Curtis Davies silences the West Brom boo boys before the visiting goalkeeper Scott Carson makes a costly error to gift Aston Villa a 2-1 win.
Many unhappy returns for Carson
BIRMINGHAM // West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Scott Carson's untimely blunder just before half-time allowed Aston Villa to see off their Midlands rivals and climb above Manchester United into third place. It was a day of mixed fortunes for players facing their former employers with Carson's error against his old club being counterbalanced by Villa's opener which was scored by former Hawthorns favourite Curtis Davies. James Morrison pulled one back within four minutes of the restart to give the bottom side a chance of landing their first-ever Premier League win over Villa But the home side's resolve held out in a low-key second-half to extend their unbeaten run in the league to nine matches. United, however, look odds on to quickly regain an advantage over Villa as they have three games in hand including their clash with Chelsea at Old Trafford today. Davies's first goal of the season gave Villa the lead midway through the first-half, but it came firmly against the run of play. Villa looked nothing like challengers for a Champions League spot next season as the visitors dominated the opening stages of the game. But the tide turned once the former Baggies defender headed home Gareth Barry's cross off Carson's right-hand post. Paul Robinson needlessly conceded a corner under little pressure at the back post and despite Steve Sidwell twice being denied by desperate goal-line clearances, when the ball was returned to the danger area it was headed home by the diving defender. Ashley Young curled a right-footed effort wide of Carson's goal and Sidwell dragged James Milner's smart centre wide from 20 yards as Villa pressed forward. But it was thanks to Carson's howler that they doubled their lead four minutes before the break. Baggies defenders Carl Hoefkens and Leon Barnett took far too long to close off the space gifted to Agbonlahor on Villa's left as he raced on to a hopeful through ball. The England striker's low effort might even have been drifting wide before Carson, back in front of the fans who used to cheer him, allowed the ball to wriggle under his body and roll agonisingly over the line. Substitute Roman Bednar made his physical presence tell straight away after half-time, heading Jonathan Greening's pass to Morrison who teased Martin Laursen before a slight deflection carried his effort past Brad Friedel. But West Bromwich couldn't make their possession pay dividends. They remain rooted to the foot of the Premiership table with 18 points. Tony Mowbray, the West Bromwich manager, refused to criticise Carson after the match. "He's disappointed, he doesn't need to say anything," he told Sky Sports. "He has done exceptionally well for us. He'll take it on the chin." Davies, meanwhile, revealed that the reason for his muted goal celebration was down to his lingering affection for his former employers. "I've got a lot of respect for the club," said the defender, who was booed mercilessly by Baggies fans every time he touched the ball. "I know they [the fans] hate me, but I've got no intention of letting them hate me even more."