Aston Villa 2 Charlton Athletic 0
They were indebted to the goal scoring skill of their two youngsters, Gabby Agbonlahor and Luke Moore for their latest success which stretched their run to six games without defeat.
It was not one of Villa's best performances but the win was carved out by some solid team work and positive finishing. O'Neill has instilled a will to win and this was reflected in their win over a Charlton side which has now won one of their six matches this season.
Manager Iain Dowie may blame injuries for their plight but the new Charlton boss needs to find some finishing power. Charlton last won away from home eleven months ago at Portsmouth and with the exception of an early spell, hardly looked likely of ending this miserable run.
It was a notable game as it was the first home game after Doug Ellis relinquished control at Villa Park to allow the take-over by the American, Randy Lerner.
It was necessary to make an immediate impact but Villa found themselves up against a resolute Charlton side looking for only their second win of the season.
The Addicks, however, were the more positive and it was Villa who struggled to weather the early storm. Charlton might well have gained an early advantage in the
opening five minutes when both Gareth Barry and Olof Mellberg missed a long through ball. As Mellberg struggled to make contact with the ball it slithered through to Jimmy Hasselbaink who screwed his shot into the side-netting.
Dennis Rommedahl was generally a danger man for Charlton but the Addicks failed to capitalise upon his service. The Dane often posed problems for Barry but the Villa skipper, who has earned considerable praise from manager Martin O'Neill, kept at his task. Barry demonstrated his value to Villa when he eventually carved out the opening goal of the season with a trade-mark long cross from the left. Gabby Agbonlahor cleverly guided Barry's cross past Scott Carson for his first goal of the season.
With Stilian Petrov making a quiet home debut which generally matched Villa's over-all first half performance it was a timely strike by the teenager. It relieved a great deal of pressure and it was particularly noticeable that Steven Davis emerged from a staid performance to emerge as a potential threat.
Charlton's inability to raise their game to get out of trouble was often reflected by their lack of finishing power despite the skill of Rommedahl and the inclusion of such
players as their leading marksman, Darren Bent, and veteran marksman, Jimmy Hasselbaink.
The Addicks subsequently paid the ultimate penalty for their problems in front of goal when Villa steamed ahead in the 61st minute. Juan Pablo Angel created the goal with a smart swiftly executed pass from the left to the on-rushing Luke Moore. He shrugged off a couple of Charlton defenders before slotting his shot past Carson. Agbonlahor was not so positive when he broke through with only Carson to beat but the teenager attempted to guide his shot past the on-loan keeper and his weak effort was easily saved.