Aston Villa - Vital Villa Match Report: Villa v Bradford
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Aston Villa 2 - Bradford City 1

Villa Park


Attendance: 40 193

Vital Villa Match Report: Villa v Bradford

Capital One Cup -Semi Final Second League


The Mrs and I finished early and changed at work, both appearing from the toilets dressed like Eskimos. We decided our winter hats were not up to scratch so, full of hope, we purchased new bonnet warmers from the Villa shop in a bid to keep out the cold. Indeed, there seemed to be a run on hats, scarfs and optimism. London Hotel anyone?


A packed flag bearing Villa Park heralded the arrival of the two teams to a fanfare worthy of a cup semi-final. Their wasn't a spare seat in sight. Most of the season ticket holders around us had taken up their allocation with a few new faces thrown in to the riot that is Holte Lower L7 and L8. Everyone stood up from the off, belting out the classics in passionate and throaty voices for the team. The 6,000 Bradford City fans who were housed in the North Stand upper tier and the far end of the Doug Ellis Stand. With a 2 goal advantage I would have thought they'd have given it some early on though the sight of a rocking Villa Park seemed to still the custard and rust army.

Villa turned out in a 4-4-2, Vlaar has returned to partner Clark at CB which is a massive relief. The 5 man defence formation seemed reactionary and poorly organised. Good to be back to basics though I look nervously to LB. This is our soft spot- the Lion's underbelly. Everyone who comes to Villa Park now targets us on the left flank. Tonight's LB is Bennett, a young player who is learning fast; an athletic agile full back who has great positional sense though poor timing on the tackle and clumsy with it. He played well against the Baggies though the boy always looks like he'll give away free kicks and is a penalty waiting to happen. Given that set pieces are killing us this does not bode well. With Bannan Delph and Ireland setting up as a midfield three, Agbonlahor and N'Zogbia are left to support the towering Benteke up front in a three pronged attack. All guns are go. Villa Park pantomime hate figure Phil Dowd blows the whistle and we are off.

Villa are at it from the start. In fact for most of the first half Villa pulverise Bradford. I expect nothing less. A fourth tier team should be getting pulled apart here. Benteke is dominating their back line. His early bullet header is saved by Duke though he gets the goal that counts on the 24th minute, poking the ball high passed the Bradford keeper from six yards. I feel we should get more. There's a shot on the turn from Agbonlahor and two rasping efforts from N'Zogbia, who is playing like a man possessed. The last three games have somehow resurrected N'Zogbia who is looking like a talent again. Feels like a new signing.

Bradford are camped in their own half and their fans are quiet. We look commanding at the back and are surely on for more goals in this one. We go down to the concourse to get some hot tea inside us on 43' minutes. Half way home.

The new hat is a revelation. My head now all the tog of an Eskimos boiler. With double layers all round and thick socks I'm toasty and still confident as the second half kicks off. Heaven knows why because our Achilles heal is about to floor us.

Bradford win a corner. I feel myself tense up. The Mrs grabs my hand and pulls the peak of her new hat down so its ready to engulf her face should something bad happen. Something bad does happen. On 55 minutes' Ron Vlaar, who was supposed to take our defence back toward competence, loses his man on the near post, allowing Hanson to nut in a power header. The atmosphere goes out of the stadium like a fly away balloon, as Bradford City erupt into ecstasy. I am left reeling as my heart enters my stomach. We are now back at square one, needing two goals with just over 30 minutes to play to get us extra-time. The Mrs is now covered by hat.

Bradford nearly seal it with an instant second. Hanson, however, misreads his chance and heads over when the net was at his mercy. As the clock ticks down to 70 minutes Thompson's pure strike clips the Villa cross bar. My heart has now moved from my stomach to my mouth. Bradford City should be out of sight and we should be dead and buried.

As the doubt creeps in Villa begin to lose faith. The forward play is now bitty and the sideways passing game is now in full swing. The movement on the front line is at times static. Nobody seems to want it. It isn't long before we are lumping it forward for Benteke's height and Agbonlahor's pace.

