ANDREW VORCE - Sunday, August 15, 2010
It was an afternoon to forget for Tim Howard who gift-wrapped a win to Blackburn while Bolton's Stuart Holden started and went the distance in a scoreless draw versus Clint Dempsey and Fulham.

Aston Villa 3 - 0 West Ham

Brad Friedel had little to do as benched Jonathan Spector's West Ham were outworked to a strong opening day defeat, while Eric Lichaj and Brad Guzan were on Villa's bench.

Interim head coach Kevin MacDonald saw his team go ahead in the 15th minute when West Ham cheaply gave up possession in the midfield.

Robert Green was forced into a double save, but his deflection off of Marc Albrighton's cross found Stewart Downing unmarked on the back post to tap in the first goal of the 2010/2011 Premier League Season.

Stiliyan Petrov pushed the Villans ahead five minutes before the break after a monster header from inside the box left the entire back line clutching at straws.

West Ham afforded Ashley Young too much space on the edge of the penalty area, and his lofted ball into the box was met by the surging run of Petrov for a power header past Green.

One of the main focal points of the match was whether or not the game would be James Milner's last at Villa Park with an apparent move to Manchester City on the cards. If that does end up being the case, Milner gave his perfect coup de grâce by finishing the scoring in the 66th minute.

The goal was made by the 20 year old Albrighton who turned James Tomkins inside out before teeing up Milner who smashed his one time finish past Green.

Albrighton was booked, along with Tomkins and Julien Faubert for West Ham. The Hammers next face Stuart Holden and Bolton, while Villa face Rapid Vienna in the Europa League Play-Off Round.

Bolton 0 - 0 Fulham

Stuart Holden was a 90 minute player while Clint Dempsey was a 75th minute sub for Mark Hughes' Fulham at Reebok Stadium.

The match was a battle of attrition, and Holden came the closest from anyone after initially missing a 30 yard screamer that went over the post in the 48th minute.

Just three minutes after his countryman subbed on for the other team, Holden let fly from just outside the area only to hit David Stockdale's right hand post.

Dempsey also used his signature skills to give the away fans a show, but both ends were unable to produce the final product.

Zoltan Gera, John Pantsil, and Bobby Zamora were all booked along with Bolton's Fabrice Muamba. Bolton will next face West Ham, while Fulham take on Manchester United.

Blackburn 1 - 0 Everton

Tim Howard will have a long look in the mirror Sunday morning after absolutely gifting Blackburn their opening day win at Ewood Park.

In the 14th minute, Howard decided to come to the edge of the 18 to beat Nikola Kalinic to the ball only to spill it back into the striker's path who shot into the open net to secure all three points.

The massive error forced Everton to push for an equalizer but any pressure created by the Toffees was met by the Blackburn defense including Paul Robinson being forced into an immaculate save from Phil Jagielka's power shot.

Morten Gamst Pedersen and Michel Salgado were booked for Blackburn, while Tim Cahill was booked for Everton.

Up next for the Toffees is a home test against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Wolves 2 - 1 Stoke

Marcus Hahnemann and Wolverhampton Wanderers were able to hold on to a first half lead to give their home crowd nothing but joy on Opening Day.

Hahnemann survived an early scare as Kenwyne Jones went on a solo run that ended with a powerful looping shot that beat the keeper but not his cross bar as the shot ricocheted to safety.

The injury bug hit Tony Pulis' squad early as Jones was hacked down right in front of the bench which forced the player out of action.

It took a moment of brilliance to push Wolves in front as the home team won a free kick just on the edge of the area.

David Jones scored perhaps the goal of his season after Karl Henry sent the ball slowly rolling, the indirect free kick forward before Jones popped the ball up left footed before letting loose on his volley that went over Thomas Sorensen hitting the crossbar and then going in.

Stephen Fletcher scored six minutes before the break to give Wolves a comfortable lead after a deflected cross in went over Sorensen and to Fletcher who beat out his marker to head from point blank range.

Abdoulaye Faye got the consolation goal for Stoke City in the 55th minute, his powerful header giving Hahnemann no chance.

Roberth Huth and Dean Whitehead were both booked for Stoke City. Up next for Wolves is a face up of Hahnemann and Tim Howard as Wolves travel to Everton.

Derby 1 - 2 Cardiff

Connor Doyle was a 70th minute substitute for Derby who allowed a late goal in to walk away with nothing from Pride Park Stadium.

Chris Burke was Cardiff's man of the match after an assist and a goal pushed the visitors over the top against Derby. Burke dispossessed Kris Commons before piking out Michael Chopra who took his time before slotting past Stephen Bywater.

Derby hit back 10 minutes later int he 25th minute through Tomasz Cywka who got on the end of a Luke Varney cross to smash home from eight yards out.

The winner came in the 78th minute when the Rams couldn't deal with Peter Whittingham's cross. Bywater miscued his run with that of his defenders, and Burke was the beneficiary after slotting home from inside the box to hit the game winner.

Shaun Barker and Robbie Savage were both booked for Derby, who next face Coventry.

Plymouth 1 - 1 Carlisle

Anton Peterlin and Frank Simek locked horns as Plymouth came back at the end of the game to earn a draw at home against the visiting Cumbrians.

Carlisle's leading goal scorer last term with 18 goals, Ian Harte, put the visitors ahead in the 68th minute with a header, while he was denied a second after a spectacular save from David Button.

In the fourth minute of added time, Rory Patterson popped up to smash home his eight yard shot to ensure a share of the spoils.

James Berrett was booked for Carlisle while Lee Molyneux was booked for Plymouth. Carlisle next takes on MK Dons on Saturday while Plymouth travel to Banks's Stadium to take on Walsall.

Stockport 0 - 0 Wycombe

Jon-Paul Pittman was a 57th minute but Wycombe were unable to find a way past Owain fon Williams at Stockport.

Robbie Williams had a ninth minute free kick deflect off the base of the post while fon Williams and Nikki Bull both produced strong saves to stop each others' teams attempts at goal.

Kevin Betsy came close off of a header for Wycombe, while Bull stopped George Donnelly and Jamie Proctor from breaking the deadlock.

Greg Tansey was booked for Stockport while Betsy was booked for Wycombe. Up next for the Chairboys is a home test against Oxford United.


Seb Harris was on the bench for Northampton who drew 0-0 at home against Accrington Stanley.

Zak Whitbread failed to make the bench as Norwich struck at the death away at Scunthorpe to secure the win.

Leeds United forward Mike Grella stayed on the bench away to Nottingham Forest in the two teams' 1-1 draw.

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