Aston Villa beat Crystal Palace 1-0 to end a nightmare 19-game winless streak in the English Premier League on Tuesday with defender Joleon Lescott the hero of the hour.
With empty claret and blue seats visible all around Villa Park, rock bottom Villa went into their 21st game of the season on just eight points having won only once all season, on the opening weekend against Bournemouth. But South Londoners Palace had failed to score a goal in their last three Premier League games, and looked in need of the striker their manager Alan Pardew is aiming to sign in the transfer window.
Lescott’s goal came from a 58th minute corner when Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey dropped his routine header, and watched in horror as it first hit his leg before bobbling between his legs and across the goal-line.
Villa proceeded to defend from deep with 20 minutes to go, eventually parking the bus and simply playing for time.
It was also French coach Remi Garde’s first win in 11 games in the Villa hot-seat since replacing the sacked Tim Sherwood.
Villa captain Micah Richards confronted angry fans after their last game, a 1-1 draw at fourth-tier minnows Wycombe Wanderers.
Garde also spoke to fans and after the game said: “The best apology we could give is to win the next game and give a better performance.”
Palace started the match in lively and confident fashion and Wilfried Zaha hit the post inside the first minute, his crisp shot coming back off the woodwork with Villa keeper Mark Bunn so bamboozled by the winger’s effort he was sat on the ground. But Villa grew in confidence and in the first half Jordan Ayew, full of pace and ambition, shot narrowly wide while Jordan Veretout forced a handy save by Hennessey too.
Villa’s dire form had sent statisticians scanning the record books but the Midlanders are unlikely to be rewriting history for the wrong reasons now.
Derby County went an astonishing 32 matches without a win in the 2007-08 season when they picked up a paltry 11 points.
Villa are now eight points from safety and four behind second-from-bottom Sunderland.