Desperation is setting in.

Lambert rings the changes Weimann for Bennett on 70'. Weimann looks hungry for another goal. He is without doubt a trier and a striker with an eye for the net. Bent replaced Bannan on 62' though has been largely invisible, which now consists of Steven Ireland in front of a back three. We are literally going for it with all we've got.

Two things now happen. Firstly, the gentleman behind me, who has been a pain all night long, pushed someone over the edge. He has obviously just come out for the big game and has proceeded for the entirety of the second-half to lambast the team and the manager with an array of Fing this and Fing that. His language is disgusting; his 'support' non-existent, his frustration all too familiar. I can tell he doesn't come out often. The gentleman in front of me, a season ticket holder, has had enough and turns to Professor Negative to tell him so. Fing this and Fing that are now flying past my shoulder at a rate of knots. I am a big lad. I quite fancy joining in but think better of it. professor Negative is invited to watch small heath town on a regular basis. His face goes purple. It is looking as though it might kick off. Secondly -remember the game?- Andi Weimann collects a Darren bent knock on in the 89th, rounds Matt Duke and scores to make it 2-1. All those heading for the exits are now stood hoping upon hope that we get that third goal. We don't get the third goal as Bradford expertly run down the clock. They are deservedly on their way to Wembley. Congratulations to them for a heroic Roy of the Rovers performance.


Much to ponder. Villa have the worst goal difference in the Premier league and over two seasons now they have struggled from seat pieces. If anything they have got worst. We also struggle to score goals up front and have an awful home record; because we were playing Bradford City, the Villa faithful believed those problems wouldn't rear their head, particularly as they have been more reflective of our league form than our adventurers in the League Cup. Football, however, is the same game regardless of competition and those problems were there for all too see. Such a combination, if unaddressed, is guaranteed to sink us. Worryingly, Lambert, whose credit is starting to run out, has not been able to find solutions. He picks the team and sets the tactics. He is right, it is not 'rocket science' but it is his job to ensure the team are competent enough in key areas.

For me, this nothing to do with money or the quality of the playing staff. These are basic things that footballers from League two upwards should be doing. We know this because Bradford are doing them. Villa must have had 20-30 chances over the tow legs and have managed to score 3 measly goals. We have conceded four goals from set pieces alone! Simply not good enough at any level. I am not suggesting we sack the manager though there must be a review of what is happening at Bodymoor Heath for these same stupid mistakes to keep occurring.

I am inconsolable on the way back. The cue on the Lichfield Road for Aston Station is ten deep. A mass snowball fight breaks out. The Mrs, allergic to round objects flying through the air at speed, cowers against me. I find this amusing but then I take a clump of snow to the head. My now trusty hat saves me though I am not impressed. We are both tired, cold and angry. As the Mrs puts it: "The players are taking the **** out of us at the moment. Not fit for the shirt." I couldn't agree more. Not only is my beloved club getting pulled apart most weeks I'm now getting snowballed.

As Lambert has acknowledged, they let us down tonight. The manager seemed gutted, the players hurt and angry with themselves. (Credit to Vlaar and Lowton by the way for having the guts and the face to come and applaud the Holte End. Duly noted). Not as let down and gutted hurt and angry as well feel though.

I mumble a prayer: "Lord if you can here me, I, your humble servant Villa Herbert Grizzly do ask thee for a talented ball playing midfielder with leadership qualities. I know that you are busy spinning planets and with that whole middle east thing but if you could see to it that we sign someone good we'd all be chuffed. Oh, can you send a number 67 bus along as well, because this cue is doing my head in. Thanks Lord."

