Fans’ view: Pool have stopped the rot

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it could have been three points, but our panellists will all settle for one after Pool’s perilous start to 2011. The league’s new corner specialists could now have turned the corner ...

PETER GILLETT

Back in 1962, Aston Villa won 2-1 at Bloomfield Road. It was just before I was born but I cherish the match programme, which I received as a present.

So it was a nice coincidence that Villa were again in town on my birthday on Saturday, but this time the honours were shared.

In a thrilling game, Villa were noticeably quicker to exploit glaring gaps in our defence and Carney especially appeared to be having a torrid time.

Villa’s early goal was not unexpected and Agbonlahor broke from halfway with no defence in sight.

Evatt, after his miracle goal-line clearance at Goodison Park, will not want to watch many replays of this as Agbonlahor slotted the ball between his legs.

Perhaps surprisingly, the sides were level within minutes thanks to Grandin’s fine near-post header.

Kingson had a better game and his save with his feet was outstanding.

Campbell was a constant thorn in Villa’s side but Varney really should have put the game beyond doubt before the visitors went down to ten men.

Ollie’s changes added impetus to our play, with Puncheon again showing promise in flashes and Phillips tormenting Villa’s defence, but the Clarets were happy to sit back and exploit the breaks.

Next up, Spurs and our first glimpse of Kornilenko. I’m looking forward to seeing him and hope he will have a big influence in securing our survival.

JANE STUART

IT is somewhat frustrating that we have a dearth of games over the coming weekends, just as we are beginning to slip down the table a little – which I suppose augurs well for a very exciting April!

I would settle for it all being pretty much cut and dried by then, after a few back-to-back wins!

I was delighted to see Craig Cathcart fit to face Villa. It would be good to get our defence settled again as the recent high goals-against tally has coincided with a lot of chopping and changing at the back for various reasons.

We don’t have enough cover here and Ollie needs to have some top-quality defenders up his sleeve for the summer.

Had we been able to hang on to Kaspars Gorkss and Shaun Barker we could have had a really mean defence now! But we know we can attract good defenders, so let’s get that fortress under way!

I am sure I am not the only one getting more excited than ever at winning corners. Charlie’s inswinger is a truly remarkable weapon and I would almost go so far as to say that being awarded a corner is as good as winning a penalty these days. It is such a joy to watch such marvellous football and such brilliant players at Bloomfield Road. I have never known this before and it is quite, quite wonderful.

It is vital to the cause to keep Bloomfield Road rocking. Bring back the clap banners and balloons (come on sponsors). Let’s make the rest of the season one long carnival and do our bit to ensure we will be celebrating at the end of it.

DAVE WHITE

The rot has finally been stopped and a point against a decent Aston Villa side is most welcome. The game was entertaining and open, with a draw probably the fairest result.

It’s not every week that we will come across a team with as much attacking pace as Villa and at times our defence were tested to the limit, particularly in the first half.

It worries me how often one or both of our full-backs go AWOL, leaving the opposition in acres of room, and this is precisely how Villa’s goal came about.

I suppose this is a consequence of our attacking play, and although we became the first team to concede 50 Premier League goals this season our goal difference is far from appalling. That could be vital come May.

I felt the teams were equal for most of the game and the only save of note was Kingson’s stop with his legs.

While our propensity for scoring from corners this season is a pleasant (and surprising!) statistic, I’d like to see us netting more from open play at home – our last strike at Bloomfield Road that wasn’t from a set-piece was DJ’s header against Liverpool.

Last week I wrote that with a third of the season to go there was no need to panic and I’m still confident we can pick up the points we need to survive, but it would be very nice to get another win soon. Hopefully, we will have a positive, injury-free week before finally having a crack at Spurs.

PHIL CORBETT

It’s been a while but we’ve finally moved off the 28-point mark. There is a case to be made that we could have got all three, but it feels good just to arrest the slide and have something to build on.

