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vs. Small Heath - Match Report


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Happiness is a 5-1 home win against small heath.

Sometimes it's best to wait a few hours before writing a match report. This is one of those occasions - as it not only means that I can be jubilant, I can also begin to let the smugness that every Villa fan in the country will be going to work with.

I haven't stopped smiling since I left the ground, and I can't possibly think of a moment when I will stop. And this is coming from somebody who would be quite happy never to have a derby against these lot again.

Having just handed out sound beatings to two of the relegation candidates for this season in our past two games there has been a confident feeling about this game all week - but I doubt even the most confident could have imagined such a strong and assured performance by Aston Villa. I certainly didn't - I expected small heath to come to VP, hold out for a draw and try to frustrate Villa. Turns out I was completely wrong. I was also wrong last week when I thought Derby might shock us. I bloody love being wrong.

small heath are a team in trouble. Last Saturday's games left them dumped into the bottom three, and as such - forget that this is a derby - they've had to come out and attack Villa. They named a very attacking line up as they stated their intent. This rather worked in Villa's favour. In a same way that we tend to take the game to Manchester United and end up shipping a few in for our troubles, Villa were able to exploit the many holes left on the pitch.

Villa's new diamond midfield is perfect for the personnel that we currently have in our first team. Barry is always much, much better when given the freedom to roam forward and create and it seems the same can be said for Nigel Reo-Coker who has used the past three games to show us how good a player he can be.

But for me, the two players at the top and bottom of this new shape are the ones that are keeping this team ticking. We have Petrov who is winning balls, making space and playing the correct pass at the right time and Ashley Young who seems to have picked up a second wind and looks dangerous whenever he picks up the ball.

Gabby is now scoring goals again, and Carew is having those games where he is quite frankly impossible to play against more frequently. And they all tied in perfectly today.

Villa's first goal came from two bits of clever play - firstly a quick free kick which led the ball to be sprayed out to the right hand side, and secondly, with the referee pushing Nafti away from Ashley Young when the temperamental midfielder was trying to get Ashley to start throwing punches. Clattenberg pushed Nafti away from the Villa man and he then lost all concentration as Villa poured forward - it was great advantage play. Olof Mellberg arrived on scene to fizz a cross/shot across the box and Young tucked in a perfect volley from 20 yards. Villa Park goes mental.

And from that moment onwards, Villa were in full control. It never looked like anything but a Villa win. We kept the ball, was intelligent with play and most importantly the players kept their concentration. They were mentally strong.

And it was just before half time when John Carew got the very important second. Again, more intelligent play - a quick free kick cross was so perfect all it needed was a slight touch by Carew and it was game over.

I expect small heath to come out in the second half with a bit more bite, following a McLeish earbashing. Some attempt to create, move forward. And anything they did try was stifled by the on form Villa midfield.

It was 3-0 when Barry out muscled Agent Ridgewell and played in Carew for a tap into an open goal. It was at this point I had to check whether I was dreaming. It seemed that everyone was in that suspended state - and when what had happened was realised, Villa Park once again erupted, sensing that this might not just be a win. It might be a thrashing.

And it was. Ashley Young made it four with what was my personal pick of the goals. In a bodyshape shift, he took two players out of the game and struck a near post shot that was parried straight back for him to clip into the net. This had turned into 'one of those games that you'll never forget'.

At this point, Villa stepped down a gear. It was almost like a favour. We'll stop bothering you now - we'll let you keep a bit of your dignity. Unfortunately, small heath didn't see it like that, and Forsell snuck in and put a neat shot into the back of the net - where having seen a replay Carson might have felt he could have done better with. The Villa Keeper didn't put a foot wrong during the game, so I'm not going to labour too much on that.

So, having done that, they'd angered the Villa monster once more. A long ball up to Gabby Agbonlahor was flicked over one defender and from just outside the box, he struck the ball past Taylor.

That's now 15 goals in three games. Yes, we are playing on the whole, poor teams, but had Manchester United done that they'd have probably been given a medal for it by now!

And that was it. Time to go home very, very happy.

Thought of course, there were two other moments that'll stick with me. First, was Olof Mellberg being subbed for presumably an early 'Thank you' standing ovation - chosen for today as it's the club he's not disguised his hatred for. And his celebrations as he walked off showed that he was the happiest man inside VP.

The second was after the final whistle. John Carew had a smile as wide as Olof's. He didn't want to leave the pitch.

And whilst all this was happening, the Villa fans behaved themselves. I'm sure we all remember the various pathetic pitch invasions over the past few years at St. Andrews by the home fans. This was how to celebrate a win. The fans, the players and the club -all felt united, proud and together. And this has been brought about by the way the club has acted since the takeover.

And we haven't even talked about the mosaics yet - but we'll leave that for another day this week.

Rather sadly, it seems that there was an incident outside the ground an hour after kick off, with the Birmingham Evening Mail reporting that a 20 year old male has been arrested on the suspicion of murder following a collision between a 26 year old Villa fan and a Volkswagen Golf. Police are appealing for witnesses - and if you did see anything then please call their information line on 0845 113 5000.

A tragic end to what was a fantastic start to the day.

No football game is worth that.

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Great report John, it was a superb performance from all involved. The noses must be reeling not only from the result but in how things are generally looking up for their cross-city rivals. Our future is bright, theirs not so much.

But a damn damn shame the way it all ended :(

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Great performance from all the lads, really proud to be a Villa fan at the moment.

Just a quick point though, as nobody's mentioned it. For what has to be one of the worst referee's in the premiership (from a Villa perspective at least), i thought Clattenberg had a really good game. In fact i can only remember two instances i thought he got wrong, the first a corner for the Noses in the opening five mins (which i missed as i was late to the pub), and i thought Nafti should've gone into the book for his challenge on Young when we were counter attacking with good opportunities opening up.

Good report John, sums it all up nicely.

Bring on Everton... i can't wait!

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