Writer: J P Fear
Date:Sunday April 16 2006
Attendance: 40 158
Villa 9 goal attempts - Blues 12. Villa 7 shots on target - Blues 8. Possession 51% Villa - Blues 49%. The only stat that matters? 3 points and safety (if not mathematically, certainly realistically).
The players owed us this and the fans responded with interest. Showed some of the younger fans just how loud and how much fun Villa Park can be.
Against the run of play (the possession according to my mate watching on Sky was something like 80% Blues) Villa scored via a Milan Baros goal. Ok, Bruce moaned at the fact that they should have had a free kick before Milner crossed the ball in but the Blues defenders just stood and watched as Baros nipped in and silenced their fans. It had been all one way before that, but much like Villa for a great deal of this season, it is all well and good going forward, but if you don't shoot, you don't score.
When Chris Sutton popped up to equalise - with a long ball from the half way line not being picked up by our players and being slotted in by the former Blackburn and Celtic man - the Villa crowd went quiet as it looked like Small Heath had the measure of us. To be fair, in the first half Villa were second to nearly every ball and I was happy that we were able to go in on level terms. The second half Villa were more lively and although Blues huffed and puffed, they were unable to get passed either of our rookie defenders. Heskey especially should be ashamed if he takes his wages this week, he is a big lad who spends most of his time on the floor. He could have been awesome but will always be remembered as average...........oh dear, how sad, never mind.
Talking about rookie defenders, not content to shut the Blues out our end, Gary Cahill decided to get into the action in the opponents box and scored what should surely be the goal of the season? The ball was crossed over, flicked in and Phillips shot. That deflected and went into the air, a bit of scrappy play ensued and the ball was once again launched into the air. Cahill decided he'd launch himself and scissor kicked the ball straight into the back of the net from what must have been four foot in the air! This guy looks like he could be world class, I don't care what he wants contract wise, SIGN HIM UP.
The Blues were now deflated and you can see why they are going to be relegated this season, they simply have no player capable of finishing. When your top scorer is on four goals, you know you are in trouble. To make their day worse Milan Baros, who was a pest for their defenders all afternoon - how anyone can say that this quality player is lazy is beyond me - got hold of the ball following an Angel and Milner one two and slotted the ball into the far corner passing their keeper Taylor with ease.
Lets not get too carried away with the performance, Villa weren't exactly world beaters here, they failed to bring the ball down and play it on the floor, but when we got the chances we took them and that is something we have done all too rarely this season. Not only that, but I don't think any Villa fan expected it to be pretty today, all we wanted was the bragging rights and we've got them!
The fans deserved this, the players owed it to us and thank goodness we got the points. I don't care what anyone says, we are now safe without question.
My dad came out with a good point once the whistle blew. He asked 'when do they present the cup?' Dad has been a Villa fan all his life, followed them in the old 3rd division days etc, so he's claret and blue through and through, but he detests the fact that this derby win is being seen as the only important thing about this season. So we beat Small Heath. Seriously, so what? Great for a day out, but didn't we used to have bigger fish to fry? That said, great to beat the blues and even sweeter by the fact that we didn't even have to play that well AND the fact our keeper didn't make any derby day blunders.
Thought seeing David O'Leary once again saluting Doug Ellis, and Doug Ellis looking like we had won the Premiership summed us up though. Sorry to be grumpy, but Ellis has his vision, we are safe, we are the biggest club in the Midlands and nothing else matters. The dvd on the market at the moment is 'Villa - Kings of the Midlands' and the official site as you entered it said 'Beating the blues means the world'. WRONG. Winning the league, the European Cup and Super Cup meant the world, beating small heath is just pleasant in comparison.
For me, I want so much more. For the 1000's of fans that won't be renewing next season, they want so much more. O'Leary -as a non Villa man - can salute Doug all he likes. Both will only ever get the middle finger salute from me because of this season. A double over the blues is nice, to compete against those at the top of the league would be better. O'Leary could make amends given the funds, Ellis will never make amends!
Date:Sunday April 16 2006
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