Villa Party At Blackburn
Attendance: 20 776
Another great away match report from our very own Glensider
Well I think first of all I need to take five, calm down, and collect my thoughts. Did we party at Ewood Park tonight? Great travelling support, tremendous atmosphere, and to a man (and woman) we let the lads know that we were behind them from start to finish. At the end, the celebrations could no doubt be heard back in Brum. I thought we'd won the F.A. Cup. So did the lads in the claret and blue I think. They came over to join in the celebrations after this routing of Blackburn Rovers. Great stuff.
Yet just as at The Riverside on Saturday, we weathered a first half storm, real backs to the wall stuff, and this after taking the game to Hughes' lads from the get go. For the first five minutes we were bright, inventive, earned two corners, and looked (as was proved the case, full of goals). Then the home side, obviously deciding that enough was enough came forward in droves, but as we've come to expect from the lads at the back, we defended stoutly, if at times, and it must be said, rather luckily. Scotty Carson too was in superb form, denying the Rovers at every opportunity. He made one great save from our old nemesis David Dunn, and that save gave the very clear message that nothing was going to get past Scotty tonight. Freddie Bouma continued where he left off on Saturday by again showing to all that he's a real unsung hero, while Olof, Martin, and Zat were solid to a fault, ready to throw themselves into everything and anything.
Anyway, with Rovers not able to capitalise on what was an impressive opening twenty-five minutes or so, and let me say here and now, they looked a very good side, a class above Birmingham and Middlesbrough, our previous two opponents, we took the lead when Big J.C. struck, a glancing header past Brad Friedel that started a lot of hugging, kissing, and dancing behind Scot Carson's goal. Personally I like John Carew, think that he's much maligned by some, yet he is the perfect foil for Gabby and Ashley, particularly with the pace and ability those two top quality youngsters possess. He's a handful to any defence he comes up against.
That goal allowed us to settle, and we looked good. Stilyan Petrov looked the quality player that he so obviously is. Definitely his best performance in a Villa shirt since, oh I don’t know, since I was in my teens. Stan, Gareth, and Nigel were keeping Rovers' array of midfield talent (wouldn't mind seeing David Bentley in a Villa shirt) pretty quiet, and suddenly we were almost 2-0 up, Friedel making the block from Gabby. We probably should have scored.
Half-time arrives, and the feel good factor that we enjoyed at The Riverside, was very definitely with us again. The words, 'Can we make it four on the trot'? were on everyone's lips. No, we hadn't served up a sparkling first half, nor were we at our best, but once again the feeling and belief was very strong, that this team that Martin is assembling doesn't roll over and surrender all that easily.
The second half was heaven, sheer heaven. I'm still hoarse from giving vocal encouragement, and providing the lads out on the pitch the benefit of my expert knowledge.
Nelsen, not the first defender to find out this season that when it comes to out-pacing and out-foxing, Gabby, you haven't got a chance, decided to tug back our wonder-boy, giving away a spot kick, and earning himself a straight red from the referee in the process.
Up steps Gareth, 2-0, we're on our way.
Rovers, now down to ten, did what they had to do, namely push forward in the hope they might sneak one back, to give themselves a fighting chance. It was never going to happen, even with close to forty minutes on the clock to aid their cause.
Ash superbly finished off a cut-back from Gabby, 3-0, giving Friedel no chance, and leaving Rovers dead and buried.
The party was well and truly now in full swing, Christmas come early. What a thoroughly impressive demolition job, against what is a very good and strong Blackburn team, certainly a team that will be up there competing with us for a top six finish.
And, believe it or not, it wasn't over.
Friedel could only parry Big Johns shot, and there was Marlon to roll home number four. His 100th League goal I was informed by the chap sitting in front of me (so please don’t hold me to that).
We were in full voice now, better than I've experienced away from home in a long, long time. Tremendous volume of noise. Really enjoyed joining in the 'stick' hurled at David Dunn throughout the game. Good footballer at times he may well be, but he's also something of a con-artist, and that’s an area of his game he needs to eliminate.
So, in summing up, we beat a very good side in Blackburn Rovers. Yes we rode our luck for the first twenty five minutes or so, but this set of lads hang in there, they fight and compete for every ball. They are obviously proud to wear that shirt.
Martin, I don’t know what you're doing exactly, but keep on doing it. Aston Villa Football Club are back, and back with a vengeance.
Tonight I'm very proud, as each and every one of us should be, to be a Villan. Aren't we always? MON's claret and blue army are on the march. Something very good is happening, lets all get behind them and support the cause.
Must add that the 4-0 scoreline made that walk back up the hill to the car, and the drive back to Beautiful Brum a lot, lot easier.