Scottish Premier League

Maybury accepts his role

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Sun, 10 Feb 2013 14:27:00

Christian Benteke and Charles N'Zogbia combined to lift Aston Villa out of the Premier League relegation zone with a priceless 2-1 victory over West Ham at Villa Park.

Benteke showed no sign of nerves as he rolled home from the penalty spot to break the deadlock with 16 minutes to go after N'Zogbia had been tripped in the area by Mark Noble.

And the former Wigan and Newcastle man then stepped up to curl home an outstanding free-kick to double the advantage for Paul Lambert's men four minutes later.

There was a nervy finish in store for the home supporters as Ashley Westwood could only loop a header from Joe Cole's dangerous curling cross over Brad Guzan and into his own net with three minutes to go.

And in the last of four added minutes, the Villa goalkeeper was called into action to make a crucial save, blocking a close range shot from Kevin Nolan at his near post.

The victory sees Villa climb to 17th in the Premier League table, pushing Reading down into the bottom three but only one point adrift of the Midlands side.

The first half at Villa Park was an instantly forgettable affair, with the only incident of note coming in the opening exchanges, when Andreas Weimann produced one of the misses of the season in only the second minute.

Benteke fired in a shot from range, which Jussi Jaaskelainen failed to deal with, and it looked as though all Weimann had to do was roll the ball into the gaping goal, but he somehow fired wide of the target to widespread disbelief.

That incident seemed to shake the confidence of the young Austrian, and it was no surprise when he was replaced as part of a double change in the 63rd minute, with Darren Bent joining the fray.

The England international has struggled for opportunities this season, but he was immediately into the action, although perhaps not as he had expected, clearing off the line from Andy Carroll following Matt Taylor's corner.

Sam Allardyce's side looked to hit Carroll whenever possible, but the England international was well marshalled in the main by Ciaran Clark, who also produced two crucial clearances from under his own bar in a much-improved second half.

All the real drama was reserved for the closing 16 minutes, with Benteke and N'Zogbia putting the Holte End in full voice despite the dramatic conclusion, with Villa recording their first Premier League victory since the 3-1 win away to Liverpool on 15 December.

Midfielder Flood was again instrumental as new boss Jackie McNamara made it back-to-back victories with a 3-1 Premier League win over Hearts at Tannadice on Saturday.

Flood notched a quality second goal in the second half as new manager McNamara watched his side move into sixth place in the SPL thanks to Johnny Russell's second-minute strike and substitute Michael Gardyne's 89th-minute clincher.

Flood has been given a new lease of life since McNamara replaced departed boss Peter Houston recently, and Tangerines team-mate Mackay-Steven was quick to sing his praises after beating the Jambos.

He said: "Willo has been outstanding for us in the past two games.

"His goal was quality and his overall performance was of the highest order.

"Willo is big player for the club.

"He's the one who really gets everyone up for training every day and urges them on.

"Willo expects the highest standards from those around him and he's always there to do his bit as well.

"He looks as though he's really enjoying his football right now and long may that continue, along with the rest of the lads."

Mackay-Steven was on the receiving end of a controversial first-half challenge from Hearts midfielder Ryan Stevenson which earned the Tynecastle man a red card from referee Willie Collum.

Mackay-Steven felt it was harsh but vowed not to change his attacking ways.

He said: "I won't be changing my ways.

"That's how I play. I like taking players on as that's a big part of my game.

"Sometimes these kind of challenges happen but it doesn't put me off.

"We're on a decent wee run just now and just want to try to continue if for as long as possible.

"We've got a big game coming up away to Celtic next and we can hopefully go there with some confidence."

Meanwhile, Hearts manager John McGlynn may appeal Stevenson's sending-off once he watches it over again on television.

He said: "I'll have to see it again. When I do that then we can maybe look at appealing it.

"The people who've seen it thought it was a bit harsh but personally I would need to watch it for myself."

McNamara saluted his players for their second victory on the bounce since taking charge.

He said: "I've got to praise the lads for their effort and commitment.

"They started the game really well and my only disappointment was that we lost a goal."

The 34-year-old initially found it frustrating when he felt he was becoming a stand-in for others at St Johnstone but he now realises Hibs boss Pat Fenlon has to pick what he feels is the best team available.

Maybury has been an integral part of the Hibs team since signing just before the start of the season, making 18 starts and four substitute appearances.

But if Tim Clancy recovers from a hamstring problem before Monday night's Premier League clash against St Johnstone, Maybury appreciates he might lose his place despite helping the team to a Scottish Cup win over Aberdeen last weekend.

The Irishman said: "I understand there are going to be stages where I am in and out of the team.

"I knew that before I came here so it's just about making sure you are doing the right things in training so that, when you come in, you grasp that opportunity and help the team out.

"When it first happened in the last couple of years, it was frustrating and you are banging down the manager's door.

"But I think I understand the role now, I'm quite comfortable with it and I accept that I'll not play every week.

"Before I came here I was used more to fill in a hole. It was right-back, left-back and 'have you ever played in midfield?' sort of thing. Then 'can you play centre-back?' And I would stand on my tiptoes and say 'yes, of course'.

"There is no excuse with being in and out of the team. Obviously you still get frustrated if you have played well and think you deserve to be in.

"But I understand when he (Fenlon) picks a team he is picking the best team that will hopefully win the game. So I have adjusted to it over the last couple of years."

Maybury has not lost any of his enthusiasm for the game in the latter years of his playing career. In fact, the opposite is the case as he is throwing himself into the coaching side of the game.

"I love training," the former Hearts and Leicester player said. "I don't know anything different. I still get nervous before games. It's all I know, it's all I want to do.

"I am doing my coaching badges and am becoming obsessed with that side of it. I am watching all sorts of bizarre clips and reading articles and just trying to look and listen and learn and see what I can pick up.

"I start my A licence in the summer and help out when I can with the under-20s here and I really enjoy that.

"I recently spent a couple of days down watching Cardiff play. I am becoming obsessed with it and asking lots of questions, but I want to play as long as I can because there's nothing quite like it.

"I knew a long time ago it was something I wanted to do. You think you have plenty of time but it creeps up on you.

"It helps a little bit with your game, how you can affect others rather than just thinking about your own game."

Hibs are looking for their third win over St Johnstone this season but they are only one point ahead of the Perth side in the SPL and Maybury expects a tight affair against his former club.

"The two times we have played them already, they can probably say they feel a bit aggrieved we have won them both," he said.

"There was nothing in the games but somehow we have managed to come out on top both times.

"We know it's going to be tight and it could be about who gets the first goal or takes their chance."

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