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21:45 25th January 2011


McCarthy returns with a goal but it's not enough to prevent defeat for Latics

McCarthy 80

Agbonlahor 49
Young 61 (pen)

Report by Paul Chialton

A goal on his return to the first-team looked to have sparked a brave come-back for the home side but in the end James McCarthy's goal counted only as consolation as Aston Villa took the points with a 2-1 win.

Setting himself from 30-yards out the Republic of Ireland international smashed one goal-wards and got a slice of luck when his effort ricocheted off James Collins and past the helpless Brad Friedel.

His first goal of the season marked a much anticipated return to action for McCarthy who looked sharp and strong throughout, coming close to creating the opening goal in the first-half.

Teeing himself up on the edge of the area the midfielder elected to slip-in Hugo Rodallega rather than try his own luck - the Colombian's effort clearing Friedel's bar.

That move capped-off a period of good pressure for Roberto Martinez's team that saw efforts from Rodallega and Charles N'Zogbia narrowly miss the target.

Friedel doing well on the first occasion to block leading scorer Rodallega from the edge of the area, before captain N'Zogbia whipped one narrowly over.

Latics had looked a real threat throughout the opening 45-minutes, with McArthur and Hendry Thomas providing the perfect platform for the attack to pressure the opposition defence.

At the break it could have gone either way, Villa looked dangerous a times without ever really threatening the tremendous Ali Al Habsi.

But within moments of the re-start the visitors were ahead when Ashley Young's corner found the rising Carlos Cuellar who forced a fine save from the Omani 'keeper only for Gabriel Agbonlahor to nod home from close range.

Young then caught-out Thomas on the hour mark, the Honduran fouling Villa's captain inside the area leaving the referee with an easy decision to make.

Up-stepped Young to fire home what proved to be the winner.

McCarthy's goal fired his side up to go in search of a late equaliser, Rodallega and the tireless Franco Di Santo coming close but not close enough.

A disappointing and unlucky night for Latics who now prepare for Bolton Wanderers away in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Al Habsi; Boyce (Stam, 66), Gohouri, S. Caldwell, Figueroa; Thomas (Watson, 66), McArthur; N'Zogbia, McCarthy (McManaman, 85), Rodallega, Di Santo

Subs: Pollitt, Moses, Gomez, Diame

Aston Villa: Friedel; Cuellar, Dunne, Collins, Baker; A. Young (Herd, 88), Reo-Coker, Makoun (Petrov, 57), Downing; Agbonlahor (Albrighton, 77), Bent

Subs: Marshall, Pires, Delfouneso, Heskey

    Data provided by Press Association