Star Player

Man of the Match: Nzogbia

Room for Improvement: Bannan

The Journalist

Writer: Villa_Grizzly Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday January 23 2013

Time: 11:55AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Oh how we miss Petrov
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23/01/2013 12:12:00

The Fear
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23/01/2013 12:32:00

Thanks V_G for a full report. I thought the way the team played was shameful. The optimism of the crowd that you refer to before ko, we were also in L7 Lower Holte, was transformed into a divided fanbase by ineptitude on the truly grand scale. I cannot imagine any other 11 EPL players putting on such an appalling performance.
Forest Hill Villan
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23/01/2013 12:34:00

great report
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23/01/2013 12:49:00

I'll get slated for this but.. I feel we are only bad (terrible at times) in one area. The defense. PL needs to address this before the end of the transfer window. we need at least 2 players who can tower above players. To be honest thats why i'd play Baker with vlaar. We had no luck in these 2 games, we dominated for large periods in both. The ball just wouldn't drop for us.. unlike bradford's 1st goal (in the 1st leg). We have to make signings that are going to improve us, and thats going to be a lot harder than it sounds.
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23/01/2013 13:28:00

simple question - was the chairman at his club's cup semi final last night (its not rhetorical - I would like to know, although I think I know the answer - advised against it by his security staff)
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23/01/2013 13:33:00

he wasn't - watched it live in the US. We need to lay off this - get rid fo him and change that attitude. He's given miles more than he has gotten back, he's trying to get the club running at a profit rather than a loss. Lambert and he will turn this club around. the club needs stability and more importantly our support.
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23/01/2013 13:41:00

Sorry applesmoke got to disagree its not just the defence which has problems with basics the midfield is still non existent in front of them. You can try and sell me Bannan ,Ireland and Nzobia all you like but no else will buy them.Cannot think of one midfielder we have who is premiership quality. Last nights goals one a cross from a defender who cant defend,the other a pass from another forward. The strikers who are operating on scraps spend half their time trying to win the ball back.The worst thing I can accuse this Villa team of is lack of bottle and thats down to the manager to instill in them.
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23/01/2013 14:28:00

Vlaar and Clark are useful defenders. Villa have no decent midfield at all. Delph is a marmite player who might benefit from a decent partner. Maybe move Clarke permanently into central midfield partnering Delph? Delph+Clark could be a solid partnership.
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23/01/2013 14:28:00

Pat Murphy of the BBC saying Lamberts's job is safe even if Villa are relegated.
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23/01/2013 14:29:00

Sorry Grizz forgot my manners thanks for taking the trouble to put it together given how you and your long suffering better half must have felt.
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23/01/2013 14:31:00

Yeah, good job V_G.
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23/01/2013 14:32:00

Stop trying to blow smoke up my ass - this just in from the PA: "Lambert retains the faith of Villa owner Randy Lerner even though the midlands club are also involved in a Barclays Premier League relegation battle. It is believed Lambert would still stay in charge even if Villa drop down to the Championship with Lerner believing he would be the right man to take them back up after his double promotion exploits at Norwich." What an outrageous piece of doublethink. The basic premise of this is that no manager could keep us up, so we might as well have one who can bring us back up sooner rather than later - in a season when the TV cash explodes out of sight. I heard some ********* during my distinguished business career but this is the same as someone trying to justify why the interest rate on my card has just coincidentally tripled in the first month I decided not to pay off a large balance in full.
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23/01/2013 14:40:00

I'll probably get slated for this, but in answer to calavfc, do we really miss Petrov. With all due respect to the guy (hope he continues getting better) but before his illness,he wasn't pulling up any trees. A number of us I recall nicknamed him "the crab" as most of the time the ball would go either sideways or backwards.
Pride of Lions
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23/01/2013 14:54:00

Mala I said this in a thread last night I think the Aston Villa "plan" is based 95% on the assumption we will go down this year... Its essentially lets see what happens with what we've got EITHER we stick with what we've got and if we stay up great BUT if we go down we didn waste any money trying to stay up... I believe that is the idiotic logic the hierarchy is using right now... These people probably think the overpaid/overrated wont want to collect their enormous wages if we drop into the championship... Good one guys we will still be burdened with players we dont want while our good propects i.e. Weimann and Benteke will be sold without a fight...
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23/01/2013 15:00:00

