AVFC.co.uk continues its look at the week-by-week efforts of Ron Atkinson's exciting Villa side during the memorable 1992-93 season. Each week we will republish the newspaper articles from that exact time during the campaign. We continue with more goalscoring exploits from Dean Saunders.
Paper: Sunday Mercury
Headline: Smash and grab Villa in title mood
Author: David Davenport
Middlesbrough 2 Aston Villa 3
Aston Villa climbed ever nearer the Premier Division summit after an Ayresome Park cliffhanger.
New-boy Dean Saunders followed up his sensational home debut against Liverpool with two more well-taken goals to pay back another hefty chunk of his £2.3 million transfer fee.
And fellow striker Dalian Atkinson claimed his fifth of the season as the deadly duo staged what was effectively a second-half smash and grab act to end Middlesbrough's unbeaten home record.
It was a game to set the pulse racing, although Villa had to sustain a late burst of home pressure after Andy Peake had put the Teessiders back in with a fighting chance three minutes from time.
Yet there had been little sign of the thriller that was in store as Ron Atkinson's men cleverly played the ball around a greasy surface in the first period to deservedly hold an interval lead.
Young winger Steve Froggatt crossed from the left, and although the ball eluded Atkinson and a couple of defenders, Saunders smartly brought it under control before sending a low left-foot shot inside Ian Ironside's right-hand post.
Froggatt missed a chance to put Villa further ahead on the stroke of half time.
It looked as if that miss may prove costly as Boro stepped up the tempo after the restart.
Nigel Spink pulled off a spectacular mid-air save to keep out Wilkinson's 57th-minute header.
But the home side's 61st-minute equaliser was inevitable.
Robbie Mustoe's cross was thumped goalwards by Wilkinson and although Spink again saved, the ball squirmed away to Bernie Slaven, who drove it home.
At that stage, Villa looked likely to capitulate.
But the 70th minute substitution of Dwight Yorke for Froggatt proved to be the turning point.
As Yorke made his entrance, Villa took a quick free-kick on the half-way line, and Middlesbrough were caught cold as Ray
Houghton threaded a pass for Atkinson to side-step Ironside and tap in a simple goal.
Three minutes later Saunders grabbed his second with almost a carbon-copy of last week's opener against Liverpool.
Garry Parker provided the initial pass, Yorke delivered a low cross and Saunders burst clear of his marker to drive home.
Peake's late effort, which cannoned in off the unlucky Paul McGrath, had the alarm bells ringing again, but Villa held firm to underline their title potential.
Headline: Villa's target
Author: Tony Kell
Ron Atkinson has set a 35-goal target for the Premier League's new deadly duo, Dean Saunders and Dalian Atkinson.
The £4m Aston Villa strike-force has already shared six goals in the past two games, prompting their title odds to be slashed from 50-1 at the start of the season to 5-1.
Record-buy Saunders followed up his two-goal home debut against Liverpool with another brace in Villa's 3-1 win at Middlesbrough on Saturday.
But Atkinson, who also scored in both games, is Villa's leading scorer with five.
"Saunders is the best natural striker I've had since Tony Brown at West Brom," said Big Ron.
"But he's also proving a big help to Dalian, who still has a lot more in his locker.
"He was never fully fit and at his best last season and there's easily another 25 per cent still to come from him.
"I'm looking for them to get us at least 35 goals this season.
"If they managed that, and our three midfield players Garry Parker, Kevin Richardson and Ray Houghton, also deliver the goods we won't be far away."
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