in the first half.

But it was a makeshift Villa side which carved out this win which takes them another step out of the relegation area.

Gareth Southgate and Ugo Ehiogu were not given a very friendly welcome on their return to Villa Park and the two England defenders were often under extreme pressure from their former colleagues.

Both were caught out of position when Villa stormed ahead after only 11 minutes when Juan Pablo Angel's cross from the right was flicked home by Dublin for his eighth goal of the season.

The goal took a great deal of pressure off the makeshift Villa side lacking such key players as skipper Steve Staunton, goalkeeper Peter Enckelman and England striker Darius Vassell.

Middlesbrough, who had lost seven of their previous nine away games, were always fighting a losing battle.

They had former Manchester United player Wilson sent off in the 27th minute for a second yellow card following a foul on Gareth Barry.

Villa, however, failed to capitalise upon Middlesbrough's predicament in the first half when they were twice foiled by the brilliance of goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

He plucked a Jlloyd Samuel shot out of the air and then flicked a Barry drive on to the bar.

Inspired by Schwarzer the North East club pounded Villa but stand-in goalkeeper Stefan Postma distinguished himself with several fine saves to earn the Midlands club their vital win.