Now the dust has settled on another second city derby, we can begin to reflect on what was…well..quite an afternoon.
Whilst the game itself was far from an enthralling encounter, it wasn’t a drab or uninteresting affair. To steal a descriptor taken from the BBC’s match report, the fixture is best described as “tense”.
The first half was a real stand-off.
With Villa set up by Bruce to cautiously enter the fray, it allowed Blues’ summer signing Jota to test our resolve. Many will have recalled with some trepidation the impact the former Brentford midfielder wreaked upon us last term.
Blues’ other hope lay in the interesting young striker Vassell. He though, after testing Johnstone with a header, was laid to rest by Alan Hutton.
All against a back-drop of cardboard “clappers” raining down upon proceedings. Suffice to say that someone from the marketing department received their P45 on Monday morning; least of all for making the improvised missiles claret and blue.
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Whilst the game was disjointed, it was frequently punctuated by talking points.
Glenn Whelan, the latest ‘Marmite’ man at Villa Park showed his best and worst.
A stumble saw Blues almost capitalise.
However, his guile and tenacity couldn’t be overlooked, with blocks, interceptions and break up play unrivalled on the day. The Irishman also took a nasty gash below the eye for the cause.
— Villa Underground (@avfc_vilr) October 29, 2017
And there were scares along the way as well.
Johnstone tried his best to go ‘Full-Enkelmann’, cannoning a clearance off Vassell. It was nothing short of a miracle to witness the rebound go just wide. For once, a calamitous bit of goalkeeping eluded us in the derby and on TV.
Hourihane, otherwise a tireless worker, also tried his best to hit the self destruct button, inexplicably playing Jota in on goal.
The Spaniard delivered the least imaginable end result, firing his effort high into the Tilton with the goal at his mercy.
As the clappers, coins and bottles continued to hurtle onto the pitch, Bruce acted astutely.
Whilst at the time his substitutions raised an eyebrow, their cumulative effect was telling.
Jedinak relieved an ineffective Snodgrass. The immense Aussie changed the dynamic of the game and swung proceedings back into our favour immediately. Davis, on for Hourihane, immediately brought strength, purpose and power to the attack.
Kodjia, in and out of the game was unfortunate to see his smart cut back and effort strike the crossbar. Similarly, Davis almost made himself a local legend with his powerful drive cannoning off the Blues bar.
Whilst we’d have loved the full bragging rights, sometimes it’s not just your day and that’s just football.
What isn’t football is the mindlessness in certain quarters.
Mindlessness like the enforced in-ground incarceration for a full ninety minutes after the fixture of Villa fans:
The embarrassing heckling of the frail and elderly former Chairman Doug Ellis as he left the ground in his car.
Or the inane, irrational and criminal behaviour of those who see fit to pelt Police officers, with the kinds of items that could change or end a life.
IN THE LATEST PODCAST
The Villa Underground & My Old Man Said reflect on the ‘Clapper’ prediction coming to fruition, praise ProjectB6’s efforts and consider the impact that rampant commercialisation (and gambling) has in modern football.
You’ll also hear the latest musings from Negatron and a return to action for Jedinak’s Jungle.
We also cover the key talking point from the Villa / Blues game as well as a preview for the upcoming game at Preston:
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