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Match report: Wolves 1-2 Villa

The Big Match: Wolves v Villa Gerard Houllier hails Emile Heskey's derby heroics
Match report: Wolves 1-2 Villa

By Dan Harrison

Emile Heskey's wonderful week got even better as he headed Villa to a dramatic late derby day success.

Fresh from turning Wednesday's Carling Cup clash against Blackburn in Villa's favour, the striker scored a magnificent header two minutes from time to ensure his team maintained their superb record in all-West Midlands clashes.

Two games into the Gerard Houllier era and the former England international is already looking to be a star turn for the manager who he enjoyed a successful spell under at Liverpool.

Villa's commitment from the first whistle to the last will have delighted the new boss, who took charge of his first top-flight game since 2004.

Stewart Downing's first-half strike gave the visitors a deserved lead but Wolves battled back and Matt Jarvis' fortuitous effort looked to have secured a share of the spoils for Mick McCarthy's team.

There was nothing to separate these two sides last season and again they served up a pulsating derby encounter.

The momentum of the match changed direction on several occasions. Villa have reigned supreme in the West Midlands in recent years and, in the early stages, there seemed to be no sign of them relinquishing their crown as derby day kings.

Houllier opted to deploy Ashley Young just behind Heskey after they combined to such great effect in the 3-1 success over Blackburn.

But it was the inclusion of Nigel Reo-Coker in midfield that proved key in the first period.

Despite coming up against Karl Henry, one of the most fierce midfield competitors in the top-flight, Reo-Coker set the tone for Villa's steely performance with an all-action display.

It was his persistence that led to Downing's 25th minute strike. The move began with Reo-Coker dispossessing David Jones midway inside the Wolves half.

He found Heskey and, although the striker's run was halted by Jody Craddock, Marc Albrighton gathered the loose ball and crossed for Downing to volley home at the back post. It signalled Villa's overall dominance in the opening 45 minutes.

Albrighton was menacing once again - so much so that McCarthy replaced left-back Stephen Ward before the break after the Irishman had been given the runaround by Villa's wing wonder.

The 20-year-old's teasing delivery in the early stages was just out of Heskey's reach, while Albrighton had a low shot of his own saved by Marcus Hahnemann.

Hahnemann also showed quick reflexes to keep out a James Collins header with his thigh.

In fairness, Wolves had chances of their own in the first period. Dave Edwards should have done better when he raced on to Kevin Doyle's through ball and fired wide from an angle.

There was also a stunning double save from Brad Friedel. The American parried Steven Fletcher's stinging volley before leaping to his feet to block the follow-up from Doyle.

Ashley Young tested Hahnemann twice after the break. On the second occasion the Wolves goalkeeper produced an brilliant one-handed stop to deny the former Watford forward.

But the overall second-half momentum shifted in Wolves' favour. Friedel held an acrobatic effort from Christophe Berra after Wolves threw a succession of crosses into the penalty area.

Substitute Adlene Guedioura found space in the penalty box but his shot across goal was held by the Villa custodian.

However, when Wolves' 61st minute equaliser arrived, there was more than an element of fortune about it.

Jarvis cut inside from the left flank, crossed to the back post and his delivery deceived everyone - including Friedel - on its way in to the far corner of the net.

But it was left to Heskey to settle this derby clash. With two minutes remaining, Ashley Young gathered possession on the edge of the Wolves penalty area.

He found Stephen Warnock and Heskey leapt magnificently to power the full-back's left-wing cross past Hahnemann.

WOLVES: Hahnemann; Foley, Craddock, Berra, Ward; Edwards, Henry, Jones, Jarvis; Fletcher, Doyle. Subs: Elokobi (for Ward, 38), Stearman (for Foley, 73), Ebanks-Blake, Hennessy, Bent, Milijas, Guedioura (for Edwards, 81).

VILLA: Friedel; L Young, Cuellar, Collins, Warnock; Downing, Albrighton, Reo-Coker, Petrov; A Young, Heskey. Subs: Ireland, Sidwell (for Petrov, 86), Agbonlahor (for Albrighton, 66), Davies, Guzan, Bannan, Lichaj.

AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 26th September 2010