A bitter blue nose rang Radio WM last night, after they had been denied a late winner and on hearing that we had scored one. He likened it to “Father Christmas, having not delivered your presents at Christmas!” I’m sure that Troy Deeney must have felt much the same at the final whistle, as we taunted him with, “Deeney, Deeney what’s the score?” He may have put them ahead, grinned and goaded us, in his inimitable manner, after scoring his usual goal against us. He wasn’t smirking at the end though!
This was the second successive Villa goal, that had come in the dying seconds of second-half stoppage time at Villa Park. It has lifted us out of the bottom three. This was as encouraging a home win, as was the defeat in our last home game to Manchester City, demoralising
Who would have thought that this game would really end so gloriously? We were after all, well below our best for much of the game. We had plenty of possession, but we didn’t really threaten to do anything with it in the first hour of the game. We lacked creativity in the middle and had no threat up front, in the continued absence of a striker. We were painfully short of both confidence and belief. Players were often afraid to make a mistake, so tended to play the easier ball, that went backwards rather than forward. The crowd sensed this and rather than get on their player’s backs, they encouraged them forward.
The team responded to the urgings of their fans and gave everything that they had to give and then some more. The hard work they put in, was eventually rewarded with the goal that brought us level, with 22 minutes of normal time remaining. A point would be better than nothing, which for a long time had seemed, what we were likely to get. On the contrary, once we got one, we got more or at least we got another crucial, fabulous goal, that secured the three points that we had needed so desperately.
Watford got what they deserved last night, nothing at all! They were so very negative, guilty of blatant time wasting at every opportunity and they made a succession of illegal challenges, to break up our momentum, that were treated far too lightly by the referee. However, it was the visitor’s negativity that eventually did for them. Had they pressed for another on going ahead, instead of being content to try to hold onto what they had, they might have added another that would probably have put the game beyond us. Had the referee also allowed extra minutes, rather than seconds at the end of the game for their time wasting, they might also have had the opportunity to look for a late equaliser. Instead, it is the visitors who trooped off the Villa Park pitch, sitting in the bottom three, rather than us!
This result has given us something to build upon. It has somehow, made the likely points total that we need to ensure our PL survival, look much more attainable. It may have been one win and only three points, but that win may look immense at the end of the season. Another 13-15 points can put our relegation fears to an end and the sooner we can get them the better! That sort of points target would have looked a real mountain to climb, unless we had found those two wonderful goals last night, to prevent us from being second from bottom of the table today.
My player ratings from a game that was never really in doubt…were:
Pepe Reina – 7 – Such a good signing. His experience and reliability can prove invaluable in our relegation battle. Stood no chance with Deeney’s close range header, after he had run in between Guilbert and Konsa. Made a terrific treble save on 55 minutes. He first got an outstretched hand to a shot from Deulofeu at his near post and then saved with his legs after Deeney had pounced on the loose ball, before getting a hand to prevent the ball going into the top corner of the net off Mings, with Deeney close behind the defender.
Frederic Guilbert – 5 – Made some decent tackles and looked convincing when he got forward.
Ezri Konsa - 6 – Didn’t look too comfortable when playing the ball out of defence, in the first half. Allowed the ball to run onto Doucoure near the halfway line, who then found Deulofeu, who in turn ran into the left side of the area before hitting the side netting on 43 minutes. Trezuget pulled the ball back to him on 53 minutes and his shot from outside of the box, flew wide of the left post. Ezri hit a tremendous shot that produced our late winner. It was on target, Foster perhaps would have had a chance to have kept it out, had the ball not took a slight deflection off the prone Mings, but to credit the goal to Tyrone seems harsh on the lad. It seems he will have to be content with claiming a very, very big assist!
Tyrone Mings – 7 – Blocked a 30th minute Pereyra shot from outside of the box, with his head, after the player had picked up a loose ball from Guilbert. Organised things at the back and got something on Konsa’s late shot to see himself credited with the winner, when on his back doing an interpretation of the “dying fly”. Reina’s last-minute free kick had fell to him and he had looked to have been brought down before Konsa hit the loose ball, but I have little confidence that the referee would have blown for a penalty, had we not scored.
Kortney Hause – 6 – His strength is basic old-fashioned defending and he’s rather good at that, our present system places some additional demands upon him, that he will be working on in training.
Matt Targett – 6 – Foster gathered a low 30th minute cross from him, low at his near post. His header from a 58th minute Guilbert cross unfortunately was straight at Foster. Jack found him inside the box and Foster did well to keep out his crisp shot from the left, which fell into the path of Douglas for our first.
Danny Drinkwater - 3 – Showed some signs of improvement last night, although it would have been difficult to have looked any less effective than he had on his last home appearance. Made a couple of decent passes, didn’t hide from the ball, was clearly annoyed with himself, when things didn’t go right for him and there is a quality player there. He’s not surprisingly struggling for pace and to find the fitness needed to get from box to box. The boss has made a big call by deciding that we can afford to start him in games to get him match fit, given our present precarious situation.
Mahmoud Trezeguet – 5 – Worked well and tried to get things moving up front. Hit a 60th minute shot over the bar.
Marvelous Nakamba – MOTM – 7 – Back to his very best last night. Solid in the middle, won us possession and kept it.
Jack Grealish – 7 – A lot of weight has been placed on his shoulders of late, as we have been relying on him both to create chances and to take them. He got a lot of close attention from opponents last night and did not receive too much by way of protection from the referee. He was often faced with two or three men on him, but he continued to push forward and got the reward that his hard endeavour deserved eventually.
Anwar El Ghazi – 4 – Didn’t get near to winning any of his aerial challenges, when the ball was played up to him in the air. He’s not Peter Withe and he’s no target man either, Anwar needed the ball to be played towards him at ground level, if he was to have any realistic hope of winning it, last night. Was more effective later in the game, admittedly having not done a lot positive before then. Tried to bend a shot into the far corner of the net on 31 minutes from the left of the box, but it went harmlessly over. Showed some tenacity to evade a challenge and get the ball to Jack, in the build up to our first.
Douglas Luiz – 7 - Replaced Drinkwater after 56 minutes. Made a difference in the middle and scored our all-important equaliser on 68 minutes when he coolly hit the ball which had cannoned off Foster into the roof of the net. He then proceeded to jump into the Holte End crowd, in much the same way that Andy Gray used to climb the barrier behind the goal, on scoring. It was great to see such a jubilant celebration.
Indiana Vassilev - Came on for Trezeguet after 77 minutes. Not on quite long enough to earn a rating but he showed promise. Headed a nice 86th minute Targett cross, wide at the near post.
Stay up Villa!