SkyBet Championship: Aston Villa hit back to deny Newcastle

Substitute Aaron Tshibola headed a late leveller for Aston Villa as a profligate Newcastle drew for the first time in the Championship this season.

  •  Tshibola’s late header cancels out Elphick own goal
  •  Two former Premier League sides produce all-action affair
  •  Fourth successive draw for Villa
  •  Newcastle drop points for third time in league this term
Elation: Villa celebrated wildly after 21-year-old Tshibola picked the perfect time to pop up with his first career goal in front of the Holte End (Picture from Sky Sports)

AARON Tshibola’s late equaliser earned Aston Villa a morale-boosting point as Newcastle United were left to rue a host of missed opportunities at Villa Park.

The substitute headed in his first Villa goal from a Jordan Ayew corner two minutes from time.

In a pulsating clash between two sides relegated from the Premier League last season, Newcastle were in complete control for long periods and looked set for a seventh win in nine league games as Villa captain Tommy Elphick turned DeAndre Yedlin’s cross into his own net in the first half.

But Mohamed Diame and Dwight Gayle passed up crucial chances for the visitors before Villa rallied late on and could have won it themselves.

Rafael Benitez’s side, considered favourites by many to win the title this term, remain fifth after their first league draw of the season – five points adrift of leaders Norwich, who they welcome to St James’ Park on Wednesday night.

Although their winless run extends to six games, Villa – without the injured Ross McCormack and ill-disciplined Jack Grealish – will be encouraged by their improved second-half display as they moved on to nine points from as many league matches this term.

For the first time in the second-tier, two Champions League winning managers went head-to-head – and Villa boss Roberto di Matteo will undoubtedly be the happier after seeing his side put under severe pressure in the first period.

Jordan Ayew
Off target: The Nigerian has yet to score from 27 efforts at goal in the Championship this season (Picture from Sky Sports)

Villa – who handed a first start to Albert Adomah – had started relatively well, with the former Middlesbrough winger releasing Jonathan Kodija down the right in the opening stages.

But the £15m summer buy from Bristol City cut inside unnecessarily, which allowed former Villa defender Ciaran Clark to get a block in.

Before long, the Magpies – who responded to last weekend’s 2-0 home defeat against Wolves by beating the same opponents in the EFL Cup in midweek – seized command and ran Villa’s three-man backline ragged with their movement in the final third.

This was emphasised when Elphick, wary of Gayle lurking with intent behind him, diverted Yedlin’s centre beyond Pierluigi Gollini just before the half-hour mark.

The ex-Bournemouth centre-back almost gifted Newcastle a second straight away when dwelling on the ball but Gayle could not finish one-on-one against Gollini.

With the hosts all over the place, Nathan Baker then had to make a crucial intervention when a menacing Gayle bore down on goal before Diame fired waywardly over after Gollini blocked a Matt Ritchie effort.

The only edgy moment for a dominant Newcastle in the first period came when Jonjo Shelvey was fortunate to receive only a yellow card for leaping into a challenge on Ashley Westwood in a reckless manner.

Clearly concerned by the visitors’ superiority, di Matteo threw on former Reading midfielder Tshibola in place of Baker and switched to a back four at the break.

There wasn’t an immediate change in pattern, as Newcastle pushed for the insurance goal to kill off the hosts.

The influential Shelvey tested Gollini from range before intelligently setting up Diame, but the former West Ham and Hull midfielder couldn’t open his Magpies account, slicing a glorious chance wide from 12 yards.

DeAndre Yedlin prepares throw-in
Concern: DeAndre Yedlin may have given Rafa Benitez another problem after coming off with an injury in the second half (Picture from Sky Sports)

The visitors were given a warning about complacency when Mile Jedinak was left free to head in Ayew’s pinpoint free-kick but was flagged offside.

Villa, who sent on top scorer Rudy Gestede for Adomah, had firmly sprung into life and Ayew came within inches of a spectacular goal when his rasping right-footer from 20 yards clipped the post.

But the forward played his part when the resurgent hosts levelled up, as his well-flighted corner picked out Tshibola and the summer signing – who was correctly booked for diving minutes earlier – escaped Isaac Hayden’s attentions to head home from two yards.

Having been on top for so long, it was Newcastle hanging on for dear life during six minutes of stoppage time, as an impassive Benitez was left to reflect on his side’s failure to add to their slender advantage.

However, it could be a significant turning point for Villa, who themselves have struggled to see out positive results this term, after fighting back from the abyss to secure a draw they feel was merited in the end.

