Fulham 1-0 Aston Villa – Match Review

Fulham kept up their formidable home record with victory over Aston Villa at Craven Cottage courtesy of Chris Baird’s goal four minutes from time.

The Cottagers have taken 32 points out of a possible 39 on their own turf but left it late to see off Paul Lambert’s men, who are now teetering just above the relegation zone after their worst start to a season in 26-years.

Villa’s lack of cutting edge in front of goal was frighteningly evident as Mark Schwarzer enjoyed a relatively incident free afternoon in the home goal.

In contrast Martin Jol’s men, spearheaded by Dimitar Berbatov, were a constant threat with the sultry Bulgarian pulling the strings from the first whistle.

Berbatov’s early snap shot forced Villa keeper Brad Guzan into a smart save before denying a close range effort from Kieron Richardson with his legs. At the other end Schwarzer remained untested as until Gabriel Agbonlahor cut inside and brought a save out of the Australian with a fierce deflected effort.

The Villa striker then failed to hit the target with two headers following crosses from Stephen Ireland and Darren Bent. After the break Fulham continued to apply pressure and looked capable of scoring every time they ventured into the Villa half with Berbatov seeing an acrobatic volley sail well over.

As tensions begin to rise Baird popped up at the near post to allay any nerves, tapping home John Arne Riise’s in swinging corner for his third goal in 150 games for the club. Celebrations were almost short lived as Villa mounted an immediate response but Christian Benteke summed up their season in front of goal, failing to even hit the target from six-yards out after being found by Charles N’Zogbia.