Sunderland 1 Aston Villa 0

Last updated : 29 September 2002 By Footymad Previewer

Sunderland had scored twice in seven games and Villa were without a goal in three away defeats.

However, rookie striker David Bellion celebrated his first start of the season by scoring the all-important winner and eased the pressure on Sunderland manager Peter Reid.

The 19-year-old, a free transfer signing from AS Cannes last season, was preferred to Marcus Stewart to partner Tore Andre Flo after a run of three successive defeats and he grabbed his chance with a well-taken 69th minute effort.

Sent clear by Julio Arca, also making his first start of the campaign, he left Ronny Johnsen trailing in his wake and beat the advancing Peter Enckelman.

Villa forced 12 corners but rarely tested goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen while Enckelman also was rarely troubled although Sunderland's spirited performance was a big improvement.

The return of Jody Craddock to the Black Cats defence, the switch to left-back of Kevin Kilbane in the absence of injured skipper Michael Gray and the first appearance of the season of Arca had the desired effect and captured the full support of the crowd.

Enckelman saved well from Claudio Reyna and Bellion in an opening half void of clear-cut chances, Villa responding through the lively fit-again Darius Vassell and a bad miss by Lee Hendrie.

Villa in fact looked the more likely to break the deadlock until they were rocked on their heels by a goal which greatly disappointed Villa manager Graham Taylor.

"We looked as though we were going to win the game until we conceded what was an awful goal from our point of view although to be fair the lad struck the ball well," said Taylor.

"It was very frustrating. I could see the tension around for Peter, but we had our chances and I am very disappointed.

"We seem to win one, lose one and this is our fourth 1-0 away defeat of the season but we had the chance to break that."

Reid expressed his relief after a first home win of the season, a result that eases the pressure after a disappointing start to the campaign.