That’s the theme of this piece.
Be it the bad luck to lose Benteke to injury pre-game. Villa’s inability to find a foothold in the game the first half. The electric atmosphere. Villa running Albion absolutely ragged for the second 45 minutes. The two sublime moves and goals. And let’s not forget the baffling over-reaction to a pitch invasion from the media.
Oh, and reinforcing bragging rights over minnow neighbours, with a trip to Wembley thrown in for good measure. Brilliant.
Villa have concluded a week of excellent business on the field. Potentially a defining turning point in our clubs recent history, that has for so long been a byword for obscurity and irrelevance. Last night, I saw the evidence that with the right man leading the team, this behemoth of a football club can turn heads again.
Albion came with a different game plan, visibly tighter and they retained possession more-so than during their midweek defeat. They did create chances early on. Brown somehow managed to hoof a shot, seemingly easier to score, well over the bar from all of 6 yards. A major let off.
Brown also conspired to tamely head (or shoulder, I’m undecided) at goal, whilst under pressure from our defenders. Either way, Albion were asking questions.
It took a half time riling from Sherwood to remind our guys that a Wembley tie beckoned. N’Zogbia, easily having his best run of games for Villa terrorised the Albion full backs. For what he may lack in pace these days, his ability to ghost past players through the use of close control is a delight.
Bursting forward N’Zogbia checked, holding the play to allow Delph to drift to the left hand side, before releasing a perfectly weighted ball. Delph unleashed a furious low drive to eruptions from The Holte End. Jubilant, wild scenes, is an understatement.
Villa dominated thereafter and Albion chased the game. Lescott powered a header wide, a big let off, but another woeful miss. West Brom were dire again, if truth be told.
Yacob then saw red for a second bookable offence. This has been widely reported as an incorrect from the referee. It’s my take that the referee, whilst taken in by Bacuna making a meal of it, will have noted the two footed jump at the Dutchman. Little or no contact, yes, intention to harm, certainly. In that light, despite his protested innocence, the perennial fouler Yacob was rightly given his marching orders.
Sinclair then finished the tie in style. Released by Grealish, the increasingly impressive Sinclair turned the defence over, before gloriously curling beyond the hapless Myhill. Game. Over.
The only other point of note was Grealish’s sending off. Having picked up a yellow for pulling back, mere moments after entering the fray, he was judged to have dived whilst on the break. Live, it looked like a dive. Having reviewed it on TV it looks like he jumped out of the way. Either way, it seemed harsh, but nevertheless it’s worth our young prodigy reviewing for professionalism’s sake.
And now for a word on the pitch invasions.
The first invasions came as the goals went in and as the final minutes neared. It didn’t go un-noticed from my section of the Holte how few stewards there were. In fact, as things got tastier closer to the away end, there were all of three stewards pitchside by The Holte. There were none by the Doug Ellis.
This, I feel this opened the door for more fans than wouldn’t ordinarily have thought it possible, to try their luck. However, ultimately it was harmless. Stupid during match time, but harmless, and they were roundly booed by the vast majority of Villa fans.
At full time this resulted in a full scale pitch invasion that has bizarrely drawn comparisons to the 1980’s. Indeed, it has almost been branded as hooliganism. Well, this is just nonsense.
Hooliganism looks like the seats being ripped up by Albion fans and thrown into the home ends. Coins, chairs and spit rained down from the West Brom fans seated above the Lower North stand; again onto Villa fans. Take a look at Twitter at the injuries sustained, but as yet, unreported. This has been touched upon in brief by the media, but the tame, non-story of the pitch invasions has been seized upon as the headline.
The big story is Villa. Our turnaround, our trip to Wembley & the impact that our new manager is having on our club. Nobody can spoil that for us.