Not A Cloud In The Sky (Match Rep)
They said that it was a typical gloomy, overcast, November day. Well I never noticed, neither did any of the 3,000 plus Villans packed in the Railway End, along with the few brave souls who were scattered amongst the blue and white lot around the stadium.
For us all the sun was shining, and everything was right with the world. We were there to party, and for most of the 90 minutes or so, we did.
Didn't enjoy the 80 minute or so lock in at the end though. I can sort of understand the reasoning behind it, buit 80 minutes? I personally thought that that was uncalled for.
We started slowly, and doubts started to creep into the Railway End supporters, but we needn't have worried. Liam Ridgewell, as he was prone to do for us all too often, decided to take it upon himself to change the course of the game, by diverting the rather superb Stan Petrov's hard driven cross past a bemused Maik Taylor, and into the back of the Tilton Road net. 1-0 to the good guys.
We dominated the rest of the half, always in control, yet failed to add to the lead, which of course left us open to the expected Birmingham City onslaught that was certain to come in the second forty-five. Yes, Birmingham had two heated claims for penalties, but without the aid of repeated t.v. showings to confirm or deny my on the spot opinions, I thought the ref got it right both times.
Onto the second half, and the introduction of Mikel Forssell, a substitution which at the time worried me a little. The guys a predator, and despite having some injury issues of late, he's always liable to pop one in, and our fears were confirmed when he put the Blues level, to jolt the home lot awake, and up the noise and atmosphere level inside Birmingham's biggest eyesore (which incidentally wasn't full).
Nigel Reo-Coker volleyed over into the traveling Villans, an awful miss, when it looked so much easier to score. Blues pressed, and many of us started to think that maybe a point would be fine, if we could only hold out. Ridgewell nearly atoned for his first half blooper when his goalbound header was cleared off the line (by Gabby I believe), and we were then looking at our watches wishing that the last few minutes would hurry by. We needn't have worried.
Ashley swung over a superb cross that Gabby got onto the end of, and the pandemonium began. Found myself hugging a complete stranger who had been sat in the row behind, but was now encircled in my arms. Understand Gabby was booked for his joyous celebration, but missed that completely. The lads reaction at the end was superb, every one a hero. Olof's face was a picture. You could see it meant as much to the players as it did to us the supporters.
Thanks Martin and the lads. You did us proud.
My man of the match was Stilyan Petrov, who I thought looked very much as if his confidence and form are returning by the match. Ash too was class. When isn't he? No everythings still not 100%. We're not world-beaters yet. We still have some way to go. We have our faults, faults that no doubt Martin and co are well aware of, and will seek to rectify come January. But I'm not going to be negative in any way. We've just turned over that lot from across the way. I'm going to celebrate and gloat until we come up against them next Spring. Hopefully that'll be the day we charge the visiting supporters forty-five quid per ticket, and keep them locked inside Villa Park for 80 minutes at the end.