Aston Villa 1 Charlton Athletic 0

Last updated : 28 November 2005 By Footymad Previewer
David O'Leary could afford to smile after his Steven Davis inspired Aston Villa side took a positive step away from the relegation battle with their second home win of the season.

Villa, however, made hard work of their task against Charlton, who slumped to their fourth successive defeat as manager Alan Curbishley struggles to motivate his team to find their early season form.

It was only Charlton's second defeat away from home but there was rarely any sign of them changing their recent form.

They operated a negative formation with Darren Bent the only forward. He consequently lacked support and could make little impact against a Villa defence which kept only their third clean sheet of the season.

Davis and Gavin McCann were tireless in their bid to improve Villa's fortunes and it was fitting Davis scored the 69th-minute winner, with his fifth goal of the season.

It was a timely goal for Davis himself as he is due to open contract talks with Villa over the next few days, despite having signed a new four-year contract a few months ago.

With the Addicks showing little ambition the game struggled to come alive, although Bent produced one anxious moment just before half-time when Alexei Smertin put Wilfred Bouma into a panic situation.

The ball bounced back into the path of Bent and with Thomas Sorensen wrong-footed and out of position, the Charlton striker watched his shot slide agonisingly past the far post.

Villa's quick response resulted in Kevin Phillips hooking the ball back into the path of Milan Baros only for the Czech striker's shot to be instinctively kicked clear by Stephan Andersen.

The Charlton keeper was in action seconds later beating out a James Milner shot and then punching away from the on-loan youngster.

Villa continued to launch a series of attacks on the beleaguered Charlton goal but the Londoners held out, often thanks to good fortune.

They were also assisted in no small way by referee Mark Clattenburg, who refused a penalty when Baros was hacked down by Radostin Kishishev.

Charlton appeared to be heading for a point as Villa struggled to penetrate their defence.

The Addicks' goal enjoyed a charmed life and Villa central defender Liam Ridgewell even helped the visitors out by twice blocking shots from his team-mates.

The visitors ran out of luck in the 69th minute when Villa clinched the points.

Baros smashed a shot against the bar from close range and the ball rebounded to Davis on the edge of the area.

The youngster proved more accurate than his more illustrious colleague and smashed it into the far corner, to move to the top of Villa's scoring charts for the campaign.

MAN OF THE MATCH. Steven Davis.

The Northern Ireland international's winning goal was just reward for an industrious display in which he wrested control of midfield from some more experienced opponents.