Boro Fans Look Away ... Now!

Last updated : 14 May 2009 By Boro Mad

Schwarzer, Young, Woodgate, Wheater, Pogatetz, O'Neil, Cattermole (Rochemback 53), Boateng, Johnson, Aliadiere (Hutchinson 75), Downing.
Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Sanli, Taylor.

ASTON VILLA: Carson, Mellberg, Knight, Laursen (Davies 84), Bouma, Petrov (Gardner 79), Reo-Coker, Barry, Young, Carew (Maloney 74), Agbonlahor.
Subs Not Used: Taylor, Moore.
Att: 23,900

Scott Carson started the day as public enemy number one at the Riverside Stadium but ended it by serving up an improbable assist as Martin O'Neill's Aston Villa revolution rolled on at the expense of woeful Middlesbrough.
Carson had surely expected the wrath which tumbled down from the home stands after his calamitous England performance in midweek and was plainly nervous early on as he let a Stewart Downing shot slip through his grasp.
But the keeper responded by playing a full part in Villa's third goal when his giant clearance fell for Gabriel Agbonlahor in the Boro box to hold off Jonathan Woodgate and fire home.
O'Neill's men had effectively wrapped up the points 10 minutes earlier, when a dreadful attempted clearance from Lee Cattermole fell invitingly for Olof Mellberg to prod the ball past Mark Schwarzer from eight yards.
The striking problems which have crippled Gareth Southgate's men were plain to see and they could seldom muster a shot on target in tame first half which only came to life when John Carew hit Villa's opener in injury time.
For all Boro's undoubted hopes of putting Carson under more timely pressure, the closest they came was in the eighth minute when Downing's shot from the left squirmed under the keeper's body and flashed just wide of target.
Given that Carson had horribly sliced an innocuous back-pass from Zat Knight seconds after kick-off, the keeper was not in his most confident mood but Boro - now with three goals from seven games - could not capitalise.
Indeed it was Schwarzer who almost made the crucial blunder on the half hour when he fluffed an attempted clearance straight into the path of Carew, who was hustled off his shot by Jonathan Woodgate.
Woodgate then had to deflect a dangerous Ashley Young cross inches over his own bar as Villa threatened to take the initiative in a match which always threatened to turn into a gruelling stalemate.
Their opener duly arrived in first half injury time when Barry delivered a fine cross from the left and Carew swivelled past David Wheater in the box before steering the ball home.
Villa eased further ahead two minutes after the break after Cattermole's howler which soon prompted Southgate to make his first chance. So few are his striking options he was forced to bring on a midfielder, Fabio Rochemback.
Instead Villa responded by going further ahead, Agbonlahor's strength holding off his challenger before his drive to which Schwarzer could only get a flailing hand as it squirmed into the net.
It could have been more for Villa, who counter-attacked with strength and purpose and almost grabbed a fourth four minutes from time when Agbonlahor burst clear and shot past Schwarzer only to hit the base of the post.
In contrast Boro's response to imminent defeat was pitiful. Full-back Gary O'Neil provided what passed for their most potent threat with a couple of shots which flashed narrowly wide from long range.
By the time Downing forced Carson into his first proper save of the afternoon with a low drive from the left of the box which the keeper did well to turn around the post, the home stands had emptied.
Few were left to see Wheater steer a header wide of Carson's left-hand post in injury time as the final act of an afternoon which sees the real prospect of relegation looming for the home side.
In the away section, the Villa fans were jubilant after a week which has seen O'Neill commit his future to their club. However the pressure must surely increase on Southgate.

Saturday 16th May 2009
Bolton v Hull City 15.00
Everton v West Ham 15.00
Man Utd v Arsenal 12.45
Middlesbrough v Aston Villa 15.00
Newcastle v Fulham 15.00
Stoke City v Wigan Athletic 15.00
Tottenham v Man City 15.00
Sunday 17th May 2009
Chelsea v Blackburn 16.00
West Brom v Liverpool 13.30
Monday 18th May 2009
Portsmouth v Sunderland 20.00
Sunday 24th May 2009
Arsenal v Stoke City 16.00
Aston Villa v Newcastle 16.00
Blackburn v West Brom 16.00
Fulham v Everton 16.00
Hull City v Man Utd 16.00
Liverpool v Tottenham 16.00
Man City v Bolton 16.00
Sunderland v Chelsea 16.00
West Ham v Middlesbrough 16.00
Wigan Athletic v Portsmouth 16.00