September 13, 2016 by notjustpumpkinbread
I was looking forward to visiting Villa Park when the fixture list was released at the start of the season. Then bloody Sky moved it to the day of my wife’s birthday.
Discretion being the better part of valour, I elected to celebrate her birthday at home and informed her she would be lucky enough to watch the mighty Forest on the TV just as a bit of a birthday treat. I can say this because I know she doesn’t mind. She is the most generous and supportive person I’ve ever known and I’m a lucky guy.
As for the game?
Well, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a biased form of coverage for a football team. Using a former Aston Villa player alongside Peter Beagrie pitch side, the constant use of “we” when referring to Villa was bad enough. And it didn’t get much better with the commentary team either. Maybe it’s Sky’s Premier League mentality – sucking up to the so-called “Big Boys”and all their money – I don’t know.
It may sound bitter, but it isn’t. Just good, balanced coverage of a game would be nice, not some fawning, doe-eyed love-in!
And don’t get me started on the ref! It’s bad enough when you have to play against “12 men” at the best of times, but when you’re reduced to 10 because of a ridiculous decision to send someone off like that, well words fail me.
Yet, despite all that, we came away with a very good draw and our first point on the road. Did we deserve it? Of course we did! You can see what M. Montanier is trying to do with the players and we’re still a work in progress.
Much was made of the lack of attempts on goal, but when it mattered, we struck. Our first goal was pretty much from nowhere, but isn’t that what strikers are there for? It certainly had me dancing around the room. Well done Apostolos, a fitting way to open your goalscoring account in the Garibaldi. A sweetly struck shot that gave the Villa goalie no hope.
We’d been weathering a bit of a storm in the first half, but for all Villa’s huff and puff, it remained goalless. Vladimir Stojković had been handed his debut and proved his worth with a great near post save from £11m Villa signing Kodjia. Earlier £12m man (isn’t it nice to have loads of money?) Ross McCormack had hit the post as Villa surged forward.
At the other end, all was quiet on the striker front. Had we set up not to concede in the hope of a goalless draw? While Sky’s half time round up waxed lyrical about the home side’s endeavours, they pretty much concluded that’s what we’d came to Villa Park for.
The most worrying aspect of the first half proceedings was the injury sustained by Matty Cash while challenging for the ball after 20 minutes. A brief attempt to continue in the game was fruitless, so on came Lam to replace him. With Kasami and Lansbury making up the midfield 3, Lam’s appearance allowed our Henri more opportunity to get forward.
Good work on the left from another debutant – this time Mustapha Carayol – saw him lay the ball off to Lansbury who had the awareness to roll the ball into Vellios. A little stutter to get his stride sorted allowed him to hit the ball first time. What. A. Goal! We were 12 minutes into the second half and 0-1 up. Villa were stunned.
A deeply hit free kick from the right found the head of Kodjia, but our man between the sticks was up to the task yet again, parrying the ball round the post and denying their man once more. The Villa onslaught has begun, but it looked like Stojković was our man. With our defence run ragged McCormack ghosted in at the far post to get on the end of a deep cross. Vladimir was not to be denied though, stooping quickly to his left to claw the ball away.
And still they came, with the inevitable conclusion. That man McCormack latched onto a pass in the box after too many Forest players were drawn into trying to clear the ball. A despairing dive from Mancienne wasn’t enough as he opened his body and sent Vlad the wrong way. Too many players in black had committed themselves to the ball, creating holes in the penalty area we can ill afford to give up. With players of the quality of Villa’s strike force it would only be a matter of time before they scored.
The 64th minute had seen Gary Gardner replaced by perennial game-spoiler Rudy Gestede. That was a bit of shame really, because Gardner wasn’t having a particularly good game and Gestede always scores against us. I’d relayed this information to my wife and so it came to pass. I must admit, there was a hint of dangerous play about the shot – Gestede getting his foot high enough over the ball to make contact while Eric leaned in with his head to clear it – but with little protest from the Forest players, you can’t really argue with the goal standing.
The more pressing matter was “where would the equaliser come from?“
We’d had to make another change when substitute Lam was injured and had to be replaced by Pereira. You’ve got to give it to Philippe, that’s not exactly a like-for-like replacement. And this had happened before Villa has struck twice in 2 minutes.
As the game continued it didn’t really look like we were going to trouble Villa. That’s not to say we were poor, we just were’t creating anything of value in the final third. Pereira clearly had other ideas as the game counted down to its conclusion. Picking the ball up midway in the Villa half, we momentarily forgot about Oliver Burke and his pacy runs. Hildeberto decided he would summon the spirit of Twisty.
He’d received the ball from Vellios who was looking to support his teammate. After ghosting past one Villa player Periera played a nice 0ne-two with the striker and beat two more players in Claret in the process. On being challenged in the box he then had the wherewithal to square the ball – bisecting two fairly static Villa defenders – to an advancing Lansbury, who cooly hit it first time into the back of the net.
But scenes – as far as the rubbish ref was concerned – were deserving of a booking for Pereira. And here’s where the game is going to hell in a hand basket. Unfortunately, Pereira had been booked previously for getting involved in a bit of handbags after a fruity challenge from a Villa player on one of his teammates. This was on the other side of the pitch and Pereira had came all the way across to “get involved”. Refs are never a fan of this sort of behaviour, so he brandished yet another yellow – he would go on to show a total of 7 yellows to Forest players.
Now, in a normal person’s mind, you’d look at the player who’s been instrumental in creating an equaliser for his team and think, “I could book him for the celebration with the fans, but I’ve already shown him a yellow.“
No. Because he couldn’t have been any quicker in getting his cards out. Knob!
So, down to 10 men and it seemed like we were playing 12. Fortunately for us, I think the shock of us grabbing an equaliser stunted Villa’s endeavours and we were able to see out the remaining few minutes.
It was a hard-fought draw. The disappointment of relinquishing a lead tempered by Viscount Hildeberto of Pereira’s wonderful effort to create a chance to score. We are by no means a finished article. In fact, we are only starting on a road to a better understanding of what M. Montanier wants from his team. To be able to have some stability in the starting 11 would be great, as well as having a solid looking defensive unit who understand each others abilities. This will come with time.
Rotherham on Wednesday and Norwich on Saturday. Then the little matter of Arsenal in the EFL Cup. Some good stuff to look forward to.
COME ON YOU REDS!!!