@merlin. I agree about the midfield - bannan and ireland are next to useless. I'd say a DCM is a priority also. I think westwood is capable and would benefit from such a signing. I think clark would be better suited in midfield and either he or herd could do that DCM role if we don't sign anyone. BUT clark is all over the place at the back and he hasn't improved since the 6-0 defeat at newcastle.
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23/01/2013 15:10:00

there simply isnt any leadership within your team. I will reserve Judgment of Vlaar, but I have not really been that impressed but I also accept he has such young players around him. In midfield players like Ireland have been a disgrace. he is still living on one outstanding season at City but has been pretty shocking ever since and you would be better off without him, despite his obvious ability, problem is he just doesn't use it. I was impressed with N'Zogbia last night and also at the weekend, however he has been a huge let down considering his ability. it makes it hard for the manager to look to these players when they have played so poorly and not led the way for the kids
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23/01/2013 15:25:00

Pride if Lions why would you get slated from telling it the way you see it. l for one agree with you.
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23/01/2013 16:20:00

What Petrov did have was the ability to win the ball in defence and take it out. Westwood may grow into that role but right now he does not even have the body armour to pull that off consistently. Petrov was also capable sometimes of dictating the pace of the build up, much as Ireland did for the first hour or so last night (although flattered by the opposition, he has this talent and has shown it on other occasions). What none of them were or are able to do is run the midfield singlehanded......I agree Clark and Ireland together with Westwood and/or someone new/better would be a distinct improvement. For all the Ireland haters, I hated him too until after he went on loan, as he clearly didnt want to be at Villa...however Newcastle was clearly worse and he got his finger out last year. The other two seasons he has been here he has been constantly passed over by the manager. As with Bent, its hard to be consistent when you have no run of games and therefore are lacking the mythical "match fitness".
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23/01/2013 16:47:00

One thing I felt we always got from Stan Pride was 100% although I thought he was not the most skillfull and had lost some pace with hindsight can probably understand the loss of pace. Like Gabby he took pride in the shirt the difference is when others dont seem to be putting in the effort Gabby retreats into his shell Stan kept going regardless. Agree with you on Bent mala but Ireland flatters to deceive and dissapears for 75% of every game.
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23/01/2013 17:09:00

Room for Improvement: Bannan! How many times have we seen that this season. I'll swap him for Brede Hangeland. Lowton why doesn't he attack defenders?
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23/01/2013 20:19:00

Lol! VillaWillRIseAgain - you were one of the fans calling for McLeish's head - but you are now suggesting a tactic that the Eck used regularly! He had Clark or Herd playing as a defensive midfielder. He knew this team was weak and he instantly tried to address it.
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23/01/2013 20:46:00

By the way Villa_Grizzley, thank you for the write up but the guy that sat behind you is perfectly entitled to his opinion on the team. He paid for his ticket just like you and if you don't like swear words then go and watch something nice and safe like chess or origami.
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23/01/2013 20:53:00

Piper -- And I still think Eck was wrong for the club but at least he used the tools at his disposal and kept Villa up. With hindsight Eck was dealt a bill of goods by the owner too. However, he used his experienced players, Bent and Warnock, for example. If Clark going into CM keeps Villa up then so be it. Lambert is trying to play Barca footie with players not equipped for the task. Most of the fans on this site wanted Eck out but as many have said since last night an Eck side would have ground Bradford into submission. The OPTA stats suggest Eck was a better manager -- purely in statistical terms -- than Lambert.
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23/01/2013 21:06:00

Its your midfield. Nobody gets stuck in, Delph and Bannan are ok on the ball when given time & space but against anybody pressing or anybody half decent you get completley overrun. Easily the worst pairing in the prem for me. Even Nigel Reo Coker would do a job at addressing that. You need that in a struggle. Fight. Its strange because with Benteke, Bent, Weimann & Gabby you arguably have a better set of strikers than Spurs! Yet your defence and midfield is an embarrassment in terms of workrate & strength let alone talent. EVen your few senior players are poor - Ireland lacks technique * NZogbia seriously lacks consistency as at times he looks a world beater but at more frequent times he looks horrendous. I hope your chairman gets his wallet out as id hate to see you go down, you belong in the premiership.
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24/01/2013 02:21:00