Aston Villa 1 (Tshibola 88′)
Newcastle United 1 (Elphick 28′ og)


Aston Villa XI
One alteration: Jack Grealish’s place was taken by Albert Adomah in the solitary change from last Saturday’s goalless draw at Ipswich (Picture from Sky Sports)

Substitutes:  Tshibola (on for Baker 45′), Gestede (on for Adomah 63′) and Hepburn-Murphy (on for Westwood 86′).
Not used:  Bunn (GK), Hutton, Richards, Cissokho.
Booked:  Chester (41′), Baker (44′), Tshibola (79′)


Newcastle United XI
Three changes: Yedlin made his first league start in place of the suspended Vurnon Anita, while Clark and Gouffran were restored at Chancel Mbemba and Ayoze Perez’s expense (Picture from Sky Sports)

Substitutes:  Tiote (on for Yedlin 75′) and Mitrovic (on for Gayle 80′).
Not used:  Darlow (GK), Hanley, Lazaar, Atsu, Perez.
Booked:  Shelvey (27′)


Chris Kavanagh with Nathan Baker
In control: Kavanagh kept the game flowing and didn’t rush to his pocket – he correctly booked Tshibola for diving but was lenient with Shelvey’s first-half challenge (Picture from Sky Sports)

Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Manchester) – 8/10
Assistant referees: Nick Greenhalgh & James Mainwaring (Lancashire)
Fourth official: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire)

Attendance: 32,062


Positive reaction: The former Chelsea and West Brom boss saw his side salvage a point to maintain their unbeaten home record so far this term (Picture from Sky Sports)

Aston Villa manager Roberto di Matteo:

“I said [at half-time] lets just put them under pressure and lets ask some questions. We changed the formation a little bit as well and managed to get more of a hold of the ball and created some real problems for Newcastle. I really thought that towards the end we would have the opportunity to win the game as well. We had plenty of chances and we got into very good positions. Just the last pass was missing, but there was somebody at the end of the last cross.”

Frustrated: Benitez will wonder how his side were unable to turn their first-half dominance into another victory (Picture from Sky Sports)

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez:

“Di Matteo will have another vision of the second-half, but the first-half we were so dominant that we could finish the game and then we would be sat here talking about another thing. But that is football, you have to take your chances. We had to defend better second-half, but you have to give credit to them. The positives for our team were in the first-half and the negatives were in the second as we allowed them to stay in the game.”

SkyBet Championship: Chris Kavanagh to referee Aston Villa v Newcastle

The Manchester whistler will take charge of his first big game of the season when the two former Premier League sides meet at Villa Park.

Positive signs: Kavanagh is making excellent progress, despite overseeing just 30 Championship games overall in this his third season in the Football League (Picture from Sky Sports)

CHRIS Kavanagh has been confirmed as the referee for Saturday’s crunch SkyBet Championship clash between Aston Villa and Newcastle United.

The Select Group 2 official will take charge at Villa Park for the televised evening kick-off between two sides relegated from the Premier League last season (KO 17:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).

It’s viewed by many as one of the key games of the season so far, with both teams expected to be challenging for automatic promotion.

Kavanagh will be assisted in the west Midlands by two Select Group 2 assistants Nick Greenhalgh and James Mainwaring, both from Lancashire, with Simon Hooper (Wiltshire) acting as fourth official.

Hooper hit the headlines earlier this month, when the referee himself at Villa Park, for sending off Nottingham Forest midfielder Hildeberto Pereira for a second yellow card for celebrating their late equaliser in the 2-2 draw too vociferously.

He also turned down two strong penalty appeals for handball for Newcastle in their 1-0 defeat at Fulham in the first Football League match of the season last month.

On the box: Kavanagh handled eight live TV games last season – six in the Championship, one in League One and one in the FA Cup (Picture from Sky Sports)

Meanwhile, Kavanagh will oversee his 10th game of the season – and sixth in the Championship, with the other four occurring in the EFL Cup.

Unusually, the Manchester-based whistler officiated two first-round matches after standing in for the injured Mark Haywood in Carlisle’s 2-1 win over Port Vale before handling Bristol Rovers’ surprise 1-0 victory against Cardiff two nights later – his only other TV appearance this term.

The 30-year-old, who is being considered for Premier League promotion, was fourth official for Bournemouth’s 1-0 top-flight win over West Brom earlier this month.

But he has been in the middle for Everton’s 4-0 EFL Cup second round victory against Yeovil and, in midweek, put in a solid display when Hull beat fellow top-flight side Stoke 2-1 in the third round.

It’s already been a busy start to the campaign for Lancashire-born Kavanagh, who lives in Ashton-under-Lyne.

This will be his 13th appointment as referee or fourth official of the season and his second trip to Villa Park after being on electronic board duties for their 3-0 win over Rotherham on August 13.

