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Collymore on 2012: Stan's top highlights of the year
Stan Collymore on 2012.
3rd Jan 2013
Collymore on 2012: Stan's top highlights of the year


Villa News & Record columnist Stan Collymore brings you his highlights of 2012.

The former claret and blue ace striker has seen the majority of our games throughout the year in his radio role.

So he's the perfect guy to give his twelve-month assessment.

BEST GAME

For sheer excitement, the 3-2 victory over Wolves at Molineux takes some beating.

Derbies are frequently disappointing affairs in which the action fails to live up to the hype but this one was a cracker.

Villa were good value for their early lead, secured by Darren Bent's penalty after he had been brought down by Christophe Berra but by half-time they trailed 2-1 as Wolves hit back through Michael Kightly and David Edwards.

But Robbie Keane made some fine cameo appearances during his short time on loan at Villa, and his second half display was the best of the lot.

He equalised against his former club early in the second half and later scored the winner with a stunning drive which went in off the bar.

When he was substituted in the closing stages, Robbie was booed by supporters who had once idolised him. Not that Villa were complaining!

BEST PERFORMANCE

The 4-2 Capital One Cup victory at Manchester City gets my vote in this category - although the first hour at home to Manchester United runs it pretty close.

When Andi Weimann scored his second goal against United, the claret and blue faithful were dreaming of a famous victory to end the win-less home run against Sir Alex Ferguson's side which stretches back to 1995.

It all went wrong from that juncture, of course, but the fact that Paul Lambert's men played with such confidence against one of the top sides in world football bodes well for the future.

But back to that cup win at the Etihad Stadium. City were supposedly under-strength that night but the value of their squad still ran to around £200m and Roberto Mancini's men led twice.

Full marks to Villa, then, for hitting back each time before clinching a fourth round place with extra-time goals from Charles N'Zogbia and Gabby Agbonlahor.

Lowton

BEST GOAL

There are a few contenders here, including Robbie Keane's winner at Molineux, Andreas Weimann's goal of the season against Stoke City and Brett Holman's fine shot at QPR.

But my vote goes to Matt Lowton's stunning volley in the 2-0 early-season victory over an in-form Swansea City outfit at Villa Park.

It was a goal fit for any match.

Positioned on the left-hand side of the penalty area, Lowton controlled the ball superbly on his chest and then let fly with a left-foot volley which any striker would have been proud of.

As the match report in the Villa News & Record pointed out, it wasn't bad for a right-back!

BEST SAVE

Both Shay Given and Brad Guzan have made some incredible saves throughout the past 12 months.

In my book, though, the most spectacular - and arguably most crucial - was the one Brad made near the end of the game against Newcastle United at St James' Park.

It was the first time the American keeper had started a Barclays Premier League match on merit, rather than because someone else was injured, and he justified his selection with a fine performance which included a save with his legs from Papas Cisse.

Even the athletic Guzan could do nothing to prevent Hatem Ben Arfa's 59th-minute equaliser, which cancelled out Ciaran Clark's first-half header.

But right at the end of stoppage time he made a fantastic leap to claw away a Yohan Cabaye free-kick which was destined for the top corner - and Villa headed home with a thorough-deserved point.

Everyone talks about the importance of strikers but Brad proved that day that goalkeepers have an equally crucial role.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

There are a number of contenders for this and right now there's no doubt that Christian Benteke is the man capturing the imagination of the claret and blue faithful.

But looking back over the whole year, Ciaran Clark is my choice.

He is a player who has matured immensely over the past couple of seasons.

And let's not forget that it was his goal against Tottenham in the final home match last May which ensured Villa remained in the Barclays Premier League.

Petrov

MOST INSPIRING MOMENT

The phrase 12th Man is frequently overused but it is perfectly appropriate for Villa supporters when they salute Stiliyan Petrov in the 19th minute of every game.

The news last March that the club captain had been diagnosed with acute leukaemia was devastating but the fans have shown he is not alone his fight to overcome the disease.

Our No.19 is celebrated in every game - by opposition supporters as well as Villa's - and that displays that he is very much in our hearts and minds.

The one-minute applause is an ongoing tribute which will has already become part of Villa folklore.

Pick up match tickets for the FA Cup clash with Ipswich.

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