Last-gasp saviour Heskey repays Houllier’s faith

WOLVES (1) vs ASTON VILLA (2)

ASTON VILLA manager Gerard Houllier insists Emile Heskey is far from finished after the veteran forward earned victory in his first league match in charge. Houllier, who signed Heskey for Liverpool while boss at Anfield, handed the much-maligned former England frontman his first start of the season against Wolves. And the 32-year-old repaid his faith by mustering a prodigious leap and powerful downward header to snatch three points in the 88th minute.

Stewart Downing had touched Villa in front in the Midlands derby midway through the first half, but Wolves equalised on the hour when everyone missed a Matt Jarvis cross. Heskey’s starting role was reward for an influential substitute’s appearance in the midweek comeback victory over Blackburn.

“All players need confidence. Strikers need more confidence. Everyone loves Emile at the club, he is a good team-mate. What he needs is to keep believing in himself,” said Houllier, right. “Because he plays up front and sometimes misses sitters, people get on his back and maybe that has hurt him in the past. But Emile fights for the ball in the air, tries to keep it and links up with the midfield. His work-rate was phenomenal and his understanding and movement with Ashley Young is good.”

Heskey’s winner came from a cross by Stephen Warnock, another at Anfield during Houllier’s reign, and the Frenchman quipped: “It was practically a Liverpool goal.”

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy felt aggrieved at the late goal, arguing that Warnock should have been shown a second yellow card for an earlier foul on Kevin Doyle.

“It is a great header by Heskey and we shouldn’t take that away from him,” said McCarthy. “We could have done better when the ball comes in but I don’t think Warnock should have been on the pitch.

“If it is a foul, it is a booking. It just rankles a bit. He shouldn’t be there.”