Norwich City’s two-card trick fails to come up trumps against Aston Villa

Joleon Lescott rises above Norwich City's Dieumerci Mbokani to put Aston Villa ahead. Picture by Pau

Joleon Lescott rises above Norwich City's Dieumerci Mbokani to put Aston Villa ahead. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil's two-card trick against Aston Villa was scuppered by more charitable defending from Norwich City.

The Canaries arrived at Villa Park looking for a rare Premier League double over the Villans after a composed 2-0 win in Norfolk over Christmas.

City looked assured in the opening skirmishes before Joleon Lescott and Gabby Agbonlahor profited from fresh individual errors either side of the interval.

'The last time we played Aston Villa they had bits of the ball in areas which didn't hurt us. When we got it we went and countered them and hurt them on the break,' said Neil. 'That is why we beat them 2-0 at our place and I thought we had the best chances here in this game because of that. I don't think Aston Villa had a chance up until they scored.

'We had Seb Bassong's header and a couple of ones when we got down the side and should have done better. If we make good decisions in those vital times the chances are we take the lead and it plays into our favour, we can sit in nice and solid and hit them on the counter.

'The game plan was fine, the goal we conceded was a set-piece so it doesn't matter what shape you have – just put your head on the ball, and then we made a critical error right after the start of the second half.'

Neil restored Russell Martin to the defence with Ivo Pinto making way but fellow new signing Timm Klose retained his place alongside Bassong.

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'I trust Russell because Russell had seen it before and I felt Timm, a German-sort of player, a Swiss international has played at the top level and was capable of coming in and doing a job in this game,' said Neil. 'I felt playing them both (Pinto and Klose) on the same side in this particular game was maybe just too much of a risk and that is why I changed things.

'You are continually trying to find that right balance between getting the people who you trust to do it for you on the pitch. You are relying on experienced guys who can make the difference and change the game in your favour.'