We witnessed history being made yesterday. In years to come the question will be asked, do you remember when our great club broke their record of consecutive league wins in 2019?
That record had remained unbroken since 1910. That’s beyond living memory, so we had to refer to the record books to read about that winning run and that grand old team. In the years to come, you will be able to say that you were there and that you witnessed this incredible run.
You can tell your children, your grandchildren and anyone else who is prepared to listen, that you remember this splendid team, this great run and had the pleasure of seeing Jack Grealish, John McGinn, Tammy Abraham et all play in the claret and blue. Those players have earned their place in Villa history as did Harry Hampton, Billy Walker, Pongo Waring and Eric Houghton, before them in bygone seasons.
We secured our place in the end of season promotion playoffs yesterday, with two games of the season to spare. Only in our wildest dreams, did any of us see this winning run coming at the beginning of March. As our boss said after yesterday’s game, “If you had asked me 11 games ago would we go and win the next 10, I would have thought you were a little bit crackers.”
Now let’s extend this winning run to 15 games! This superb run merits a joyful ending. For it not now to end with our promotion, would be too cruel on this team who have worked so hard to claim their ticket to the play off lottery. For a second successive season to end in despair would be beyond abhorrent.
We have played better than we did yesterday during this run of wins. Millwall are always a tough nut to crack and were both determined and uncompromising, as they looked for a point to assist their relegation fight. Although not at our scintillating best, we were still clearly the better of the two teams and on another day the score might have better reflected this. As it was, for the second successive home game the visitor’s man of the match was their goalkeeper, but once again he still finished on the losing side.
Villa didn’t need to go into fourth gear to win this one. We eased to victory without adding a second goal, that would have left us sitting more comfortably near the end. Our team have now developed the confidence and composure to see games out without undue cause for concern though. We seemed perhaps, to be conserving something for the decisive games that are to come, as we eased to what was ultimately a comfortable tenth win in front of a packed Villa Park.
My player ratings from a game that sealed a Happy Easter for us and that meant that the play offs are coming are:
Jed Steer – 6 – Produced a very good save on 15 minutes, pushing a Wallace shot from outside of the box, out for a corner to his right. He then had a moment of madness, when he ran out to but didn’t get near a 71st minute floated free kick into the box, taken from just inside our half by Pearce which was thankfully headed wide by Cooper.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 7 – Elmo gets better with each game and looks increasingly composed, confident and reliable.
Mile Jedinak - 7 – Mile did a tremendous job again in the centre of our defence yesterday in the absence of both Axel and Kortney. He was as uncompromising and determined as our opponent’s defenders were and that is saying quite a lot.
Tyrone Mings – 8 – MOTM – So steady and so composed at the heart of our defence. Didn’t put a foot wrong and oozed confidence. He plays a crucial role in making this team tick.
Neil Taylor – 7 – Did well again and has played his part in this fantastic winning run.
Albert Adomah – 6 – Substituted after an hour no doubt with the intention of preserving his energies for those battles that are yet to come.
Glenn Whelan – 7 – Substituted on 60 minutes, most likely for the same reason that Albert was. Got down bravely where the boots were flying on 16 minutes, to head away a corner that had fallen to Pearce who had played it back across the face of the goal. Provides solidity for our midfield.
John McGinn – 8 – Did well to avoid a booking that would have threated an untimely play-off suspension. Whelan played a neat ball to him inside of the box, but his 41st minute shot was blocked at the near post by a defender. Had a hand in many of our chances.
Jack Grealish – 8 – A welcome return for the player whose return to the side as captain following a lengthy injury, sparked the outstanding run that broke a long-standing club record yesterday. Green played the ball back to him and his 68th minute shot from near the penalty spot was only kept out by Martin’s legs. McGinn found him near the centre circle on 72 minutes, Jack ran on to the edge of the box before hitting a shot which deflected off a defender just inches past the keeper’s right-hand post.
Anwar El Ghazi – 7 – Hit the cross that Jonathan put away for the winner. Headed a 9th minute Grealish corner wide at the far post and brought a defender down in getting up for it. McGinn played a nice ball for Anwar to run onto, he looked to curl a shot past Martin and inside of the far post, but Martin got down well to push the ball around the post on 90 minutes.
Jonathan Kodjia – 7 – Came in for the injured 25-goal Tammy and hit our winner in the 30th minute. Pounced on a misjudged loose back pass a minute earlier, but his heavy first touch enabled Martin to just touch the ball first as they met on the edge of the box and the chance was gone. Made a nice run inside the box on 56 minutes running between two defenders before hitting his shot wide of the far post. Jack found El Ghazi on the left side of the box and his nicely hit 30th minute cross, was hit home by Johnny Danger to his obvious delight.
Conor Hourihane – 6 – Replaced Whelan on 60 minutes and did his bit in the middle.
Andre Green – 7 - Came on for Albert on 60 minutes and looked good. Grealish found him on the right of the box on 66 minutes but his shot from a tight angle hit the side netting. Hit a sweet 84th minute volley after an El Ghazi shot had deflected off a defender towards him, only to be denied a goal by a great reflex save by Martin. McGinn swept the ball right for Andre who ran inside of the box and hit a 90th minute shot that deflected over the bar off a defender.
Keinan Davis – 6 - Replaced Johnny Danger on 76 minutes and again did his bit, showing some surprisingly deft touches with the ball at his feet.
Up the Villa!