Villa got a draw at Leeds on Friday night. Dave Woodhall reports.
Friday night saw those who chose to attend pitched into a hellish place; crowded, noisy, alcohol-fuelled and full of people united in their base and crude desires. Or you could have given the German Market a swerve and watched the Villa at Elland Road.
I don’t usually like generalisation in football, but there’s no doubt that there’s still a lot of Leeds supporters who revel in their club’s image as a nasty, intimidating place to visit and one where no matter what their form’s like, any opposing players who don’t fancy the occasion will soon be found out. On the flip side, it’s the sort of venue that certain players are made for. The sort of raw-boned, no-nonsense, been there and done it type who seeks confrontation and return whatever’s thrown at him with interest can revel in a game at Elland Road, particularly under lights on the big occasion. Players like John Terry and Mile Jedinak, for example.
So Villa could have been excused for a bit of trepidation on Friday night. I’ve said it before, but whatever else has changed in football a successful side is still built through its spine and ours has been going down on a weekly basis. There probably wasn’t much surprise, then, that Villa were knocked off their stride from the kick-off and went a goal down within twenty minutes.
But no matter how many injuries Villa might endure this season the team are starting to take setbacks in their stride and eventually clawed their way back into the game, although they didn’t create much in the way of clear chances for the rest of the first half. Steve Bruce, to his credit, got the substitutions right, giving the starting line-up the opportunity in an improved second half to try for an equaliser before bringing on two substitutes with time to change the game.
Being able to bring players of the quality of Jack Grealish and Henri Lansbury is a luxury that few Championship clubs can enjoy. Although neither for different reasons have been as successful as we might have liked this season, to have them in reserve gives us options late on and so it proved with Grealish causing problems to the tiring Leeds defence while Lansbury’s equaliser was no more than he deserved. If Villa had a forward who could have come on to such effect we’d have gone home with a win but if such a player was available then Keinan Davis might be getting the rest he so clearly needs.
A point each, and both teams would probably have settled for that at kick-off, which says a lot for Villa’s improved away form. This time last year even Sunderland would have fancied their chances at home to us.
Next up at Villa Park are Millwall, mid-table and inconsistent. Villa should be able to get another of those uneventful, fairly routine home wins we’re starting to string together. And bring an extra £2 – it’s the time of year when that Definitely Not The Programme publication briefly hits the streets again.