The first half saw Latics more than cope with everything that Villa had, Barry was trying to boss the show but didn’t really make that much of an impact as our defence, despite Scharner’s best efforts to screw up, was quite solid.
22 minutes in though, Bramble slid in on Agbonlahor who duly obliged by falling to the ground and the referee pointed to the spot even though the Latics defender looked as though he won the ball. Barry then slotted the penalty past a very unlucky Kirkland, who guessed the right way but was beaten by the power.
Before this though our midfield were getting the better of the chances and we could have gone ahead on numerous occasions. Kapo’s 10 yard shot was the possibly the biggest howler of the half when after Friedal saved magnificently from a low drive by Palacios, he managed to blaze it over the bar with no-one in the Villa goal.
Kapo had earlier skied another shot over the bar when he really should have done better, Heskey forced Friedal to save form a corner and then the ball was cleared off the line when an advancing Bramble was nearly in.
Zaki was struggling in the swirling wind and driving cold rain, but he had a good shout for a penalty when he looked to have been sythed down in the box, but referee (unsurprisingly after all his previous decisions seemed to go the way of Villa) waved it away.
Latics started the second half off in the same vein, with Jason Koumas coming on as a half time substitute for the ineffective (and woeful shooter) Olivier Kapo. The Wesh ace injected a bit of urgency in the play but still we couldn’t find a way through.
To their credit Laursson had Heskey in his pocket and the rest of the Villa back line held true. Zaki just didn’t get into it at all and it was the midfield again that was making the plays. He pulled another fine save from Friedal which gave Latics another corner, from which Scharner headed narrowly over the bar.
De Ridder was having a better game than usual, but when he was needed to keep a cool head he shot into the side netting from just 6 yards. Heskey had another shot go just wide as did the quiet Zaki.
But there was a 20 minute spell that killed off Latics day when the impressive Agbonlahor scored Villas second form two yards after John Carew had flicked on a free header. The England Cap hopeful also set up Carew for the third just 6 minutes later.
Steve Sidwell was brought on in the 84th minute and he showed his talent by dispatching a cracking shot from 20yards past the helpless Chris Kirkland.
Latics knew this wasn’t their day but bad defending and the few odd decisions that didn’t seem to go our way early on didn’t help much. Four goals definitely wasn’t a fair reflection of this game and looking at some of the decisions from the officials over the last couple of games, it further proves that they need help.
Latics will hopefully treat this scoreline as the kick up the arse they undoubtedly need as they go into two crucial away games against Fulham and managerless Portsmouth. Zaki was one that will have been brought back down to earth after all the contract hype over the last week. But a much better defensive and attacking performance will be needed if we are to avoid the situation we had last season.
Report by Jason Taylor