Jonny Fear Scores Winner
Attendance: 30 957
Sod the result, that was a great game! Yes, from our first half dominance we could have put the game out of site but then, with the battering possession wise we took in the second half and the fact we went 2-1 behind, we could have so easily lost the game and in seasons gone we would have.
There is a new resilience amongst our team, they are prepared to battle and simply refuse to lose. Fair enough they refuse to win as well, but we'll ignore that, with the squad and players available and the fact we all know Martin O'Neill hasn't had the chance to spend many pennies (or is it cents) yet, we are doing great.
I agreed with my mates (yes, I do have some, well I say mates, more like paid friends really, but you get the picture) that top ten would do this season and yet now we have 'slipped' to seventh we are all disappointed. If not for a few wasted opportunities (West Ham, Watford and Blackburn spring to mind) we could easily be 3rd. With a tough December and early January fixture list, we certainly could have done with picking up a few more points, the higher we are in the league the easier it will be for O'Neill to attract top players, although players aren't stupid, they will know there is a revolution at Villa, the Villa of old (or the old Ellis Villa) is history. This is a new era.
So yes, we could have picked up all the points last night if we'd taken the chances in the first half, credit has to go to their keeper Paddy for pulling off some fine saves, and bad luck to Gary Cahill who just couldn't get a full contact on a great pass to guide the ball into the net. The second half it was a different story with credit going to Villa keeper Stuart Taylor who pulled off some stunning saves, one a double save that looked sure to be a goal. Just got to hope he isn't badly injured after he clashed knees with a blade, if he is we will be using Villa's 20-year-old Robert Olejnik against Bolton on Saturday against Bolton.
The great thing about the game is that it was played in a great battling spirit, probably a reflection on two battling managers. Our first goal was within two minutes as Petrov at last got on the score sheet. That should help settle the player down who was, albeit quiet at times, quality last night. He still isn't great at battling but playmakers often aren't.
The second half Sheffield United got back into it with some unusually sloppy marking by our mean defence, hopefully Mellberg shaving his beard off didn't adversely affect his team mates, I fear it did (that said I still fear Rudolph the Red nose reindeer, trust me, anything with a red nose is either an alcoholic or the devils spawn). When Webber, who was about to be subbed, scored a second for the Blades Bramall Lane erupted and I must admit, I thought we'd lost the game.
80 seconds later all was even as Baros got the ball IN THE BOX and forced home a well taken shot. See, you get the ball to him where it matters and he will score. Sod about with long balls when he has the back to defenders and he'll do nothing. It isn't always the strikers faults, not completely. That said, I was surprised he was on in place of Angel who had scored as sub in the last game and does do more legwork for the team. Great goal, hopefully confidence restored and all this rubbish about him not scoring for eight months, he was injured and there was the summer break during that time!
Match stats: Click Here
Stuart Taylor 9
Wilfred Bouma 8
Olof Mellberg 7
Gary Cahill 7
Liam Ridgewell 7
Gavin McCann 6
Steven Davis 6
Gabriel Agbonlahor 6
Stiliyan Petrov 7
Chris Sutton 7
Milan Baros 7
Aaron Hughes (on for injured Bouma 67)
Isaiah Osbourne (on for Davis 75)
Juan Pablo Angel (on for a shattered Chris Sutton
Jonny Fear (on during his dream)