Curle hails Magpies spirit

BY foxsports • January 20, 2013

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert was left with mixed emotions after the 2-2 draw at neighbouring West Brom.

The Hawthorns was silenced by a ruthless first half from Lambert's visiting Villans, who went in at half-time two goals to the good courtesy of Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor strikes.

But the Baggies surged back in the second period with Chris Brunt halving the deficit four minutes after the break and, just when it seemed likely Villa would ease their relegation troubles with an away victory, Peter Odemwingie ensured a draw.

Lambert said: "I have a few things going through my head. I thought we were excellent in the first-half. We should have been out of sight, it should have been finished.

"We should have been four up. That would have killed the game. The way we played in the first-half was excellent. In the second half West Brom came out strongly but you expect that. They are the home side.

"It was disappointing not to win the game because it should have been finished in the first half."

On the eye-catching performance of Charles N'Zogbia, the Scot added: "Charles is a real talent, a real, real talent. He goes past people as if they're not there at times. When I took him off, he wasn't injured. He's back from a long lay-off so you have to watch him.

"We have games coming up. We have to protect him."

The hosts failed to shine against a side who had defeated Cameroon 3-2 on aggregate to reach the finals.

Luis Platini had the best chance of the first half of the Group A encounter for the Blue Sharks, who then saw Helton denied after the break by South Africa goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune.

Ryan Mendes had the first shot of the game but the Cape Verde striker fired wide from 20 yards.

Cape Verde goalkeeper Josimar Vozinha then made hard work of a free-kick from Siphiwe Tshabalala.

Platini shot wide when well placed as Cape Verde continued to look for the opening, while Ramos Nhuck fired a free-kick over after Kagisho Dikgacoi had fouled Platini.

Elvis Babanco saw his shot go wide as Cape Verde continued to try their luck, Platini also missing and Dikgacoi off target as chances came at each end.

Cape Verde were awarded a free-kick but Babanco shot straight at keeper Khune, Mendes then shooting wide from close range.

South Africa's Lerato Chabangu came on for Dikgacoi at half-time and was in the action inside five minutes but shot over from close range.

Cape Verde went close with 18 minutes to go as Helton headed Babanco's cross towards goal but Khune got down low to his left to scramble the ball round the post.

In a rare South Africa attack Thulani Serero failed to control the ball with five minutes to go after being put in behind the Cape Verde defence.

South Africa's best chance came in injury time from a Lerato Chabangu corner to the near post - but captain Bongani Khumalo put his free header well over.

Struggling Oldham appeared to have claimed an unlikely point when Matt Smith met an 89th-minute corner and cancelled out Stephen Elliott's earlier header.

But Bailey smashed home in the dying moments of time added on to ensure the Sky Blues took maximum points.

Robins said: "The overriding emotion is one of relief at the end because with just a minute left on the clock we conceded a shocking goal that would have felt like a defeat.

"But we had that bit of energy to get up the field and that bit of quality to pick out James Bailey and for him to pick out the top corner.

"I thought we deserved to win, but the second-half performance wasn't great, having said that, we have created numerous opportunities that we haven't taken and we weren't great in front of goal.

"We have got to thank the stewards and everybody around the place for clearing the snow and allowing us to play and the opportunity to play.

"That was fantastic because it gave us the opportunity to take the three points and it would have been a travesty had we not done."

Harry Maguire put the Blades ahead with just over a minute gone and when Francois Zoko was given his marching orders midway through the second half for dissent there looked like only one winner.

However, the Blades failed to press home their advantage and Alan Judge gave County a much-needed point with a late leveller.

Curle said: "As a football club over the last few days we have all come together to get this game on. The effort of the youth team, even the chairman and my PA were out there on the pitch.

"There are lots of positives to take out of the day. The attitude and application of the players to stick to their task and do that extra bit was first rate."

However, Zoko was very much in the manager's bad books after his ill-discipline left his team-mates a player down for most of the afternoon.

Curle said: "I've never been able to change a referee's decision by something I've verbalised to him. Once they've made the decision you've got to accept it.

"I didn't bother speaking to Francois, I just told him to get out of the changing room as I didn't want to look at him and it will cost him financially."


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