Benched Bent has nothing to prove to Lambert after scoring Villa’s late derby day leveller


ASTON Villa manager Paul Lambert was insistent that Darren Bent need not prove a point to him after yesterday’s late equalising goal concluded a period in which the striker was both stripped of the club captaincy and dropped.

After West Brom’s Shane Long had given the away side a second-half lead, Bent came off of the bench to score with 10 minutes to play and almost followed his goal with the winner as his Scottish manager maintained that his unexpected omission was strictly tactical.

“I don’t think Darren’s got anything to prove to myself or the outside world, everyone knows he’s a proven goalscorer,” said Lambert, for whom Christian Benteke began as the lone striker. “I just thought for this given game, this was the right team. I need everybody, it’s not just 14 lads or a squad of 18, you need the whole 26 lads to perform.”

The reality remains that Villa’s greater use of possession required only a finisher of Bent’s calibre to provide the elusive end product after the West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster produced two particularly impressive first-half saves to keep the scores level.

Almost immediately after half-time, Republic of Ireland striker Long had a headed goal disallowed for offside but in the 51st minute he turned in James Morrison’s cross for the game’s first. Lambert introduced Bent, Charles N’Zogbia and Barry Bannan to change the game and though all three failed to provide an instant impact, the striker finished from eight yards after a loose ball had kindly fallen to him.

“It’s been difficult, losing the captaincy then finding out I wasn’t playing,” Bent afterwards said.