Saturday 17 September 2011 3pm

Aston Villa 1
Newcastle United 1 (Best 57)

“But if I can get Cabaye on the ball . . . you’d pay good money just to watch him. He was beautiful today, some of the things he did. He deserved a goal and it was ironic it was Shay Given – a Newcastle stalwart – who kept him out”. Alan Pardew

Our last Villa goal was by Owen (remember him) in a run of at least 4 defeats so I doubt if most of the very rich (£43 to get in) travelling fans were expecting this to be a real cracker.

Cabaye seems to improve with each match and his early effort looked to have Given beaten only for it to scrape past the post so it was a bit of a disappointment when the ball fall very well for Agbonlahor after a challenge with Colo and he fired the ball below Krul from about 6 yards. They followed this with a great effort off Bannan and a sitter from Bent before we really got back into the match.

We had loads of room down our left wing and in midfield as they fell back (manager’s tactics?) and Given saved fromTaylorand was relieved to see one or two more efforts fly wide. The good thing was we were trying to play the ball around and the midfield two were looking more and more comfortable as a pairing.

They had one chance in the 2nd half when Agbonlahor shot wide but from that time, we controlled everything about the match. Cabaye crashed one against the bar with Given beaten and when a cross from Tiote found Best he hit the rebound off the stranded Given and celebrated long and hard in front of us.

We really pushed on and Given was forced to make fine saves off Cabaye (the second was excellent) as they barely got out of their half in the last 30 minutes. A superb pass from Marveaux to Cabaye in the final minute was our last chance but he was unable to get a shot on target from a tight angle.

Loads of garbage has been written about the team spirit from last year but on this display it looked as though we were watching a side with everybody pulling in the right direction – they may not all be brilliant, or on top form, but nobody hid and we even saw some occasional flashes off Ba and Obertan (but not enough).

Aston Villa: Shay Given, Alan Hutton, James Collins, Richard Dunne, Stephen Warnock, Barry Bannan (Marc Albrighton 68), Stiliyan Petrov (Stephen Ireland 68), Fabian Delph, Charles N’Zogbia, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Darren Bent (Nathan Delfouneso 86).
Subs not used: Brad Guzan, Chris Herd, Shane Lowry, Gary Gardner.

Newcastle United: Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Ryan Taylor, Gabriel Obertan, Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez (Sammy Ameobi 85), Leon Best (Shola Ameobi 68), Demba Ba (Sylvain Marveaux 80).
Subs not used: Rob Elliot, James Perch, Danny Guthrie, Peter Lovenkrands.

Referee: Neil Swarbrick

Attendance: 34,248