Aston Villa 2 Fulham 0

Last updated : 30 August 2009 By Footymad Previewer
The Londoners never recovered from a third-minute own goal from John Paintsil, but it was not until the 59th minute that Villa sealed the game with a fine solo effort from Gabby Agbonlahor for his first goal of the season.

Villa's much needed win made up for the huge disappointment of their Europa League defeat against Rapid Vienna when they went out on the away goals rule.

The win over Fulham pushed Villa back up the table, but manager Martin O'Neill still appears to be uncertain about his best line-up.

A player who deserves credit for his performance was Villa's left back Nicky Shorey.

He has been linked with a possible move before the transfer deadline but turned in a top-class performance when he often provided excellent service for Ashley Young.

In the absence of Curtis Davies with an injured shoulder, Villa drafted in 19 year-old England youth international Ciaran Clark for his debut, while Fulham gave newcomer Jonathan Greening from West Bromwich his first outing in the absence of Danny Murphy.

There was not a starting place for either Emile Heskey or John Carew and the two internationals had to be content with a place on the bench with Villa playing a 4-5-1 formation.

Fulham's problems began in the third minute when skipper Aaron Hughes pushed the ball back to his goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who sliced his intended clearance for a corner.

Young put across his corner and Paintsil, challenged by Agbonlahor, conceded an own goal when he headed into his own net to give Villa an immediate fillip.

Fulham, without a win at Villa Park in the top-flight since 1966, took a long time to settle and had to withstand a lot of pressure.

Erik Nevland worked hard but Villa were well on top and gave the Londoners little scope to shine.

Surprisingly Fulham imposed little pressure on Clark, who was given an easy Premier League debut.

Newcomers Damien Duff and Greening were unable to inject any fresh power into the Fulham side which failed to test Brad Friedel with a single attempt on goal.

Villa settled the game 14 minutes into the second half when Agbonlahor scored a spectacular second goal with a 25-yard left-footed shot past Schwarzer after being set-up by James Milner.

Despite the introduction of Carew for Villa and Eddie Johnson for Fulham, the game petered out as the tempo became increasingly slower.