Kavanagh has brandished an average of three yellow cards per game so far but is yet to send off a player, and awarded his first penalty of the campaign last weekend in Norwich’s 2-1 win at Nottingham Forest.

Half of his 36 games came in the Championship last season, during a year in which he proved his ability to earn a place among the 18-strong group of professional officials primarily officiating in the second-tier.

In doing so, he left his day job as Manchester County FA’s Referee Development Manager – a role he had fulfilled for two and a half years.

Establishing his name: Kavanagh, who has been refereeing since 1998, has more than 50 Football League games under his belt (Picture from Sky Sports)

It could be a challenging contest to control for Kavanagh, who was only promoted to the Football League in 2014 but has been to Wembley as fourth official for the 2015 FA Vase Final.

His only other encounters with both sides were in last season’s League Cup – Newcastle’s 1-0 defeat at home to Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa’s 5-3 win after extra time against Notts County, whose angry boss Ricardo Moniz branded him ‘arrogant’ afterwards.

Kavanagh will also be in the Second City next midweek as fourth official for Birmingham’s match with Preston North End at St Andrew’s on Tuesday night.

There will also be a rare and exciting occurrence as two managers who have won the Champions League pit their wits against one another in the Championship – Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez won it with Liverpool in 2005 and Villa’s Roberto di Matteo clinched the trophy at Chelsea in 2o12.

Title favourites Newcastle’s run of five straight league wins was abruptly ended by last Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat by Wolves, while Villa sit 18th with one win, five draws and two losses from eight games so far.


Wigan Athletic v Manchester United - Pre-Season Friendly
Having a laugh: Langford (second right) shares a joke with Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho after their pre-season friendly with Wigan in July (Picture from Getty Images)

Oliver Langford will be in the middle for Friday night’s Lancashire derby between Preston North End and Wigan Athletic at Deepdale (KO 19:45 BST, live on Sky Sports).

The 36-year-old, from the West Midlands, will take charge of his sixth game of the season in all competitions – and fourth in the Championship.

He will be assisted by James Wilson (Cheshire) and Christopher Akers (south Yorkshire), with Stephen Martin (Staffordshire) on fourth official duties.

Select Group 2 referee Langford, who has been in the Football League since 2009, will also handle Brentford against Reading at Griffin Park next Tuesday in the second-tier.

Langford’s only other live TV match this term was on the opening weekend, when he awarded a second-half penalty to QPR in their 3-0 victory over Leeds at Loftus Road.

It was one of four spotkicks he has awarded so far while he has averaged three yellow cards per game but is yet to send a player off.

Langford only encountered Preston twice last term – in their goalless draw at Derby in February and 1-0 defeat at Middlesbrough in April, but was only in charge of Wigan’s 3-2 win at Peterborough in League One a year ago.

You can view a full list of SkyBet Football League match official appointments here.

Linesman Dave Bryan hit by flare at Villa Park

A linesman was struck by a flare during the Premier League game between Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

Dave Bryan raises the flag (Aston Villa v Leicester - 7th Dec 2014)
Experienced: Lincolnshire-based Bryan has officiated at more than 150 Premier League matches during his career (Picture from Sky Sports)

A LINESMAN was struck by a flare during the Premier League game between Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.  

The missile, which unleashed billowing blue smoke, appeared to have been launched from the Doug Ellis stand of Villa Park by a Spurs supporter celebrating Andros Townsend’s goal after 31 minutes.

Assistant referee Dave Bryan was hit in the back of the head and sent stumbling forwards but was able to continue without receiving treatment as play was momentarily brought to a halt.

Bryan told Sky Sports reporter Patrick Davison during the half-time interval that he was “fine and comfortable to carry on”.

West Midlands Police and stewards are believed to have watched CCTV images of the incident and escorted a spectator out of the stadium minutes later.

Police were initially reluctant to confirm whether the removal of the fan was connected to the flare throwing but have since arrested two men aged 25 and 47.

It is the second time such an incident has occured at Villa Park after a 15-year-old boy suffered lung damage from the effects of a smoke bomb being lit during Villa’s 2-2 draw with Wigan in May.

The Football Association have revealed they will begin an investigation into what they describe as ‘an unacceptable situation’.

A spokesman said: “The FA will investigate this matter, which is unacceptable. We will await the match officials’ report and will be speaking to the clubs.

“Such incidents highlight the dangers of pyrotechnics being used in a football stadium.”

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas added after the game: “It is not great to see. It should have been avoided completely.

“It touched the linesman and situations like this don’t have a place in football. I sincerely hope that it doesn’t happen again.”

Spurs won 2-0 thanks to a first-half strike from England winger Townsend and second-half finish from Spanish striker Roberto Soldado.