Flashback 1992-93: Comic capers as Villa see off Chelsea
Paper: Sunday Express
Chelsea were the fall guys as Aston Villa went two points clear of Manchester United at the top of the Premier League.
They are not quite the music hall joke they used to be but it was real knockabout stuff that gave Villa the only goal of an untidy game.
There seemed little danger when Dalian Atkinson, back in the Villa side after an absence of eight matches, flicked on a clearance from goalkeeper Mark Bosnich.
But Frank Sinclair and Mal Donaghy inexplicably collided as they went to clear, leaving Ray Houghton to run through unchallenged and beat Kevin Hitchcock with ease.
So Villa headed happily back up the M1 having eased the memory of two expensive away-days in London which had seen them knocked out of the FA Cup by Wimbledon and beaten in the Premier League by Crystal Palace.
They had given nothing away this time and it was Chelsea who felt they had been mugged after their twelfth game without a win, which must put manager Ian Porterfield's future in doubt.
Paper: Sunday Mercury
Aston Villa finally survived a close shave in London - thanks to Ray 'Razor' Houghton.
The former Liverpool man cracked only his second goal since joining the club at the end of the summer to put Ron Atkinson's rock-solid Villans back to the top of the Premier League.
After losing out in frantic scrambles against Wimbledon and Crystal Palace in the previous ten days, Villa were given another tough test but this time they came out on top for only their second win in six league games.
They had some great second half chances but were unable to finish Chelsea off and had to cling on to their first half strike - straight out of Denis Norden "It'll Be Alright On The Night" book of defending.
Mark Bosnich's long clearance skimmed off the head of Dalian Atkinson and with no pressure, Frank Sinclair and Dennis Wise somehow managed to collide leaving the ball to Houghton.
The player - nicknamed Razor by his team-mates - had a free run on Kevin Hitchcock's goal and slammed the ball past the helpless keeper.
Paper: Independent on Sunday
In a game that is unlikely to find its way on to the shelves of the Video Classics library, Aston Villa returned to the top of the league after Ray Houghton put away one of the very few chances that came their way.
Chelsea, without one win in twelve games, can consider themselves unlucky, having shown far greater purpose and invention going forward then the pretenders to the Premier League throne.
While their principal rivals concentrate their attention on the FA Cup, Villa's own exit from the competition may yet prove to be the best thing to happen to them all season.
Defeat by Wimbledon is never good for any side's confidence but while Manchester United and Ipswich keep one eye on the cup and the other on the league - and Norwich's challenge falters - Villa have been afforded the luxury of focusing their attention solely on the Championship.
Less encouraging for Ron Atkinson was the unconvincing manner in which they achieved the victory.
At times they were straining desperately to withstand Chelsea's unrewarded pressure and, following the midweek defeat to lowly Crystal Palace, Atkinson will have to invoke all his inspirational qualities if his team are to sustain a serious title challenge.
Villa's good luck was neatly epitomised by the fortunate nature of their goal.
It was not so much created by them as for them.
Mark Bosnich's long goalkick was flicked on by Dalian Atkinson making his much awaited return to fitness.
What followed contained more Vaudeville than vintage as Mal Donachy and Frank Sinclair crashed into each other and sprawled to the ground, leaving Houghton an open approach into the area and an easy shot past Kevin Hitchcock for his third goal of the season.
Until then it was more Chelsea who had looked like making the breakthrough.
Paper: Daily Telegraph
Aston Villa's ascent to the summit was almost guaranteed - they would probably have won even if they fielded a side of directors' wives, peanut sellers and dustbins.
This is not being churlish to Chelsea, who played with frisky ambition and scampering fervour, but their season has reached a point where every step and decision seems to lead to a blind alley.
Nothing is going right for them.
In ten weeks, they have slipped from fourth to no man's land. They have gleaned just six points and six goals from eleven games. The ground is opening beneath them.
The one goal of a muddled game merely emphasised Chelsea's plight. It was a compound of comedy and opportunism.
Mark Bosnich, the Villa goalkeeper, cleared lengthily in the 21st minute and Dalian Atkinson nodded the ball into an area marshalled by Chelsea defenders Frank Sinclair and Mal Donachy.
They converged, collided and toppled - and Ray Houghton, who had been minding his own business a few yards away, was left with a clear road to goal.
He accepted the gift gratefully.
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