I thought we started poorly but their goal woke us up and we started to play. The quick equaliser gave us real momentum.

Houllier claimed the game should have been over before half-time, but he seems to have missed Varney’s two great chances that could easily have put us in front.

By contrast, their best chance came from us dwelling in midfield, Downing breaking into the area and Kingson saving with his legs.

For once, the substitutions enhanced our attacking, with Reid prompting from deep and Phillips running at them and playing some good balls in.

The luck isn’t quite with us at the moment as chances never quite fell right, but we more than matched a decent Villa side who had plenty of pace on the break.

When they were reduced to ten men, you did wonder whether we would get all three points but plenty of endeavour didn’t quite result in the chances we needed. At least we didn’t get caught on the break.

The ten-day gap before the Tottenham game could enable one or two to return to fitness.

Still all to play for and safety is in our own hands. We couldn’t ask for more.

FIONA MARTIN

After the disappointments of recent weeks, Saturday was a relief. To get off 28 points was a priority. What was just as important, though, was that the performance was back to normal. Though we didn’t win, the point really did feel like stopping the rot.

We didn’t create a host of chances but we were solid, determined and threatening going forward. With ten men, Villa just turned themselves into human brick walls and we didn’t find a way through.

Charlie was back to his imperious form, alongside the magnificent Vaughan. Campbell never stopped running, and the defence looked solid enough, though possibly without the attacking flair from the full-backs we’re used to. Grandin’s goal has been a long time coming but may well be the first of many. His injury is a blow.

I’ve been quietly impressed with Puncheon. It can’t be easy coming straight from League One to the Premier League, but he looks to have settled well and fits well with the team.

It’s been a rough few weeks but I feel we’ve turned a corner now. It’s the chance to get some rest, hopefully get some goalkeeping cover in and prepare for Spurs. This boost in confidence gives us some positivity to work with.

MICHAEL MORRISON

WE can count ourselves lucky to have escaped with a draw on Saturday because of the penalty that never was towards the end of the game.

Before that incident, I’d say the draw was a fair result, if a little harsh on us.

We were relatively poor in the first half, despite our equaliser – which is quickly seeing us branded as the ‘set- piece masters’.

I’m not going to bang on about our defensive problems any more – you’ll know all about them if you’ve seen us play this season. There were a couple of instances when we nearly handed Villa a goal, and on a different day they might have punished us.

But similarly, on a different day we could have hit the target with any of the nine chances we missed.

So, all in all, a draw looked decent, especially as it brought to an end our horrific run of form.

But then Baptiste essentially rugby-tackled Young in the box – a penalty if ever I’ve seen one.

I’m not complaining one little bit, mind you, but it was a let-off and the look on Baptiste’s face said everything.

But we’ve broken the hoodoo and will hopefully go on to pick up those valuable points that mean survival to fight another season.

Tom Wilson

I don’t think I’ve ever been so jubilant to claim a point!

I have been superstitious about us losing every fixture since I’ve begun wearing my bobble hat to games, but thankfully I can now wear it with peace of mind.

We started in first gear on Saturday, though ,and I was scared the floodgates would open after Agbonlahor slotted home (and that I’d have to burn my hat that night).

Fortunately, we pulled back an immediate equaliser, which added some urgency into our play.

We were the better side in the second half but failed to make our numerical advantage count following Makoun’s dismissal and they nearly snatched a cruel winner at the death.

With our goalkeeping crisis, bringing in someone on loan is a must before Uncle Harry’s men roll into town.

Kingson looked more assured in goal after being dropped, and likely to keep his place regardless of whether we sign anyone.

Our recently vilified defence put in a good shift to keep Darren Bent quiet before he was replaced.

It was also good to see Marlon Harewood back in the starting line-up as he proved a handful up front.

We’re only two points above the drop zone now – it’s twitchy bum time.

If we can produce the same level of performance against Spurs a result could be on the cards.