I'm sorry Piper but there are three kids in front of us, two behind. FING this and FING that with a load of C 's thrown in isn't an opinion, it's a torrent of abuse. If it is an opinion it's a barely understandable one disgustingly presented. Further, according to the gentleman concerned Joe Bennett is a ****. I personally don't know Joe Bennett as a person. As a young footballer he has made mistakes which have got me mad and fed up though I'm not going to start bawling over a bunch of kids that he is ****. I wouldn't say it to his face and frankly he deserves more respect than that. The little girl who sits in front of us, stands on her seat throughout the game. She watches her team diligently, never asks for the loo, never says she's bored, never wants to go home. She cheers, she claps and she watches the flight of the ball like a dog watching a stick. What a fabulous little Villan. I think she deserves a better example than some hanger on turning up after a stack of pints to omit forth a stream of verbal abuse. You can support your team with passion and high feeling without it.
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24/01/2013 08:53:00

I agree Grizzly my missus has vowed never to come to a Villa game again because we had a moron behind us at the last game she went to . The occasional expletive OK ( I do it) but non stop aggresive FFing & blinding ,personal verbal attacks on players has no place at todays grounds . My feeling is if you couldn't do it on the street you shouldn't be able to do it at the ground . It also makes economic sense because one moron or my missus & probably the grandkids, because she wont allow them to go either
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24/01/2013 10:02:00

"We are improving". I am not seeing that. Bannan doesnt need to be injured, he just needs to be dropped. Concentrate your mind and visualise the image of a new manager - followed by a new owner. A decent new manager will somewhat neutralise the effects of a fickle owner in the short term.
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24/01/2013 13:39:00

agree with 444. Although the more i hear coming out of villa the more i feel we won't be signing anybody. Hopeful all the noise from villa is just a smoke screen to keep teams from inflating prices. :(
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24/01/2013 13:43:00

HuddersfieldYiddo great obersavations from a neutral, pretty much spot on although if we play like this can we really say we still 'belong' in the prem? Also to those ppl who doubt we miss Petrov, i think ratings wise (OPTA) and performances put in he has been one of our best players for the 2 prior seasons when we also struggled, he has an exceptional character and despite not being the quickest he can read the game and break up opposition play something none of our current midfielders can do. If we dont get anyone new into our midfield I think much as I hate to say it that we will go down and it may be a while before we come back up. I also like others think id Baker is fit he should be in defence with clark as a DM to try and tighten us up.
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24/01/2013 13:52:00

For F**** sake do something Villa 24.1.2013 one week left in the transfer market to buy some quality midfielders.And bring Laursen in to coach the defence hes got his badges is Villa through and through USE him.
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24/01/2013 14:02:00

Can't you use your magic Merlin because I think that's the only way we're going to get new players !!
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24/01/2013 15:47:00

444 - Villa are not improving. It'll be interesting to see how the owner reacts if the club hits the EPL bottom position and stays there. As I've said it isn't that Villa are struggling,it is the manner in which they are struggling. S'Hampton were struggling but were playing decent footie and getting results (2-2 v Chelsea compared to Villa's O-8). Adkins should never have been sacked. Villal, on the other hand, are just dire. A chance at a cup final meant that Bent and Warnock hould have been involved even if Villa played Neanderthal footie to get there. PL is an arrogant tosser who won't swallow his pride.
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24/01/2013 15:56:00

The more I see of Lambert and the rabbit-in-the-headlights, 'Oh *****' expression on his face, the more I am convinced that he is out of his depth. The majority of fans weren't at Norwich calling out his name,btw. Lambert is a Philosopher-King filled with new-fangled ideas about how to play footie but without the players to do so. Villa need a General to grind out results in a pragmatic fashion. McLeish, for all his faults. did so with a poor squad. There is nobody at Villa with serious football knowledge from the players upwards. At this rate Villa will struggle in the second tier.
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24/01/2013 16:04:00


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